It is important not to overlook your wheels and tyres when it comes to detailing.
The condition of your wheels and tyres will have a dramatic effect on the overall appearance of your vehicle. Dull rubber, and caked on brake dust is an eye sore. Sparkling wheels and dressed rubber however will compliment the rest of the car.
How Often Should I Wash My Wheels?
Your wheels should be maintained every time you wash the vehicle. This being weekly or fortnightly depending on the driving conditions.
A wheel sealant or wax should be applied as required, depending on the durability of the product being used. The average wax or sealant will yield 2-3 months protection, or coatings such as Opti-Coat will last indefinately.
How To Clean & Maintain Wheels
If you are using a wheel wax or sealant, it is important to remember that this product needs to be treated the same way you would a wax or a sealant on your painted panels. Regular automotive shampoo with a wash mitt or sponge will get the most out of your wheel protection. NEVER use the same sponge or mitt on your paint as you do for your wheels. Brake dust is highly abrasive and will damage the paint. A separate sponge or mitt should be set aside for wheels.
If regular soap doesn't cut it, or you are using a permanent coating such as Opti-Coat then you can try a dedicated Wheel Cleaner.
Acid based wheels cleaners are very effective at removing stubborn brake dust, but SHOULD NOT be used on polished finishes as it will oxidise very easily and damage the wheel. These products should be used on painted and clear coated wheels only, sparingly, and at the correct dilution ratio, or use a non-acid wheel cleaner instead.
Use a wheel spoke style brush to effectively clean the inner barrel and hard to reach places and pay attention to the wheel nuts and clean with a detailing tool such as Lake Country foam detailing sticks.
Protecting your wheels with a wax or sealant will make maintenance significantly easier.
For polished wheels, first use a metal polish and applicator and with little pressure spread the polish. Add pressure as required to work the polish until it turns to a milky haze. Use a microfibre cloth to remove the polish and buff to a high shine. Next, apply your favourite wheel wax or sealant.
For painted and clear coated wheels, treat this surface the same as you would when polishing your paint.
Products such as Prima Wheel Armour are an "All In One" Polish and sealant for your wheels and allow you to polish and seal in the one application.
How Often Should I Clean My Tyres?
Your tyres should be maintained every time you wash the vehicle. This being weekly or fortnightly depending on the driving conditions.
This may involve cleaning and dressing the rubber, or if the previous dressing is still present a simple clean.
How To Clean & Maintain Tyres
Use a sponge and regular shampoo to clean down your tyres. NEVER use the same sponge as you do with your paint.
If the rubber requires a deeper clean, degreaser or an All Purpose Cleaner such as Optimum Power Clean with a brush will be highly effective. This will however shorten the life of your previous rubber dressing. Allow the cleaner to penetrate for a couple of minutes and then scrub to remove heavy contamination.
Allow the rubber to dry, and then spray on or wipe on your favourite dressing. Tyre Dressings vary in gloss levels depending on taste. Generally speaking, tyre gels or silicone based dressing will yield the highest gloss. Water based products such as Optimum Opti-Bond or Tyre Shine have a medium gloss, and rubber and plastic dressings such as prima Nero give a satin type of matte finish.
Whatever product you choose, it is important to not over apply the product. Too much product will cause it to "sling" onto your paint while driving.