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Tire & Wheel Care Whether you have hubcaps, clearcoated factory alloy, or custom wheels worth thousands, you'll want them to look their best. Metal polishing is also discussed here.

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Old 04-04-2008
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Default How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

One of the most common problems consumers face is selecting the appropriate automotive polish for the finish on their wheels. Polishing wheels is easy, and can be done with an applicator or with the use of a PowerBall or PowerBall Mini. Use these simple tips to help choose the correct polish based on the specific type of wheel finish.

Clearcoated or Painted – The most common wheel finish on modern factory wheels is a clear or colored plasticized urethane that, while thick, is relatively soft and it can mar or become dull from abuse, improper washing or neglect. Even when the factory window sticker indicates polished alloy, polished aluminum, cast aluminum, forged alloy – or some combination of those terms – they are always coated for easy maintenance. Many aftermarket alloy wheels are also clearcoated or painted with the same grade of coating. When seen in bright sunlight, a rainbow hue or light scratches may be visible, indicating they should be polished.

The proper product to polish and protect clearcoated or painted finishes is 06208 Plastic Polish or 08808 PowerPlastic. For added protection, follow with a detailer or spray wax such as 08216 or 08224 Showtime, 20224 FX Spray Wax, 05724 California Gold Spray Wax; or use periodically, especially after a wash.

Chrome Clad – A relatively new type of factory wheel technology which offers the bling of chrome but without the toxic waste, chrome clad is a plastic cover with a chrome-look finish that is bonded to an aluminum or steel wheel. Generally a light tap with your finger will indicate a plastic-like dull sound, or you might see a telltale gap between where the cladding meets the edge of the rim. A popular option on many late-model Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and General Motors vehicles, chrome clad should be protected with a very mild wax product and polished only when necessary (refer to “Clearcoated or Painted” for polishing procedures).

The proper product to protect chrome clad is 05701 or 05500 California Gold Pure Carnauba Wax. For added protection, follow with a detailer or spray wax such as our 08216 or 08224 Showtime, 20224 FX Spray Wax, 05724 California Gold Spray Wax; or use periodically, especially after a wash.

Chrome PlatedChrome are easily identifiable by their mirror-like finish and are often a factory or dealer option on aluminum or steel wheels, and they are also popular in the aftermarket. Chrome is easy to care for with the routine application of a quality chrome polish. Today’s platings aren’t quite as durable as those years ago, so use a quality modern formulation to prevent possible damage to the surface.

The proper polish to shine and protect chrome plate is a mild non-abrasive formula, such as 05208 Chrome Polish.

Bare (polished) Aluminum and Billet -- Requiring the most maintenance of any rim finish, the payoff is an unmatched, brilliant shine. Aluminum is a relatively soft alloy that oxidizes from exposure to the environment, dulling the finish over time. Bare polished aluminum wheels are common in the aftermarket, and a proper aluminum polish applied on a regular basis can restore a brilliant shine to un-coated alloys. To insure the finish isn’t coated, simply rub a small amount of an aluminum or billet polish on the surface – it should immediately turn black (if it doesn’t, chances are the wheel is coated, so stop and use appropriate polish for clearcoated or painted wheels). Billet is a dense form of aluminum that is often machined instead of cast, and it generally has a much finer finish to it than a cast aluminum rim so it can be polished to a higher level. When polishing aluminum, work in small sections to maintain a black buttery residue. It is important to keep the polish from drying, but if it does, simply add a little more polish and remove while wet to reveal a brilliant shine.

For polished aluminum rims, the proper product is 05100 (5 oz) or 05101 (10 oz) Mag & Aluminum Polish; or 05148 Power Metal. For billet rims, the proper product is 05106 (4 oz.) Billet Polish. Extended protection of polished aluminum can be achieved with the products recommended for “Chrome Clad” described above.

Tips:
  • For a more uniform finish and to save time when polishing, use a mechanical device like a PowerBall or PowerBall Mini.
  • Remember to use the polish appropriate to the finish or unsatisfactory results or damage may occur.
  • When doing a final wipe after polishing, apply some FX Spray Wax with a soft towel and wipe it on the surface; it's an easy way to add gloss and protection to any polished finish.

