Caring for your Alloy wheels…

What is brake dust?

Brake dust is a combination of metal filings, adhesives and carbon fibres. It is often deposited on alloys at high temperatures, which will etch into the lacquer/coating if left untreated for a long period of time. The brake dust is created from the friction between the brake discs and pads. Each time you brake, the pad is worn away, this produces dust that is then deposited on to the wheel surface.


The metal filings in the brake dust often oxidise, if they do this when in contact with metal the process of galvanic corrosion will take place, which will eventually lead to rust.


A typical wheel refurbishment price would be £160.00-£200.00 for a set of 4 alloys, this can all be avoided with the correct products and cleaning methods in place.


Below are a few examples of excessive brake dust.


Wheel cleaning guide
Wheel cleaning guide
Wheel cleaning guide
Wheel cleaning guide
Wheel cleaning guide

  These two images are after the wheels have been cleaned!

Can this be prevented?

Yes! A wheel care routine is needed to maintain the factory finish look on alloy wheels.


The initial process may be time consuming but, well worth it in the long run. Their are two options to keep wheels looking great.


Option  1. Apply a high temp resistant wheel sealant, wash down wheels once a week and then re-apply wheel sealant every 2-3 months.


Option 2. This is what i call the ''slowly but surely corrosion process''. Neglect the wheels, only clean them when they are layered in brake dust and resort to needing acidic cleaners to remove the brake dust. This option could end up with yourself having to pay for a full wheel refurb, this will be due to layer upon layer of hot metal dust eating its way into the alloy surface.

The process....

For weekly washing sealed wheels, a bucket of warm water, shampoo and soft bristled brushes will suffice in cleaning wheels. Take 10-20 minutes each week to wash down your wheels and they will look new for many years.


If this is not the case follow below...


Tools needed:


Pressure sprayer or pump sprayer

Cleaner/Degreaser pre wash

Wheel cleaner

Various cleaning brushes

Bucket with warm soapy water

Wheel cleaning guide
Wheel cleaning guide

If the wheels suffer from heavy brake dust, give a thorough rinse or apply a pre wash product to help loosen excess dirt and grime.

Wheel cleaning guide

In this picture you can see the pre wash being applied via a pressure sprayer pump.

Wheel cleaning guide

The pre wash is left to dwell for a minute before being rinsed.

Wheel cleaning guide

The non acidic wheel cleaner is now applied using a foaming trigger spray. I use a foaming sprayer as it allows the product to cling to the surface for longer than a conventional trigger spray.


The product is worked in using a large sash brush and then left to work for two minutes.

Wheel cleaning guide

In this stage a long handled wheel brush is used to get right inside the rim.


This specific wheel brush being used will not scratch glossy, chrome or polished metal rims.



Wheel cleaning guide

The final result! A clean, glossy, slick finish.

Products used:


Wheel cleaner - Autosmart smart wheels

Pre Wash - Autoglym powermax 3

Tools used:


Wheel cleaning brushes - Wheel woolies & one large sash detailing brush

Pressure sprayer             - Kwazar orion super pro 6 litre sprayer

Advanced wheel cleaning guide coming soon.....