Complete Wheel Care Guide

The Complete Guide to Detailing your Wheels.

3 sections: Cleaning, Dressing, & Protecting.

A clean wheel ensures a complete and happy detail. Read on to see every component of wheel detailing.


Wheel Cleaners

Gel Wheel Cleaners

– more work, very safe, best for maintenance

Rinse & Spray Wheel Cleaners

– wide variety, very effective, best for all situations

Wheel Brushes

You can never have too many wheel brushes. Generally less metal, more bristles and more wood are far better for cleaning. You want brushes that can last, get behind wheel faces, and anywhere else in the wheel area. More wood ensures no rusting from metal.

Eimann Fabrik Lams Wool Wheel Woolies – These are new and pretty darn slick. No splatter and enough room for your to maneuver around the wheel.

E-Z Detail Brush – Or the Daytona Speed Master Wheel Brush (which has softer bristles) – great for wheel wells and behind faces. Does have some splatter issues, great for wheel wells and any small spaces say in the engine area.

Detailers Domain has a great set: Swissvax Wheel Brush, Uber Spoke Brush, Uber Boar’s Hair Wheel Brush. The spoke brush is made of wood & has the right amount of torque for cleaning.

Swissvax Wheel Brush is pretty slick, lasts extremely long and is best for the finer details around say lug nuts.

There are plenty of brushes on the market such as Raceglaze XL @ Autowerkes Exclusive, OXO Wheel Brushes, or cheap Meguiars Detailing Brushes.

Wheel Wells Cleaning – The Extra Clean Step

Use any Good Degreaser or All Purpose Cleaner like Optimum Power Clean or Meguiars Super Degreaser. Agitate with the EZ Brush or any small brush that can conform to the well.

Optimum (OPT) Power Clean

Tire Cleaning – Strip it Clean

Why is it so important to strip your tires? Essentially you want a clean base for treating the rubber. Use a tire brush or even use steam to deep clean.

Popular Choices: Optimum Power Clean, CG Grime Reaper, Meg’s Super Degreaser

Wheel & Tire Cleaners: Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner, Amazing Roll Off

Read the Complete Tire Guide


Tire Dressing – Dress it Right

Water based tire dressings are the best choice for something that is safe and lasts for protecting rubber.

Optimum (OPT) Opti-Bond Tire Gel

Popular Choices: Zaino Z16, Optimum Optibond Tire Gel, Showroom FX

Professional Choices: Meguiars Hyper Dressing

Consumer Choices: 303 Aerospace Protectant, Duragloss #253

Use the right foam applicator or even a paint brush, just make sure an even application goes on.

Foam Applicator

Lake Country Tire Applicator

Other choices include the Top of the Line’s Tire Dress Express/Griots Garage Dressing Applicator, or just run to Lowe’s for some Paint/Foam Brushes

Dressing Wheel Wells

Dress them with any water based dressing. Most undercarriage/wheel well dressings are just meant for you to spend more. You can save by using say your original tire dressing diluted or at full strength.

CG Bare Bones or CG Extreme Shine

Meguiars Hyper Dressing, All Season Dressing, #40

Optimum Optibond Tire Gel

Adam’s Invisible Undercarriage Spray, Griots Undercarriage Spray


Decontaminating the wheel by claying & polishing really deep cleans the metal. You can use Optimum Metal Polish or any good metal polish.

Optimum (OPT) Metal Polish

Seal the wheel from the front and from the back – with a heavy duty sealants like Rejex Sealant, 1000P Finish Kare, or Chemical Guys 109 Jetseal.

Chemical Guys Jetseal 109

Wheel sealants work as well such as Wheel Wax or Poorboy’s Wheel Sealant. These are built to withstand higher wheel temperatures.

Poorboy's World Wheel Sealant

For maintenance & ease of use with no residue I personally prefer Optimum OptiSeal since it is dead simple to use.

Optimum (OPT) Opti-Seal

Armor All Wheel Protectant recently came onto the market. Reviews indicate  it works very well, however longevity really is varied.

Wheel Removal

If you know what you’re doing wheel removal is the best approach. Removal of the wheel allows you to:

  • Completely clean and decontaminate the wheel for any residue or dirt. Use aggressive clay or if you have access to a good Fallout Remover like Aquartz Iron Cut+ to decontaminate the wheels
  • Full access to the wheel well for suspension, caliper, rotors, plastic cleaning with many brushes
  • Seal every portion of the wheel with high powered sealants like CG Jetseal 109, Finish Kare 1000p, or Collinite 476S

Further Reads

Detailed Image’s Wheel & Tire Guide

Last Notes

– For Ceramic Brakes that are extremely sensitivite to chemicals like silicone: P21S Wheel Gel or Sonax Full Effect are safe enough to clean. However since you won’t have much residue regular car soap like Optimum No Rinse & CG Citrus Wash Gloss will do fine.

My setup current setup is:

Brushes: OXO Wheel Brushes, EZ Detail Brush, Swissvax Wheel Brush, Meguiars Brushes (Tire).

Cleaners: Optimum Power Clean, HiTemp Tire Cleaner, P21S Wheel Cleaner Gel, Top of the Line Wheel Clean, Meg’s Wheel Brightener, Poorboy’s Spray & Rinse

Protectants: Optimum OptiBond

My idea setup would be

  • Wheel Brightener for heavy duty work
  • Sonax Wheel Cleaner or Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner for light duty.
  • Optimum Power Clean for Wheel Wells & Tires
  • Showroom FX as a Tire Dressing.

There are many possibilities to wheel care, just choose the right chemical & be thorough. Hope you enjoy the guide.



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