How to treat surface corrosion on aluminum alloy wheels

Written by katrina arthurs
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How to treat surface corrosion on aluminum alloy wheels
Salt, road debris and weather conditions can cause alloy wheels to corrode. (alloy wheel image by Alexander Kataytsev from Fotolia.com)

Alloy wheels, or rims, incorporate an aluminium or magnesium compound offering a lighter weight and better heat conduction than steel. Lighter wheels improve handling and fuel consumption, and better heat conduction reduces the risk of brake failures resulting from overheating. The manufacturing process allows for alloy wheels to have intricate design work that make them more aesthetically pleasing then steel. Though the bare metal finish has a sealant coating to protect the alloy, weather, road conditions and salt all contribute to wheel corrosion. Left untreated, the finish can tarnish and fade, and the wheel itself can become damaged to the point that the tire can lose air pressure.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Water hose
  • Foaming tire cleaner
  • Course-bristle nylon brush
  • Nonabrasive alloy wheel cleaner
  • Firm-bristle toothbrush
  • Aluminium foil
  • Cola
  • Chamois cloth
  • Alloy wheel wax
  • 18-volt cordless drill
  • Buffer drill attachment

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Hose off the tire and wheel to remove any salt, dirt or other surface road debris.

  2. 2

    Coat the tire walls in a specifically designed foaming tire cleaner. Allow the foam to set up to five minutes, depending on the amount of cleaning required.

  3. 3

    Scrub the tire walls with a coarse-bristle nylon brush. Rinse both the tires and wheels.

  4. 4

    Apply a nonabrasive alloy wheel cleaner to the entire wheel, and allow it to set for up to five minutes.

  5. 5

    Scrub the wheel with your course-bristle nylon brush again. Clean around lug nuts and other hard-to-reach areas with a firm-bristle toothbrush.

  6. 6

    Pour a cola soft drink over crinkled aluminium foil, and use it to scrub away any rust spots that remain after cleaning.

  7. 7

    Rinse the tires and wheels again, removing any trace amounts of cleaning solution.

  8. 8

    Dry the wheels completely with a chamois cloth.

  9. 9

    Wait at least 30, minutes then apply an alloy wheel wax. Do not allow the wax to dry completely to the wheel.

  10. 10

    Buff off the wax using either a dry chamois cloth or an 18-volt cordless drill with a buffer attachment.

Tips and warnings

  • To help prevent against corrosion, rinse road salt off tires and wheels as soon as possible.
  • Do not use steel wool or brushes to clean alloy wheels. These materials can scratch and damage the finish, leaving the wheel vulnerable to corrosion.

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