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Lets talk Wheels

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Old 04 Feb 2004, 11:21 am
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Default Lets talk Wheels

As Wheel technology continues to change, our attitude toward cleaning wheels must also change. Most car manufacturers are using either one of two basis products > Steel or Alloy. Steel wheels are commonly found on base models where cost is an issue. They are frequently disguised by a nice looking wheel cover or hub cap, usually painted of chrome. Alloy is much lighter, composed of a mixture of Aluminum and Magnesium. This gives designers more creative freedom not possible with Steel. Most Alloy Wheels come with a painted finish, powder coat finish, or Chrome finish. If painted, it is usually a mulitstage system with a final clear coat. If properly maintained the finish will last as long as the rest of your paint, if not properly maintained, it can be destroyed in a matter of 8-12 months.
It is important to clean your wheels regularly becuase brake dust contains "unlike metals". When these "ferrous" metals come in contact with one another galvanic corrosion begins, resulting in pitting. Pitting actually punches a hole through your wheels protective coating and becomes damaged beyond repair.
What is the best Wheel cleaner?
You may see on wheel cleaners things like "no acids" "no lyes" "no petroleum distillates" or "PH balanced"
First lets address the issue of PH. A ph of 7 is neutral on the scale (ranges from 0-14) o being acid, and 14 being pure alkaline.
7 is pure water. If a cleaner has PH controls, that simply means it contains buffers that bring the cleaner to "neutral" when mixed with water. This is the safest route to go.
A good Wheel cleaner provides lubrication for safe cleaning. This is important because brake dust which contain fine metals, can cause scratching of the surface if not lubricated. Two products I have found to be excellant wheel cleaners are P21S and Sonax. Most car wash soap is PH balanced as well. Clay bar also works for removing subborn contaminents. Don't foget to Paint seal or wax your wheels after cleaing to protect. [^]
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Old 04 Feb 2004, 12:02 pm
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Location: Jacksonville, NC, USA.
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Thanks Gary, good info.

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Old 05 Feb 2004, 02:10 am
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA.
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Just to add to the above posts, car manufacturers have been moving towards a polycast plastic that is molded over or into a steel wheel. So while the wheel may look like, for all intents and purposes, real chrome or aluminum wheels, they are not. The "stated" advantages of such a wheel is lower cost and better winter performance in harsh or salt conditions. So be careful when choosing cleaning products for those types of wheels. You wouldn't want to use a harsh cleaner or an abrasive polish on chrome plated plastic. I've seen some wheels that are so well done, the aluminum grain feels and looks like the real thing even up close, and you would have to either tap on the rim with your hand to see if it's real metal, or reach behind the spokes to feel where the plastic ends and the steel can be felt, or take the wheel off and look from the inside.
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