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How to repair corroded aluminum alloy wheels

Updated April 17, 2017

Aluminium alloy wheels are made from a combination of aluminium and other metals. The aluminium makes the wheels lighter, stronger and more durable them most wheels, and thus makes steering the car more precise. They require modest care to keep their prized gleaming finish, but occasionally, even the best-cared-for wheels will need attention to remove the dirt and corrosion from driving on roads covered with asphalt, salt and other materials that cause wear.

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  1. Use the steel brush to remove any dirt and debris loose enough to be brushed off the tires and wheels.

  2. Clean one wheel at a time. Turn on the water and wet down the wheel and the tire. Spray them both with a good amount of the all-purpose cleaner. Use a small brush to get into areas that might have accumulated dirt. Remove as much of the dirt as you can get off at this point.

  3. Clean the areas within the nut casings, using the smallest-size brush. If the brush is not small enough, use an old toothbrush with some of the cleaner sprayed on it.

  4. Rinse each area with the hose as you finish it and see if it needs more scrubbing. If so, continue until the area is clean. It is important to clean the tire as well as the wheel, so that dirt from the tire doesn't get splattered back onto the wheel.

  5. Spray the all-purpose cleaner off as you work and be careful not to leave residue on the wheel or tire. The residue can damage the surface of the wheel.

  6. Look the wheels over carefully and find any corroded areas that have not come off with the regular cleaning procedure. Spray those areas with penetrating oil and allow it to sit for about five minutes,

  7. Rub the fine-grit steel wool over the spots where you sprayed the penetrating oil until the corrosion is gone. Use a gentle back-and-forth motion.

  8. Rinse away the oil and dry the wheels thoroughly with microfiber cloths. The next day, polish the wheels with aluminium wheel polish and buff to a shine with microfiber cloths. Seal with special wheel wax for added protection.

  9. Tip

    Rinse wheels and tires off immediately with soap and water after driving through snow or heavy rain.


    Always make sure your car is parked on level ground and all brakes are engaged while you clean the wheels.

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Things You'll Need

  • Steel brush set
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Spray bottle
  • Hose with a spray nozzle
  • Penetrating oil
  • Fine steel wool
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Aluminium wheel polish
  • Sealing wax

About the Author

Based in Santa Rosa, Calif., Cindy Paterson has been writing articles on travel and lifestyle since 1991. Her work has appeared on ForbesTraveler.com and MSNBC.com. Paterson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University in New York.

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