I want a wheel cleaner that will remove my brake dust without me having to scrub it. Can you recommend one for me?
-All of America
Ahh, this question wins the award for “most frequently asked question.” We literally had hundreds of people ask this question. We wish there was such a product, but we’ve yet to find a single product that will completely clean a dirty wheel without scrubbing or causing damage to the wheel.
The problem is that wheel finishes are vast, varied and extremely sensitive. Producing a cleaner that is strong enough to remove sticky, stubborn, embedded brake dust without harming a wheel’s finish isn’t possible as of yet (or at least we aren’t aware of such a product). There are many cleaners that are strong cleaners, but strong cleaners can cause cosmetic damage to sensitive wheels. There are mild wheel cleaners that are relatively mild, but often they aren’t strong enough to remove stubborn debris.
Our rule of thumb is that we always try to use the mildest product available, knowing that a little elbow grease will bring clean wheels with a higher margin of safety. We suggest you pick a quality wheel cleaner that is appropriate for your wheel type (and finish) and use it exactly as instructed by the manufacturer. Make sure you only clean your wheels when they’re cold because heat can cause all sorts of problems. Also, don’t let the cleaner sit on the wheels for any longer than instructed by the cleaner manufacturer.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is there isn’t a product that’s appropriate for all wheel finishes that’s as easy to use as “spray on, hose off,” that yields clean wheels. There’s always going to be a little manual labor required.