[Previously: Taking good care of your auto is worth it. Regular washing and detailing not just makes it nicer to spend time in, it can raise the car’s resale value by thousands of dollars down the road. However, doing it right isn’t always so straightforward. Even when you’re just washing it, you can do more harm than good if you use the wrong stuff or don’t know what to look out for.
Kip’s has many years of professional experience detailing automobiles. We pride ourselves in being the most thorough detailer in northeast Kansas, and we stake our reputation on our commitment to thrilling you as a customer. We strongly encourage customers to have their vehicles detailed regularly – professionally.
However, we also understand that our customers also sometimes enjoy being able to care for their own automobiles. As such, we have taken the time to review the best practices involved for detailing your vehicle at home.
Please note that while we’re recommending particular brands and products within this guide, we are certainly not saying that this is the only or best product for the job. These recommendations are only our opinion of a item. There are many different products currently available on the marketplace, and the use of one over another is strictly a personal option.
These goods are not the same products that we use in our detailing shop. The professional products we use at Kip’s are very specifically chosen to coordinate with the methods and services which we provide.
Whether you’re washing, waxing, or sprucing up the interior, this step-by-step guide is for the average do-it-yourselfer who wants their car to look its best, and does not mind investing in the appropriate tools, chemicals and time to get the work done correctly. We will be splitting us this DIY Guide into eight digestible parts – giving each section its own article.]
Last week, we talked about Part I: Exterior Washing. This week, we will focus on Part II: Wheels.
The wheels are typically among the dirtiest parts of your car, constantly collecting road grime and brake dust. In snowy areas, road salt is added to the mix, which can cause corrosion and permanent damage to the wheels. That’s why they often demand special attention. If you wash your car regularly, simply going over the wheels with a cloth and car-wash soap as part of your overall wash might be enough. But if you allow the grunge to build up, a dedicated wheel cleaner and brush will likely be more effective.
Many wheel cleaners are touted as being simple “spray-on, wipe-off” jobs.
The current trend is toward easy-to-use, spray-on products that are claimed to need little or no scrubbing. Simply spray it on, let it sit for a bit, and then hose it off. These are generally effective in removing brake dust and greasy crud, but we found (as have many others) that getting the wheels perfectly clean without some scrubbing is hard. We’ve also found that keeping a separate sponge or old mitt handy to use just on the wheels and tires is best. They’re pretty filthy, and you don’t want to be spreading that grunge to the rest of the vehicle.
The biggest lesson to be learned for wheels is to not let them get so neglected. Even after a half hour of repeated doses of cleaner and going over it with a cloth and scrub brush, there were still areas of stubborn black grunge we couldn’t get clean.
Whichever wheel cleaner you choose, make sure it’s formulated for your type of wheels. Some stronger cleaners are intended for
specific types—such as chrome, mag, or aluminum—and can damage others, especially the clear-coated factory wheels that come on new cars. For those, use one that’s labelled as being safe for all wheels.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- • Wheel cleaner
- • Cloth or wash mitt (ideally, different than your wash stuff)
- • Scrub brush (if you need to do some scrubbing)
- • Toothbrush (if necessary, for scrubbing in tight areas)
Of the many wheel cleaners on the market, a great one to use is Eagle One A2Z All Wheel & Tire Cleaner. It’s Consumer Reports’s favorite out of the five spray-on products tested, although only by a small margin over Meguiar’s Hot Rims Wheel & Tire Cleaner and Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner.
In its testing, CR found that none of the products got the wheels totally clean without at least some scrubbing, which is something the Kip’s also recommends. Going over the wheels with a cloth after spraying on the cleaner made a noticeable difference. The Eagle One cleaner has also garnered better ratings from Amazon users than the two other cleaners, and the last time we checked it was the least expensive, although prices vary.