INTRODUCTION TO WHEEL TYPES | PROTECTION
Simply put, your wheels and tires are your first line of defense against the road. Not unlike your paintwork, your wheels and tires require extra love and there are a multitude of ways by which you can arm them with substantial protection. Moreover, there are solutions that can easily facilitate any budget. So, without further ado, let's compartmentalize the types of wheels that you'll find in the marketplace.
This particular variety of wheel is commonplace within the automotive industry for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they're relatively inexpensive because they're mass-produced, and automotive enthusiasts easily have access to hundreds of aftermarket wheels that are of the same make-up. From a manufacturing perspective, alloy wheels are produced by using an amalgam of metals that are resilient whilst thwarting off the effects of premature corrosion than that of other pure metals like magnesium or aluminum. Interestingly, most aluminum alloy wheels are, in fact, painted.
Within the past 20 years, chrome wheels have slowly dominated the automotive wheel industry simply because chrome is now a more appealing option to vehicle owners. More importantly, it should be known that chrome wheels are manufactured using layers of either aluminum or steel. In conjunction with these materials, the natural chromium (shiny reflective portion), is added, thus giving off its universally identifiable reflective surface. However, check with your manufacturer and specs that are provided, because some suppliers will add a protective layer of clearcoat whilst others won't. Much like that of any other mass-produced wheel. any dedicated wheel cleaner can be used for routine maintenance.
A staple of the classic car industry, aluminum wheels require much more attention due to the simplistic nature of the materials used to fabricate. Just as the name suggests, aluminum wheels are made of pure aluminum or can also be mixed with a small percentage of nickel. This particular category doesn't necessarily pair well with a daily commuter vehicle, but aluminum is a viable option for those that like to complement their classic ride or work vehicle. If left untreated, rust can propagate fairly quickly and could eventually lose its original luster. Again, aluminum-specific clearcoats are introduced, but once this grade of UV-protective clearcoat starts to fail, you'll most likely start to see premature yellowing. If you want to maintain the original finish, ensure that the wheel is thoroughly cleaned on a routine basis. If and when the wheel starts to fail, introducing a brass-wired brush and aircraft stripper can eliminate any rust.
Much like that of your paintwork, painted wheels require the most attention because they're sensitive to harsh conditions and are susceptible to marring and fine scratching. If properly addressed, painted wheels can still look new as long as you follow the same regimen as your vehicle's paintwork. The marketplace is now flooded with a long-ranging variety of color combinations, which is why this particular type of wheel continues to become competitively priced. When produced, these wheels are given multiple layers of primer, however the clearcoat is relatively thin against its other counterparts, thus only adding a minimum level of resiliency against the road.
The production of magnesium wheels first began in the 1930's, while the production of which are still made to this day. If your set of magnesium wheels look dull or timeworn, you can always introduce an aluminum polish to restore its shine. However, one should note that the shine may not appear as pronounced as aluminum, which means that it's best to proceed with a delicate hand. Considerable technological advancements have been made in the production of magnesium wheels, with many manufacturers introducing a lacquer-based finish. True magnesium wheels, at least those that are coupled with classic cars and hot rods aren't made to be polished, but a tried-and-true method of keeping them well- maintained would be to use a mild soap and a strong stream of clean water to remove any corrosion or debris.
So when it comes to protecting your wheels, how do I know which product(s) to use? At the bottom of this article, you'll find a few links to products that have yielded successful results for my business and I trust they'll produce the same results for you. Before we list these products, let me take you through a healthy wheel cleaning regimen.
When addressing protection, it's absolutely crucial to identify the initial condition that the wheels are in first. For those of you that are more ambitious, jack your vehicle up and remove your wheels. As a general rule of thumb, it's necessary to use a strong stream of water to remove any surface contaminants (dirt, brake dust, grime, residual tire shine, etc)
In conjunction with a microfiber wash mitt, use a trusted cleaner that won't inflict any damage to your wheel's surface. Ideally, it's best to perform this activity in a shaded area because many cleaners have a tendency to prematurely dry, therefore leaving unwanted stains and other unsightly streaks.
Beginning with the barrel, or the inner portion of the wheel, follow the same procedure as mentioned above and continue to clean every conceivable surface until you reach the outer rim and surrounding spokes. As a secondary step, you should always think about using a fresh piece of clay bar to remove any surface-level contaminants so that your form of protection bonds tightly. By implementing this step, you'll be able to prolong your amount of protection.
As a preventative measure, always make sure to thoroughly dry your wheel from front to back. Believe it or not, water spots and iron deposits can easily form, especially on delicate painted wheels.
Once this step is finished, you have a multitude of options at your disposal. For those of you with clearcoated or painted wheels, you can always opt for a trusted paste wax or traditional paint sealant. Mind you, this would be categorized as a short-term solution since this form of protection will last you for a period of 4-6 months. For those that wish for extended protection, reach for wheel specific coatings from manufacturers such as Gtechniq, Kamikaze, Adam's, Gyeon, CarPro, 22ple, and many other notable players within the industry.
All in all, we tend to forget the importance of maintaining our wheels. If left untouched, metal particulates from your calipers and brakes, dirt, debris, and other foreign matter can inevitably mask the beauty of your wheels. If this is the case, your only option is to use acidic-based wheel cleaners which can be harmful if used on a regular basis. By arming yourself with a little knowledge, you'll be able to rehabilitate your wheels back to their former glory! If you should have any questions or inquiries related to this article, feel free to contact me and I'll be more than happy to help.
Wheel Cleaning Products and Protection
Microfiber Wash Mitt
Optimum Car Wash