Related Items:
  • Wheel Cleaners (appropriate to the rim finish)
  • Brake Dust Brushes
  • Microfiber Applicators
  • Microfiber cloth (for product removal)
  • Tire Dressing
  • Spray Wax

Any questions?
Not sure of the finish? Many aftermarket wheels can be difficult to identify, and often have two or more types of finishes. Check out the on-line resources at www.detailguide.com and www.waxforum.com for answers on these and other subjects.


Any tips to add? Please post them below.


  #2  
Old 04-04-2008
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Added to my bookmarks. Thanks for the guide.
  #3  
Old 04-05-2008
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Quote:
Originally Posted by admin View Post

Bare (polished) Aluminum and Billet -- Requiring the most maintenance of any rim finish, the payoff is an unmatched, brilliant shine. Aluminum is a relatively soft alloy that oxidizes from exposure to the environment, dulling the finish over time.


Any tips to add? Please post them below.


I've had my tough share of woes in caring for bare aluminum. My wheels have a polished lip and water spots form almost after every washed if not dried immediately. Sometimes, when I've dried it and drove out, water starts to creep out of the crevices of the wheel and together with the heat and brake dust, forms a really eye irritating water spot on the finish.

A lot of times, I spend a lot of effort polishing the polished aluminum lip of the mag only to have water spots form on them after the next wash.

I had to find a way to prevent them and I have found a solution.

It's pretty simple. I wax them using a two step system. I first wax them with Mothers Carnauba Cleaner Wax, let it stand for five minutes then buff it off. After all the wheels, I follow up with Mothers Pure Carnauba Wax, let it stand for five minutes the buff it off.

The water beads on the surface and resists water spotting. If water spots do occur, it occurs on top of the wax and not on the aluminum itself making it easy to wipe off with a microfiber towel and a spritz of Showtime.

I maintain it after every wash with Mothers FX Spray Wax.

My maintenance schedule is as follows:

Two step wax with CCW and PCW - monthly
FX spray wax - after every wash
Mothers Mag and Aluminum polish - tri-monthly

Now, maintaining my rims is easier than ever.

Grabby
__________________
Perfection isn't innate, it's hard work.

I wish I could just detail everyday.

  #4  
Old 10-13-2008
jamesc-jamesm jamesc-jamesm is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

I've got original aluminum wheels on my '98 Silverado. Does anyone know if they are coated? And if so, I used the blue Mother's wheel wash and the Mag and Aluminum paste...it did not turn a dark residue....have I messed up? And can it be corrected?
Thanks anyone,
jamesc-jamesm
  #5  
Old 10-13-2008
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesc-jamesm View Post
I've got original aluminum wheels on my '98 Silverado. Does anyone know if they are coated? And if so, I used the blue Mother's wheel wash and the Mag and Aluminum paste...it did not turn a dark residue....have I messed up? And can it be corrected?
Thanks anyone,
jamesc-jamesm
The would be clearcoated.

They probably look like this...

http://www.waxforum.com/showthread.php?t=3213

Avoid extended use of metal polishes if you want to preserve the clearcoat.

The challenge is that after 10 or more years, it's often time to refinish or at least remove the clearcoat as it can become unsightly if it has been neglected.
  #6  
Old 11-25-2008
Ashton Ashton is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Just confirming the above: Can you safely use Mothers PowerBall on clearcoated wheels? Thanks.
Ashton
  #7  
Old 11-25-2008
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Forrest T. Forrest T. is offline
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashton View Post
Just confirming the above: Can you safely use Mothers PowerBall on clearcoated wheels? Thanks.
Ashton
With the appropriate (proper) polish, yes PowerBall can be used on a clearcoated rim.
  #8  
Old 11-26-2008
Ashton Ashton is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Thank you, Forrest.

Ashton
  #9  
Old 01-04-2010
smiko10 smiko10 is offline
 
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Question Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Im a tad confused about the different types :s

I've got "light alloy wheels" on my car and have no idea whether to use the aluminum polish or not..

