How to Polish Aluminum Wheels

Published by Jeff Torres

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How to Polish Aluminum Wheels

How to Polish Aluminum Wheels

The benefits of maintaining your aluminum wheels go beyond looks. It can prevent your tires from being damaged. Aluminum can rust and corrode, which can cause tire damage. Buffing and polishing your wheels constantly will help maintain your tires while improving their appearance.

However, if you are unsure of how to polish aluminum wheels, we are available to assist you. We’ve created a set of essential tips for polishing and cleaning your aluminum wheels.

How to Polish Aluminum Wheels

How to Clean Aluminum Wheels

Cleaning your aluminum wheels necessitates only the most basic tools and abilities. However, what will make a difference is how much attention you devote to cleaning the nooks and crannies. Not only should you keep an eye out for dirt or slathered mud on your wheels, but you must also keep an eye out for brake dust.

It would be best to wash your wheels at least twice a month or as frequently as you wash your automobile. Deep cleaning and the coating of protective wax, on the other hand, can be done 4-6 times each year. The following are some simple procedures you may take to clean your aluminum wheels thoroughly.

Rinse wheels with water first

Clear off as much dirt as possible before applying any soaps or cleansers to your rims. This means you have a clean slate to work with, whether cleaning, polishing, or sealing the metal. The most convenient method is to spray your car wheels with a powerful stream of water from a hose.

Ensure that you saturate all portions of the wheels and get deep into the design’s crevices during the rinsing procedure. Clean the brake calipers and spokes until all traces of dirt are removed, and you are left with nothing but the naked aluminum wheels. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the surface clean.

Apply aluminum wheel cleaner

When selecting an aluminum wheel cleaner, look for one that will not harm your clear coating. You’ll also want something non-acidic to avoid spots from growing on your wheel. Most aluminum wheel cleaners are simple to use. Typically, you spray the cleaner on the wheel and let it sit for a few minutes.

Scrub gently and cover all nooks and crannies

To prevent scratching the surface of your wheels, make sure they’re damp before scrubbing. To clean dirt from the tire surface, use a soft-bristled brush or sponge. Make sure to clean all surfaces, including those difficult to reach, even between the spokes and around the lug nuts. Brake dust can accumulate anywhere on the wheel or within the wheel well, causing long-term harm.

How to Polish Aluminum Wheels

After cleaning the wheel surface, it’s time to polish and wax it. Polishing will eliminate oxidation and restore your wheels’ unique sheen, while the wax will preserve the finish and act as a protective coating.

Apply polish

To remove the scratches and problematic areas left by the prior sanding, use a Dual Action Polisher. When refurbishing alloy wheels, using a polisher for aluminum finishes can cut a lot of time and effort out of the operation.

Work section by section

Working in sections, make sure to massage in the polish before it dries before going on to the next. This will help to ensure that the polish is applied evenly. Polish the lug nuts as well.

Getting into hard-to-reach areas

Take off the pad and replace it with a Light-Medium pad. After applying a cutting compound to the wheel, use the polisher to clean and spread the polish throughout the wheel where it is hard to reach.

This compound will eliminate minor defects and prepare the surface for final detailing. Increase the RPMs gradually until the polish dries or fades.

Wipe the wheel clean

Once polish has been put to the wheel, remove any excess polish with a clean, lint-free cloth. When rubbing, make sure to rub in the direction of the metal’s grain, working your way carefully around the wheel.

Wipe the Wheels

Things to Avoid While Polishing Aluminum Wheels

Getting cheap tools and materials

This holds true for practically everything in life – you don’t always want the cheapest option. In reality, you virtually never want the cheapest choice available. This sentiment applies to practically everything, especially things you are proud of. We’ll assume you’re the driver who takes pride in your vehicle if you’re hand-polishing your wheels.

Polishing too quickly

Have you noticed how important time is in all of this? While polishing your rims shouldn’t take all weekend, you don’t want to hurry on anything. Taking the effort to scrub your wheels will mean the difference between rims that shine and rims that look a little nicer than they used to.

Polishing your wheels may be a time-consuming task, but if you take the time to ensure you’re doing it correctly, you’ll love your wheels more than if you just jump right to polishing.

Curb rash

You occasionally find yourself parallel parking.  You may have gotten your back wheel a bit too close to the curb, and you can hear the relentless sound of aluminum hitting the pavement. Don’t be concerned! Even the most experienced people can go through this. 

If you intend to polish your aluminum wheels to resemble a brand new mirror, it’s time to admit your mistakes and deal with the curb rash. Fortunately, with a little sanding, you can easily fix this. You’ll want to take your time clearing out those spots so that you don’t overdo it.

Forgetting the final finish

It is critical to dry your wheels after they have been washed fully. Otherwise, you will get water spots. If hard water deposits form on your wheels, they are very tough to remove. After the wheels have been washed and dried, it is time to apply the final coat. Wax is commonly used to preserve alloy wheels from the weather. 

While the same wax used on the paintwork can be used on the wheels, there are wheel-specific finishes that protect against UV rays and inhibit dirt and brake dust from adhering. Your clean wheels are now ready to collect additional impurities if this step is skipped. Wax coating will provide a barrier on your wheels, making them easier to clean in the future.

Read more: How Often Should You Wax Your Car


Congrats! Your aluminum wheels must be perfectly polished and appear brand new. We hope you now know how to polish aluminum wheels. We’ve also included useful advice on how to clean those aluminum wheels first.

Knowing how to polish and clean aluminum wheels can help them last longer and protect them from brake dust and the elements. The correct tools can make this procedure much easier. So keep an eye on that as well.

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