It’s All in the Details

Dear Tracy,
I would like to enhance the look of my car with wheel and tire detailing, but I just can’t afford to have it done by a professional. Is it possible to do it yourself and have it look as good as when professionals do the job? Do I need a special kind of cleaning product or will any good cleanser do the trick?
-Spencer T.

Dear Spencer,
You are right, shiny wheels and clean tires really do enhance the look of any vehicle. Cleaning your tires and wheels is also important for good vehicle maintenance. Brake dust – comprised of metal, adhesive, and carbon residue from your brake pads and rotor – accumulates on your wheels and tires. Under intense heat and friction, this dust is highly corrosive. Regular wheel cleaning is an important step in preserving service life. If you have the time and a place to do it, there is no reason why you can’t do your own wheel and tire detailing. With some patience and a little elbow grease you can have your wheels and tires looking showroom new.

There’s a wide range of cleaning products available, but not all may be safe for cleaning wheels and tires, so don’t just grab a cleanser from under your kitchen sink. Non-petroleum based products are best to clean tires, and for wheels, a cleaner that does not contain abrasive detergents or harsh acids is the safest option. Your best bet is to choose products that are specifically designed for tires and wheels. There are many good ones on the market, and many that are environmentally friendly.

When you are washing your car, start with the wheels and tires. Clean with a sturdy, soft-bristle brush to prevent scratching. Clean and rinse each tire before moving on to the next to avoid the cleaning product drying on the surface. When you are finished washing the entire car, towel dry each wheel. It is a good idea to designate a separate towel just for wheels and tires in case any cleaning product residue is left on the towel. As a final step you can apply a wheel wax and tire dressing. Check with your tire dealer or mechanic to find the best product for your particular tires.