How to Polish Alloy Wheels

Updated April 17, 2017

The wheels are often the filthiest part of your car, so it helps to have a simple and inexpensive way to maintain the shine on alloy wheels at home in between costly detailing trips at the auto shop. Pick up some wet/dry sandpaper from a home improvement store and some wheel polish compounds from an auto supply shop, and you can do a fine polishing job on a sunny afternoon.

Wash the dirt and grime from the wheels with a clean sponge soaked in hot water and car wash soap.

Wet a piece of 1500-grit wet/dry sandpaper and sand the surface of the wheels in a circular motion as if you were sanding wood. Sand any scratches until they are as smooth as the rest of the wheel. Keep the sandpaper wet throughout the process.

Wet a piece of 2000-grit wet/dry sandpaper and sand the wheel in the same manner as in Step 2 to refine the scratched areas.

Apply two large drops of polishing compound to a dampened cotton rag. Rub the wheel in a circular, buffing motion until the compound disappears, starting on a flat part of the wheel. Add more compound to the rag as needed. Wipe down the wheel with a clean rag once you have polished the entire wheel.

Apply a few drops of Mothers Wheel Polish to a clean rag and rub it onto the wheel until the polish disappears, as in Step 4. Apply more Mothers, as needed, as you polish the wheel.

Polish your car's wheels with Mothers once a month to maintain their sheen.


Be sure to keep the wheels and the sandpaper wet throughout the sanding process. This polishing process takes a few hours, so plan accordingly.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponge
  • Car wash soap
  • 1500-grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • 2000-grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • Clean cotton rags
  • Warm water
  • Polishing compound
  • Mothers Wheel Polish
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About the Author

Darren White is a third-year student studying photography and art history at Haverford College. Raised in the Philadelphia area, he has followed its art scene for some time, which has influenced his column, The Fashion File, that he writes for the "Bi-Co News." He also writes, edits and photographs for Haverford's fashion magazine, "Feathers & Fur."