How do I clean my wire wheels?
Your basic, stock wheels with hubcaps can be hard enough to clean, however, cleaning wire spoke wheels such as our Trueray 60 spoke, Trueclassic, Trueray or Dayton 144 spoke wire wheels can seem to be a daunting task. Once you roll up your sleeves and get started on the job, it can actually be a pleasure watching your wheels turn into outstanding works of art. To do the job correctly, you may want to budget one to two hours per wheel. The results will be worth it.
Step One – Removing your wheels from your vehicle.
If you wish to do the best possible job, it is a must to remove your wire wheels from your car. To do a respectable job, you need to be able to clean the backside of the wheel. There is no responsible method of performing a full cleaning job, working only from the front side. Once you remove the wheel and tire, you can do an inspection on your suspension, brakes and the wheel house in general, looking for anything different or unusual.
Step Two – Choosing your cleaner and necessary tools
The cleaning product you use will depend upon the condition of your wire wheels. If they are filthy or even showing evidence of rust, stronger cleaners will be necessary. On the other hand, if your wheels require a major detailing only, there are other products that we can suggest.
Your wire wheel cleaning menu:
Eye protection – safety goggles
High pressure water nozzle
Degreaser if necessary
Wizards Mist ‘N Shine for detailing only
Blue Magic or X-treem for polishing.
Wire spoke cleaning brush
These soft tip brushes work well on the nooks and crannies in the wire wheels.
Step 3 Degreasing
It is best to begin your work using a tray or pan to place under the wheel and tire assembly. The Tray or pan should be able to contain the degreaser and other liquids used during the cleaning. Begin by keeping the wheel and tire vertical. Spray your degreaser on both the front and back of the wheel. If you have whitewall tires, be careful not to let the spray hit the whitewalls.
Follow the directions on the label of the degreaser you have selected. Allow the product to soak in at least 5 minutes or as long as the product label recommends. During the degreasing process, wear protective gloves and eye protection. If your degreaser has any noxious fumes, wear an N95 respirator mask.
The top layer of the chrome plating is very thin. Keep in mind that we want to be as gentle as possible, so as not to scratch or harm the chrome. Taking your cleaning brush and a clean rag, begin cleaning each spoke, nipple and dimple. Do not rush this process. Make sure you can access all the nooks and crannies between the spokes. Do this on both the front and back of the wheel.
Once you have finished the degreasing process, making certain you have eye protection in-place, cleanse the wheel with a high-pressure sprayer. Do not just flood the wheel with a hose. The goal is to remove all the dirt and grime, especially where it accumulates near the center hub where the spokes connect. You may have to go through this whole process more than once.
This is the wire brush we use in our workshop.
Step 4 Rust Removal
If your wheels suffer from rust, there are several ways to remove it, unless it is severe rust that looks like barnacles. For light, surface rust, we suggest using the finest wire wool you can obtain, 000 or finer with a metal polish. The three brands we favor are Blue Magic, X-Treem and Autosol. Work the metal polish carefully with your wire wool and the rust should diminish. Again, be careful not to polish so hard that you harm the chrome. If your wheel is cursed with advanced rust, Evapo-Rust is a product that has been used with success. You will have to dismount your tire for this more aggressive form of removing rust.
Step 5 Final Shine
At the Truespoke® workshop, we particularly like Wizards brand, Mist ‘N Shine. Available at almost any auto parts stores. It leaves a good shine and has no abrasive qualities about it that might harm your chrome plating. It has a nice fragrance to it as well. The smell reminds me of a ‘50’s barber shop that I used to go to. We prefer you use micro-fiber type towels. They are gentle on the chrome plating.
Step 6 Additional Protection
We always say that chrome wire wheels are a “jealous mistress”. Wire wheels demand your time. You cannot ignore them and expect them to stay as nice and shiny as the day you first bought them. If you are not willing to dedicate the necessary time they require to them, you can probably expect that they will corrode over time, especially if you live in a humid climate or have your car in frequent service.
Always remember that wire wheels HATE to be left wet or dirty. Moisture will trigger rust, often times, in a very short period of time. In the wire wheel industry, there is no manufacturer that will offer warranty protection against rust. Rust is always a maintenance problem.
Anytime your wheels get wet, especially if you wash your car, use an air hose, shop vac or leaf blower to blow out any retained water. If your wheels are dirty or dusty, please be mindful that dirt and dust have moisture content as well and can lead to rust raising its ugly head.
We suggest spraying a thin coat of WD-40 on your wheels to defend them against the elements. This product will attract dust; however, you can easily wipe your wheels down before hitting the road or entering your next car show.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the above recommendations.
We hope to see you on the road one day!