Wheel Cleaners: Spray On, Rinse Off
Continuing from our first Wheel Cleaner Guide.
Spray on wheel cleaners can vary widely in strength and chemical solution. The most advantageous point of spray cleaners are they are generally inexpensive and do not sud as much so rinsing is very easy. The disadvantage of sprays cleaners are they can vary widely in pH level and cleaning strength. You must be aware of the metal surface and chemical interaction occurring. Dilute products and remember the recommended chemical dwell time. To properly use such spray wheel cleaners, it is best to wet the surface, dwell, monitor strength, and rinse adequately. There is a huge variety of of wheel cleaners choose from.
Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner. $10 for 500 ml. Medium Strength
Safe for: Alloy, painted, plastic, chrome, polished aluminum, anodized. Acid free formula is a mix of surfactants, solvents, and alkalis. Autoglym makes good products, however distribution has always been an issue. As of 2010 Autoglym can be found on local shelves at Pepboys, AdvancedAutoParts, & WalMart.
Sonax Wheel Cleaner. $20 for 500 ml. Medium Strength
Safe for: All wheel types including aluminum, alloy, clear coats, painted wheels. Acid Free, pH balanced this formula initially sprays as a green foam then changes to red as the brake dust is broken down. Agitation helps the iron breakdown occur faster. Sonax is making a small reemergence to the US market by DetailersDomain as of 2010. Autogeek tried to launch the brand as NTS7 in 2007 but popularity did not soar. Please note they’re multiple names for Sonax Wheel Cleaner, ie Sonax Extreme or Wheel Gel.
Poorboy’s World Spray & Rinse. $16 for 1000ml. Dilutable to 50% or 1:1. Strong Strength
Safe for: Clearcoated, painted, chrome, and plastic hub cabs. Not safe for uncoated wheel or hot wheels without testing and dilution. Professional grade acidic blended high pH formula is meant to be sprayed on and used without any agitation except for rinsing. I’ve used this product to remove burnt on staining with slight agitation, its strong stuff for very neglected wheels. As a precaution use googles, gloves, and protective clothing.
Meguiar’s Wheel Brightener. $19 for 1 Gallon. Dilute to 4:1. Strong Strength
Safe for all non-anodized wheels and factory coated wheels. Spray and leave on for 30-45 seconds, then rinse off. Wheel Brightener is strictly for professionals looking for a fast acting cleaner. A common trick is to spray WB on the backs of rims to remove all burnt in brake dust. It is very common to have color discoloration of wheel emblems if used incorrectly. Product has an approximate pH of 5.5. If you don’t know how dangerous Ammonium Bifluoride is, please don’t use.
Automagic MAGnificient. Strong Strength. A high suds – non acidic solution for use on coated, aluminum, chrome, painted, wire, plastic, white walls, and stainless wheels. This is a professional product that must be ordered from a distributor.
Automotive International ValuGuard. $6 for 650 ml. Medium Strength
Safe for steel, painted, and coated wheels. A great cheap professional no hype wheel product. Not widely distributed, more professional driven.
Eagle One A2z All Wheel & Tire Cleaner (Revised Edition) – $7 for 750ml.
Formula is acid free and super foamy. Safe all metals: metal hubcaps, steel, aluminum, anodized, clear coated, factor painted, and chrome. Do not use on non-factory painted wheels, some anodized wheels, motorcycle wheels. Cleans both wheels and tires. Spray on for 30 seconds, then rinse one wheel at a time. Do not let dry.
All Purpose Cleaners/ Degreasers:
It might seem crude and odd to use an all purpose cleaner. Any good chemical formula will not harm rims and be very cost effective. Please use at your own risk, at the right dilution, temperature, and agitation level. A few specific general cleaners that do very well:
Amazing Roll Off. $10 for 950 ml.
Acid free wheel cleaner so safe it can clean clearcoat, tires, white walls, vinyl tops, convertible tops, fiberglass, mildew, and act as an engine degreaser. Spray on wet surface and rinse away. Follow dilute instructions for boat, car, and RV cleaning. An “Amazing” cleaner that cleans every possible surface.
Optimum Power Clean. $12 for 500 ml.
An all purpose cleaner usable at full strength for bug, tar, wheel wells, and wheel. Use 3:1 for leather, vinyl, plastics, painted surface, and engines compartments. Many detailers use it as a prep foam solution to remove all residues and also for the wheel area when strong strength is not needed.
Car Wash & Soaps:
If you have light dirt, well maintained wheels, or properly sealed wheels car soaps can work quite effectively.
Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss. $9 for 500 ml. Light Strength
Cleans and lubricates high for a car shampoo. At a high dilute strength can clean basic wheels.
Optimum No Rinse. $16 for 1000 ml. Light Strength
Please see the No Rinse Guide to see the versatility of this waterless wash.