Q&A

Mailbag: How to Keep Your New Wheels Looking Great for a Long Time

Q: I recently got a set of new wheels for my car. How should I go about taking care of them?


A: Adding a new set of wheels to your ride isn’t a cheap investment, and you’ll want to protect them for the long haul with proper maintenance and care. You can make wheel care easy on yourself by following certain guidelines.

Proper wheel care starts before you even install them on your vehicle. Before you put the new wheels on your ride, we advise applying a coat of wax to make them easier to clean. Most alloy wheels today feature a painted or clear-coated finish. Treat the finish on your wheels just like the finish on your car and they will thank you.

Make sure to wash your wheels frequently with mild soap and water, use tar and bug remover as needed, and reapply wax periodically. Never use abrasive cleansers, steel wool, or polishing compounds, and never steam-clean your wheels—doing so can damage the finish.

When cleaning your wheels, the first thing you should do is to make sure they are completely cool. Cleaning wheels that are hot can potentially damage the finish and warp your brake rotors.

While washing your car, you should clean your wheels and tires first, as these are always the dirtiest part of the vehicle. This will prevent you from splashing dirt and sludge on the paint you already washed.

Once the wheels are clean, wash off any overspray when you wash the rest of the car. Also, make sure to avoid rubbing a dirty rag or sponge on your paint by changing the soap and water when it gets dirty.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Why would I go through all this when I can just go to an automatic car wash?” Answer: some automatic car wash businesses use acids and stiff brushes. Plus, the metal tracks can damage wheels with low-profile tires. Know your risks to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

It also is important to know that new wheels will compress slightly when you start driving them, causing the lugs to lose some torque. Beyond keeping your new wheels clean, you should re-torque the lugs after the first 50-100 miles using the recommended crisscross sequence.

This is another in a series of weekly Q&A Mailbag sessions with Summit Racing‘s tech department, in which there are hundreds more. Click here to see them all.

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Mailbag: How to Keep Your New Wheels Looking Great for a Long Time

  2. Ceramic coat your wheels. Dirt will come off easily

  3. I disagree with the comment that you shouldn’t polishing compounds on wheels. I have polished aluminum wheels and I use Blue Magic for the wheels and all of the chrome on my classic 72 Mustang. Blue Magic is non-abrasive and makes everything shine.

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