4 Wheel Care Myths Worth Busting

Green Jaguar XJ6C Wheel

While your wheels aren’t always the first thing you jump to clean, they play a huge part in how good your car looks. Point is, a dirty set of wheels certainly isn’t helping. If you notice that you’re one of the many cars on the road with lusterless wheels, it’s probably time for a detail. But before you bust out the sponge and soap, make sure you’re not playing victim to one of these four wheel cleaning myths…

Myth: A regular car wash will remove caked on brake dust.

False. Brake dust is a killer and can cause pitting, scratches, or etching… and a “normal” car wash wont remove it. What you need to do is a full wheel detail. But while this is a very common myth, it is plausible. To achieve it, you must utilize a wheel sealant. Protecting your wheels regularly will keep substances from etching the surface (or “caking on”), making them much easier to remove. Only then will you be able to clean brake dust off with just a car wash.

Myth: Carnauba wax will protect wheels.

A traditional carnauba paste wax has a melting point below 185 degrees. Your rotors and rims, if you dont know, can hit almost 500 degrees while on the road and braking. If it isn’t obvious, that “protection” you applied isn’t lasting long before it runs off into the street. You need a synthetic wheel sealant that has no melting point and prevents brake dust like no other. So while yes, it is possible to protect your wheels, you can’t do it effectively with a carnauba wax.

Myth: Cleaning the face of the wheel is enough.

Quickly washing the face (outer facing surface) of your wheels is not enough unless you protect your wheels regularly. And even then, a lot of people leave the inside of their rims filthy and never suspect it will cause an issue. A few months later and the insides of their rims are being eaten away by brake dust. You should throw a few wheel details in every now and then, and utilize a long brush (I recommend Wheel Woolies) that allows you to clean the inside of your rims without causing damage. And, as always, don’t forget to protect.

Myth: Tire dressing is great.

No. Keep that goopy, greasy chemical away from your tires and switch to a conditioner that’s actually absorbed by the surface. The main point here is that coating the tire (ie. a dressing) doesn’t actually do anything but coverup an ugly looking surface. Conditioning rejuvenates and nourishes the surface to make it naturally appear richer and darker. You’ll find results with a conditioner last longer and make a much bigger difference than a dressing will (plus tire sling will be less of a concern).

Next time you go to clean your wheels or revive your crusty looking tires, think of this list and practice proper care. Wheel care isn’t complicated, all it takes is a little proactivity. Once you’ve done the heavy cleaning (once or twice a year) it’s easy to maintain with a sealant and ward off pesky brake dust. Take my word for it, staying on top of your wheels is much more cost-effective than letting the filth run rampant.

Got a wheel care question? Comment below… we’ve got answers!

  • escape velocity

    Guilty of not spending more time on wheel washing! I think it’s mainly due to not having the right tools at hand. Using a cone shaped brush with a longer handle will make this task easier with better results.
    I did steal one of my wife’s best laundry brushes to wash the wheel face and get between the spokes. However, the brush head is to fat to wash behind the spokes. Now that I know Wheel Woolies exist, I’ve added them onto my list on items to purchase when I make my way into the city for special trip to Simon’s Shine Shop.
    Sealing between and behind the spokes is another matter that I will need to study further.

    On the list:
    Fresh New Clay Bar: Blue looks nice
    Carnuba Mist
    Wheel Woolies