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The Best Way to Detail Your Wheels and Tires

Want to keep your car looking its best between deep cleans and detailing?

You can start by regularly attending to your wheels and tires. Deep cleaning your tires not only helps with the overall appearance of your vehicle, but it could also alert you to any developing safety issues such as holes or a low/thin tread.44

DYOT: Detail Your Own Tires

We don’t recommend removing the wheels themselves unless you have experience with cars or have enlisted the assistance of a professional, but there a lot of things you can do without taking the wheels off your car.

For example, you can prevent brake dust buildup that can degrade protective finishes on your wheels, rims or tires.
Here are the basic products and tools you will need:

• Wheel and rim cleaner
• Heavy duty degreaser
• Rubber and tire cleaner
• Soft and stiff brushes in a few different shapes/sizes
• Bucket for brushes and cleaner (if you’re not using sprayable cleaners)
• Hose or pressure washer

There are as many different brands and types of wheel, tire, rim and rubber cleaners as there are fish in the sea, but we do recommend that you use professional-grade solutions or sprays with a longer work time, such as a gel-based cleaner.

Choosing a spray or gel-based cleaner with a longer work time allows the solution to adhere to the actual rims or tread instead of simply sliding down the side of the tire as other weaker cleaners might do.

Steps to Cleaning Your Tires

Step 1. Rinse your tires with a hose or pressure washer.

Rinsing your tires first will remove light surface-level dirt or grime. The water will begin loosening hardened grime on the tires and wheels before you do any actual scrubbing.

Step 2. Apply wheel and rim cleaner. Allow cleaner to set for 30 seconds to a minute before scrubbing.

Spray or apply cleaner to all areas of the tire or wheel. Get as far back as you can into the rims and between all the spokes to access any trapped dirt, debris or brake dust – this will help loosen up and remove anything your brush can’t reach.

Don’t begin wiping or scrubbing right away. You don’t have to wait too long but give the cleaner a chance to penetrate the surface of the wheel before you go in with a scrub brush.

Step 3. Start scrubbing with a soft bristled brush. Switch to a narrower brush between spokes and stiff brush for tires.

Using a variety of brushes with different shapes and levels of stiffness will help ensure you reach all areas of the tire without causing scrapes or damage.

Use a softer brush on the rims of your tires to eliminate the possibility of scrapes or scratches – some soft brushes are still relatively stiff so they are able to get into the grooves where the lug nuts rest and clear any residue from that area of the wheel as well.

There are also brands of brushes out there that offer non-abrasive handles, so if your hand slips while cleaning your rims or tire, no damage will occur. Different shaped brushes – ones that have longer bristles with a bit of bend – can reach deeper into your wheel well to scrub away even more dirt and brake dust. Try to find a brush that fits through each spoke of your wheel to fully clean off dirt or dust that gets stuck between your tire spokes.

Step 4. Rinse off cleaner, dirt, and other grime.

Depending on the quality of your chosen wheel cleaning product, you may not need any additional solutions, just a few more washes and scrubs. However, if you still notice a considerable amount of grime or particularly stubborn residue on your tires or rims there are a few other specialized products you can try.

Step 5. Apply heavy duty degreaser or rubber cleaner.

Based on the level of dirt or the newness of your tires, you could use either a degreaser or a rubber cleaner for your next attempt.
Vehicle owners with very dirty tires, such as those who off-road and drive over more treacherous terrain, may want to utilize a heavy degreaser to get any excess dirt or residue out of the grooves and impressions of their tires.

You need to be careful with what type of degreaser or tire products you use. Some of these chemicals can erode the protective layers of your tires. There are some newer wheel and rim cleaning products that are also eco-friendly and do a powerful job of removing hard-to-get brake dust and residue.

Older tires may require specialized rubber and tire cleaner. Older tires can develop a “bloom,” which means the original finish of the tire has started to degrade, giving it a dull, sometimes brownish appearance.

Regardless of the tire product you have chosen, this is the time for a stiffer brush to scrub your tires and loosen the gunk that has been trapped in the tire grooves. Be careful of the angle of your movements when scrubbing and try your best not to make contact with the rims to avoid scratches.

Step 6. Rinse tire again using hose or pressure washer.

Step 7: Spray a non-acidic aluminum polish on to your rims.

If you really want your rims to shine you may want to invest in an aluminum polish. Make sure whatever polish you get is formulated for or is safe to use on the material your rims are made from.

Make sure you use a non-acidic polish and a soft bristle brush to polish the rims without damaging them.

Step 8: Dry your wheel with a non-abrasive rag or towel (microfiber works well).

Perform all eight steps on one tire at a time to prevent water or cleaning fluid spots from developing.

Having your tires rotated every 5,000 – 8,000 miles can also help even out aesthetic wear in addition to maintaining an even tread among all four tires.

Get the Best Wheel and Tire Detailing in Phoenix and Scottsdale from RPM Automotive
We hope you found this information useful. If you have any wheel or tire upkeep questions, our detailing experts are always ready to help.

At RPM Automotive we have a range of services available, including maintenance services, paint correction and other specialty services. It’s our goal to help ensure your vehicle stays in a like-new condition for as long as possible.

Call us at (602) 653-3935 when you need more serious detailing done to your vehicle.