Waging War on Brake DustHow to protect clear coat wheels from harmful brake dust
Nothing looks worse than a clean, shiny vehicle cruising down the street with the front wheels caked with brake dust. The stuff is hard to get off. Commercial car washes don't seem to budge the gummy brake deposits unless you opt for the optional five-dollar wheel service, and they build up again in less than 500 miles. Scrubbing the dust off by hand looses its appeal fairly quickly too, especially if your wheels have a lot of nooks and crannies such as mesh-type cast wheels.
The Bad and Ugly
Brake dust deposits not only look bad, but they're also harmful to the clear coat finish and ultimately the wheel itself. If left on, the corrosive nature of the brake dust will corrode the clear coat over time and actually eat into the aluminum alloy wheel surface leaving large pits for which there is no practical fix.
Wheel care doesn't have to be that difficult. Many car care product manufacturers offer one-step spray-on chemical wheel cleaners that are effective and easy to use. Most car enthusiasts stop there with a quick spritz of wheel cleaner, a hose off and drying. However, there is another step that really makes a difference in how much brake dust accumulates, and how difficult it is to remove. A light coat of liquid wax will remove minor scratches and oxidation and puts another layer of protection between your wheels and the brake dust. Some companies offer a special polish that is specifically formulated for clear coat and painted wheels. And if you're like most of us who are too busy to clean our cars religiously, it will protect your wheels from corrosion for a longer period of time.
This insurance policy for your expensive wheels is easy to put into effect. Just follow these easy steps: Read the label; make certain the wheel cleaner you have selected is safe for clear-coated wheels. Make sure the wheels are cool; wheels absorb heat from the brakes and tires. Let them cool off and do your cleaning in the shade. Follow the directions; each brand of wheel cleaner has a recommended soaking time before rinse (usually 1-2 minutes). Clean one wheel at a time and do not allow the cleaner to dry on the wheel. Finally, rinse with a strong spray of water to remove all cleaner, then towel dry.
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