The Best Way to Wash Car Wheels
Cleaning your car every season is essential to protecting its paint coat and the rust-prone metal underneath. But, you shouldn’t stop at scrubbing the fenders and rocker panel; the wheels require particular attention when cleaning the entire vehicle.
Here’s why you need to wash car wheels and the best way.
Why is it important to wash car wheels?
There’s a lot riding on those tires — literally — because they’re a car’s contact with the road, so they need to perform dependably. Yet, the constant dirt and gravel they kick up when spinning can damage their performance. Gunk and grime collect over time, forming clogs and rust on the components that impede their spinning, braking, and stability. That also means faster deterioration for those wheels.
Plus, dirty tires can spray that grime and debris onto the rest of your car, thereby wasting all the work you did buffing and waxing it.
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How to effectively clean car tires: 4 important tips
Tip 1: Use separate water
It may be tempting to save time by using the same soapy water that you used on the tires to clean the rest of your car, but think twice — get a fresh bucket of water instead. Using separate, clean water for the wheels and for the body will prevent damaging cross-contamination.
Tip 2: Use a tire-cleaning spray
Did you know that the soapy solution you use to scrub the rest of your car isn’t made for tires? You should use a dedicated spray made for cleaning tires. Tire cleaners are specifically designed to eliminate the grime found on tires — normal car soap won’t cut into that gunk like a wheel spray does. Tire sprays also remove brake dust, which can damage the wheels over time.
Spray it on and let it sit for the recommended time. Immediately rinsing it off after spraying it won’t give the solution enough time to break down the grime.
Tip 3: Use a special tire-cleaning brush
A simple hose won’t be enough to scrub the wheels clean, nor will a sponge (and you especially shouldn’t use the same sponge to clean the tires that you do the rest of the car). Instead, use a soft-bristled brush to cut through the buildup your tire has accrued since its last cleaning. This helps you reach the crevices with enough force to scrape off the gunk. Just don’t use a metal bristle brush: It will scratch the glossy metal rims!
You can also buy a brush specifically shaped for reaching the crevice surrounding the lug nuts. It’s very useful and helps prevent the bolts from permanently locking over time.
Tip 4: Use a protectant
Instead of stopping after you clean the wheels, give them protection from getting dirty and damaged again. Use a rubber moisturizer on the tires and a wax on the metal rims. You can apply the wax to an applicator pad and rub onto the surface much like you would to the car’s paint. Wax provides a nice shine and can protect your tires from harmful contaminants and deterioration.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.