Review: 5 Best Alloy Wheel Cleaners
Alloy wheels are perhaps the most difficult part of a car to clean. They’re so close to the ground and pick up dirt, grease and tar as you drive along. And they get constantly pelted with tiny, hot specks of brake dust which embeds itself into the metal finish. These tiny iron fragments can be corrosive if left there, and the tough dirt crust is difficult to remove with car shampoo and a sponge. Especially if the alloy wheels have intricate designs, lots of spokes or nooks and crannies where dirt and brake dust can build up.
The best way to get them sparkling again is to use a proper alloy wheel cleaner. These products work by both removing grime and grease and loosening the brake dust so it can be rinsed off.
Originally, many alloy wheel cleaners were acid-based. This dissolved the brake dust particles well but, also meant that they weren’t suitable for all wheel types. Acid cleaners risk damaging the alloy wheels finish, and the same is true of the caustic or alkaline alloy cleaners. However, newer products are called pH neutral or ‘purple’ cleaners and don’t contain any acid. These products contain an active ingredient that reacts with the iron particles in brake dust, loosening the fragment from the wheel. The formula turns a red or purple colour in the process.
How to use Alloy Wheel Cleaner
First, ensure your wheels are cool to the touch – you shouldn’t apply cleaning product to hot wheels. If your alloys are very dirty, rinse them first with a hose. You should also apply this cleaner outside rather than in a garage – many products have strong-smelling fumes.
Spray the alloy wheel cleaner liberally all over the wheel. Leave as long as the instructions state, which is usually five minutes. The colour will change from clear or white to a red or purple colour as it works. If your wheels are very dirty or have a thick layer of brake dust, use a brush to gently rub the cleaner into the wheel surface.
Now rinse the wheel thoroughly. You can use a hose, or many products recommend using a pressure washer for the best clean. If any stains or marks remain, reapply the cleaner and rub with a brush.
The Best Alloy Wheel Cleaners
Price – £14.95
Auto-Wheel is a pH-neutral solution, free from acids and alkaline compounds, ensuring its safety for use on various wheel types, such as alloy, aluminum, and steel. Although it has a quite potent odor similar to rotten eggs, a common trait among “purple” cleaners, it is masked by a fruity scent that helps alleviate this. For optimal results, apply the alloy cleaner, allow it to sit for five minutes, and then either rinse it off with a high-pressure jet wash or hose. For more stubborn stains, you can use the provided wheel brush to achieve a spotless finish.
Price – £10
This CarPlan product uses alkaline action to restore your wheels’ shine. However, it requires a more hands-on approach as it doesn’t dissolve dirt effortlessly. One notable drawback of this cleaner is that it tends to be quite dry in its application. To address this issue, introducing some water into the mix can work, even though the instructions do not explicitly recommend it. While it may not rank as the top-performing cleaner, it still provides satisfactory results and offers good value for its price.
Price – £13
Acid wheel cleaners are often associated with low-cost, budget brands. However, this acid-based formulation is from one of the foremost names in car care. Clean Wheels proves to be an exceptionally effective cleaner. It’s important to note that the acid mixture does require more careful handling compared to alkaline and pH-neutral cleaners and use is restricted to lacquered alloys, painted wheels and plastic finishes only. Fortunately, Autoglym offers numerous alternative formulations tailored to various surfaces.
Price – £8
Acidic cleaners, such as the Simoniz product, have become relatively uncommon nowadays, primarily due to their reputation as harsh chemical cleaners suitable only for lacquered or painted wheels, unlike more modern alternatives. However, they do offer certain advantages. The immediate cleaning action of these cleaners remains unmatched by newer technologies, making it understandable why individuals accustomed to this instant cleaning capability might choose to continue using them.
Price – £12
While G3 may be one of the pricier wheel cleaners on the market when considering its volume, it’s worth the investment if you’re aiming for the best results. Its pH-neutral formula is safe to use, ensuring that even accidental contact with adjacent paintwork won’t cause any trouble. Like other pH-neutral cleaners, the Farecia product changes colour, turning red when it’s ready for a rinse. The outcomes are equally impressive, with cleaning capabilities that deliver a streak-free and dirt-free finish through a straightforward spray-and-rinse process.
These alloy wheel cleaners should help get your wheels looking shiny and new. But what if cleaning them has exposed damage like scratches and kerb scuffs? A professional alloy wheel repair from ChipsAway can return your alloys to a smooth and perfect finish with our colour-matching technology. Get your free no-obligation estimate here today.