Wheel care advice - polished aluminum
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  1. #1
    Registered Member TxZ71's Avatar
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    Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Hello All!

    I just need a little advice. I searched through a bunch of threads, but thought I would also go ahead and ask. I just want to be sure and do the right thing for my particular wheels. They are the factory OEM wheels. I think they are polished aluminum that are clear-coated. I normally just wash them with gold class car wash and dry once a week. Sometimes I use Quik Wheel Detailer if they get really dirty. They are almost 2 years old and lately I have noticed they are not smooth anymore. This makes me think I might need to wax them, but I'm not sure. Any advice on how else to maintain them properly would be greatly appreciated! And here's a pic. Thanks!

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    Calais Auto Detailing Calais's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    If they get especially dirty/caked it brake dust use Meguiar's Aluminum Wheel Cleaner. If they feel rough you should go ahead and clay them. There is a big debate whether or not wax can survive in the high-temp environment that your wheels foster so its completely up to you if you want to wax, it can't hurt. I usually use A12 Cleaner Wax on my wheels, its a good wax to use up the sample bottles that come in the Smooth Surface Kit.
    James - 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais
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    Registered Member Murr1525's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Yeah, you can treat the wheels like paint if they are clear coated. Use some old clay to clay them, then a paint cleaner or cleaner/wax.

    And yeah, the Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is great too.
    2017 Subaru WRX Premium - WR Blue

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    Sr. Global Product & Training Spec Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    If these are factory OEM wheels then they should have a clear coat on them, even if they are polished aluminum. In that case, Hot Rims All Wheel Cleaner is fine for use on them. Since there are no wheel weights on the outside you should be completely fine, but if you've ever had them on and removed there is a chance that the clear could be compromised at those points. If so, it is possible that some of the All Wheel Cleaner could creep under and stain the underlying aluminum. Inspect the wheels very carefully prior to using this product, but it is designed for use on your wheel type.

    Keep in mind that Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is designed to be safe (and therefore very gentle and mild) on bare (ie, non clear coated), polished aluminum wheels. You almost never see this type of wheel OEM any more because the upkeep is so high, and the potential for damage is very high as well. It's the bare, high polished aluminum wheels that get people in serious trouble. Aluminum can be polished to such a high level that it looks like chrome, but a chrome wheel cleaner is the absolute worst thing you can possibly use on them. Still, all too often people choose that cleaner and then call us to figure out a solution.

    Since your wheels are, in all likelihood, clear coated you can indeed clay them, use a paint cleaner and even wax them. Cleaner wax, D151 and ColorX do an excellent job of cleaning up some of the finer swirls in this clear and bringing back a very nice shine to the finish. Because of the clear coat, however, you will want to avoid using a metal polish like Hot Rims Mag & Aluminum Polish. Remember, you're working on paint, not metal here. The underlying substrate doesn't really matter, it's the surface composition you're dealing with.
    Michael Stoops
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    Registered Member JLMex's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Stoops View Post
    If these are factory OEM wheels then they should have a clear coat on them, even if they are polished aluminum. In that case, Hot Rims All Wheel Cleaner is fine for use on them. Since there are no wheel weights on the outside you should be completely fine, but if you've ever had them on and removed there is a chance that the clear could be compromised at those points. If so, it is possible that some of the All Wheel Cleaner could creep under and stain the underlying aluminum. Inspect the wheels very carefully prior to using this product, but it is designed for use on your wheel type.

    Keep in mind that Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is designed to be safe (and therefore very gentle and mild) on bare (ie, non clear coated), polished aluminum wheels. You almost never see this type of wheel OEM any more because the upkeep is so high, and the potential for damage is very high as well. It's the bare, high polished aluminum wheels that get people in serious trouble. Aluminum can be polished to such a high level that it looks like chrome, but a chrome wheel cleaner is the absolute worst thing you can possibly use on them. Still, all too often people choose that cleaner and then call us to figure out a solution.

    Since your wheels are, in all likelihood, clear coated you can indeed clay them, use a paint cleaner and even wax them. Cleaner wax, D151 and ColorX do an excellent job of cleaning up some of the finer swirls in this clear and bringing back a very nice shine to the finish. Because of the clear coat, however, you will want to avoid using a metal polish like Hot Rims Mag & Aluminum Polish. Remember, you're working on paint, not metal here. The underlying substrate doesn't really matter, it's the surface composition you're dealing with.
    Do you mean that Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner should not be used with clear coated aluminum (factory OEM) wheels? I thought it was clear coat safe as well.

    Thanks!

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    Registered Member Murr1525's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Both can be used on clear coated wheels.

    All Wheel is a bit stronger, and will remove dirt a bit easier, but the Aluminum/Multi-Piece is very good as well.
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    Sr. Global Product & Training Spec Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMex View Post
    Do you mean that Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner should not be used with clear coated aluminum (factory OEM) wheels? I thought it was clear coat safe as well.

    Thanks!
    It is safe, but consider that it is safe for use on a surface as incredibly delicate as bare, high polished aluminum. That should tell you something about how powerful it is.... or actually isn't. You can only make a cleaner so strong while still being incredibly gentle, so Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is safe to use on virtually any wheel type. But All Wheel Cleaner will give you more cleaning strength, safe cleaning strength, on clear coated factory OEM wheels. Just don't use it on bare, polished aluminum!

    Just an FYI, on the far end of the spectrum is chrome wheels. Chrome is extremely hard and durable, so while many people ask for something gentle enough to use on chrome without damaging it, the truth is a dedicated chrome wheel cleaner like our Hot Rims Chrome Wheel Cleaner is very potent stuff. Chrome can easily take repeated cleanings with that product, but it will potentially damage a painted wheel and will, guaranteed, stain an bare, high polished aluminum wheel almost instantly.
    Michael Stoops
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    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

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    Registered Member Murr1525's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Stoops View Post
    That should tell you something about how powerful it is.... or actually isn't.
    If thats weak.....
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    Sr. Global Product & Training Spec Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Murr1525 View Post
    If thats weak.....
    Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is, by a pretty good margin, our most gentle wheel cleaner. If you find it potent enough to get things nice and clean for you, then it sounds like our chemists have done an outstanding job balancing power and safety with this product!!
    Michael Stoops
    Senior Global Product & Training Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.

    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

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    Registered Member TxZ71's Avatar
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    Re: Wheel care advice - polished aluminum

    Thanks very much for all the great advice! Think I will start with some cleaner wax!

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