Someone please help
  #10  
Old 01-04-2010
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Quote:
Originally Posted by smiko10 View Post
Im a tad confused about the different types :s

I've got "light alloy wheels" on my car and have no idea whether to use the aluminum polish or not..

Someone please help
It's the finish that you need to be concerned about. You only use aluminum polish such as our PowerMetal, Mag & Aluminum Polish or our Billet Polish if they're a bare polished or polishable finish.

While "light alloy wheels" can be a clue, we'd need a photo or a brand and model.

If they're aftermarket wheels, they could be virtually any finish, or even a combination of finishes. Usually chromed wheels are all chrome. But sometimes a multipiece wheel may have polished lips and coated or painted centers, all polished, or even all coated or painted. One-piece wheels are usually all one finish, whether it be painted or not, they are usually clearcoated over the whole wheel.

But if they're factory from say BMW or Ford or Holden or Toyota or Mercedes (and so on), they are always going to be chromed, chrome clad or clearcoated/painted.

With more information we can help.
  #11  
Old 01-05-2010
smiko10 smiko10 is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Thanks for your reply

My wheels are factory from BMW...they are stock on the 125i and the link below is a picture of the same set of rims that are on my car.

hope this helps
  #12  
Old 01-05-2010
smiko10 smiko10 is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

http://www.caradvice.com.au/wp-conte...ibleheader.jpg
  #13  
Old 01-05-2010
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Quote:
Originally Posted by smiko10 View Post
Thanks for your reply

My wheels are factory from BMW...they are stock on the 125i and the link below is a picture of the same set of rims that are on my car.

hope this helps
Yes, those are what we'd call a "Clearcoated or Painted Wheel" -- for starters, treat it like paint and otherwise described above.
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  #14  
Old 01-07-2010
smiko10 smiko10 is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

My apologies for being a dumbnut but now that I know that my wheels are clearcoated/painted wheels, would you recommend that i use either the Mag & Aluminum Polish or the Billet Polish or possibly some other product???
  #15  
Old 01-07-2010
smiko10 smiko10 is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

nevermind i just noticed the information above..thanks anyways for your help
  #16  
Old 03-20-2010
bobes75 bobes75 is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

I have a 2006 Ford Escape and I'm pretty sure my factory rims are the clear coated alloys. I've got some corrosion/oxidation around the center cap on the rims and I can't get it off. I just tried the Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish with no luck. Can anyone get me pointed in the right direction in terms of what type of polish I should be using? Pics of the rims below and thanks for any help!
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  #17  
Old 03-20-2010
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

bobes - what you are seeing is the clear coat failing around the centercap opening.

Nothing is going to repair it but refinishing the rim. The clear is gone from that area. On a clear coated rim, we'd suggest you use Plastic Polish or PowerPlastic.
  #18  
Old 03-20-2010
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Refinishing is really the only option to get it like new, as Forrest suggested.

The only way you could remove the corrosion is by sanding it away, removing material, and effectively getting down to bare alloy -- The one challenge here is the face looks like it's machined, and sanding would remove the machined (grooved) finish.

It would be unorthodox, and you'd be on y our own, but you could remove the center cap and sand the material away (along with the clear coat) and re-finish with progressively finer grits of sandpaper, then polish and then re-clear the center -- and keep in mind we can't recommend this but suggest it's an option.

There are wheel repair companies out there that may be equipped to do this on the vehicle -- check with a body shop or paintless dent professional or detailer in your area and perhaps you might have a viable option for not too much money.
  #19  
Old 02-06-2011
gazagareth gazagareth is offline
 
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

What could i use on my already polished GTI replica alloys to make them shine more ?
the mag & aluminium metal polish or the billet metal polish ?

any help appreciated Thanks

  #20  
Old 02-06-2011
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Default Re: How to Choose the Proper Wheel Polish

Have the rims had their coating removed? If so, an aluminum polish would be appropriate.

Billet Metal Polish and Mag & Aluminum Polish are both made for non-coated alloys. Billet is a milder polish, made for mirror-like billet and high quality aluminum surfaces. Yours don't look quite that shiny, so I'd say the regular Mag & Aluminum Polish would be appropriate..
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