Cleaning Aluminum Alloy vs. Steel Wheels

In terms of maintenance, steel wheels are more easily repaired than aluminum wheels, as steel can often be hammered back into place when bent. On the other hand, alloy wheels tend to break or crack more easily under impact than their steel counterparts. And, they are more expensive to repair or replace. However, although people view them as more fragile, alloys actually tend to have greater strength compared to weight, than steel wheels.

So, how should you care for each type of wheel?

How to Care for Aluminum Alloy Wheels

Aluminum wheel rims can be a challenge to keep clean and shiny. It’s recommended you use water and mild soap, soft sponges, and soft thistle brushes or other products to avoid scratching these specific types of rims. You may also want to use a specialized alloy wheel cleaning products.

Here are the basic guidelines when cleaning your aluminum car wheels:

  • 1. Rinse wheels with a strong stream of water to remove loose dirt and brake dust.
  • 2. Spray one wheel at a time with a non-acidic alloy wheel cleaner.
  • 3. Use a soft bristled wheel brush to loosen grime and brake dust without scratching the wheel finish. Reach through spokes to clean each wheel front to back.
  • 4. Use a lug nut brush to clean around the lug nuts and inside the lug nut holes. Remember to keep the wheel wet to prevent scratching.
  • 5. Rinse the wheel, including the lug nut holes and between the spokes.
  • 6. Always dry the wheels.
  • 7. Finally, polish the wheel rims. For a longer-lasting polish and a better look wait till the first coat of polish dries then apply a second coat.
  • How to Care for Steel Wheels

    Steel wheels should be routinely washed with soapy water and a soft brush. The main concern with cleaning steel wheels usually involves removing any surface rust off the edges of the rim and other parts of the wheel. Here we share the basics of the process:

  • 1. Spray the wheels off with a pressure washer or hose.
  • 2. Sand wheels to removes the surface rust. You can get a finer or coarser sandpaper as you see needed. Really rusty wheels may require a wire brush.
  • 3. Remove all remaining debris with an air compressor and then clean the wheel again.
  • 4. Apply a primer to the wheel to prep the surface for painting your steel wheels.
  • 5. After the primer is dried, apply a spray paint to the desired color (usually black).
  • *All cleaning methods are at your own risk. Get All Parts assumes no liability for any cleaning method described here. Always consult the product(s) manufacturer for specific cleaning instructions.