How to Care for Your Wheels and Tires

How to Care for Your Wheels and Tires

Not many people put a lot of stock in the cleanliness of their wheels and tires. Because they are not the focal point of on-lookers, unlike your paint, they tend to only really be considered as an afterthought when it comes to cleaning your vehicle. However, while nearly every surface of your vehicle sees its fair share of damage, not many of them can compare to near constant barrage of damaging contaminants and hazards that your wheels must endure on a daily basis.

If these contaminants and hazards are not properly cleaned off on a regular basis, the damage they cause will become much more noticeable as time goes on. If left unattended, these contaminants can cause your wheels to dull, rust, and become pitted. Often, this damage is irreversible and it may be necessary to replace your wheels entirely to prevent this damage from becoming a permanent distraction from your immaculate paint.

Routinely cleaning and protecting your wheels and tires will ensure that these harmful substances are not given the opportunity to build up and are more easily removed in the future. The process of cleaning and protecting your wheels and tires, however, can be a bit of a quandary. Nobody should be left to suffer the fate of damaged wheels, so we constructed this step-by-step guide to make caring for your wheels as easy as possible!


Cleaning Your Tires and Wheels:

Pre-clean considerations:

While you may be ready and rearing to dive head-first in to the wheel-cleaning process, there are a few things you should take into consideration prior to cleaning your wheels.

1. You do not want to clean your tires or wheels while the surface is hot or in direct sunlight. If the surface is hot, there is an increased risk of the wheel cleaner drying on the surface before you are able to rinse it off. Always ensure that your wheels and tires are cool to the touch and you are in a shaded area before cleaning.

2. We recommend that you also wash the body of your car when you clean your wheels and tires. If you are planning on also cleaning the main body of your vehicle, make sure to do so AFTER you have cleaned your wheels. This will prevent any grime or over-spray from dirtying the panels that you have already washed during your routine maintenance wash.


Items you will need:

Your cleaning technique is an extremely important factor in achieving the optimal level of cleanliness, but an equally important factor is the products you use. Here are some products that we recommend you use to ensure you always get the best results.

1. SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS (SON-230241) – This extremely powerful wheel cleaner is 30% stronger than our original SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect. While it is stronger than the original, it still boasts the same acid-free and pH neutral formula that makes it safe for any and all wheel types! SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS will turn red as it cleans your wheels, making it easy to tell just how much contamination and brake dust it is removing.

2. SONAX Wheel Rim Brush (SON-417541) – Brake dust is not the easiest thing in the world to remove. In fact, it is probably one of the toughest to remove substances that your car comes into contact with. There are many occasions where even the strongest wheel cleaner will not be able to remove the brake dust entirely. For these situations, you need a sturdy brush that can be used to agitate and scrub your wheels to eliminate that stuck on brake dust. The SONAX Wheel Rim Brush is wrapped in a mesh nylon webbing that will be able to provide sufficient agitation while also being gentle enough not to harm your wheels, no matter what type of wheels they are.

3. SONAX Microfiber Drying Towel (SON-450800)– Water spots can occur anywhere on your vehicle, even the wheels. This towel will allow you to effectively dry your wheels once they are washed and rinsed to prevent the occurrence of unsightly water spots.

4. Plenty of water to thoroughly rinse your wheels after they have been sufficiently cleaned.


Cleaning process:

It is important when you are cleaning your wheels and tires, that you complete the entire cleaning process on each wheel before moving onto the next wheel. This is to prevent the cleaning solution from drying on the surface of wheel, causing unsightly residue to be left behind.

Spray SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS onto the entire surface of your wheels. Make sure to use plenty of product when applying SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS to maximize the effectiveness of the product. SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS will go to work immediately and begin breaking up the tough to remove contaminants and break dust. You will notice that the SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS will turn red as it works to remove the built-up break dust and contaminants on your wheels. Let SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS sit on your wheel surface for about 3-4 minutes to allow it plenty of time to work.
If it has been a while since your wheels have been properly cleaned, it may be necessary to agitate the SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS while it is on the surface. This will work to scrub the surface of the wheel free of the more stubborn brake dust and contaminants. This should be done during the 3-4 minutes that SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS is resting on your wheel’s surface.
Once all break dust and contaminants have been sufficiently removed from your wheel’s surface, use a strong jet of fresh water to thoroughly rinse the wheel cleaner and loosened contaminants from your wheels. Make sure to rinse until even the more recessed areas are thoroughly sufficiently rid of any product that may remain. If any wheel cleaner is allowed to sit on the surface of the wheels and dry, it may cause unwanted residue that will have to be removed via another washing of your wheels.

Once you are finished cleaning and rinsing the wheel, repeat this same process for each of your remaining wheels. It is important to work on one wheel at a time to ensure that no wheel cleaner is left to dry on the wheel surface, potentially leaving behind unsightly residue.

If you are going to be washing the rest of your vehicle as well (and it is recommended you do so), Now is when you want to go through your maintenance washing routine. It is important to do this before you dry your wheels as your wheels are likely to get wet again during your maintenance wash, defeating the purpose of drying them in the first place. If you are looking for any advice on how to wash the main body of your vehicle, feel free to check out our car washing guide here.

You will then want to use your SONAX Microfiber Drying Towel to soak up and remove any water that remains on your wheels. If this water is left to dry on its own, there is a risk of water spots occurring on your wheel’s surface.


Protecting Your Tires and Wheels:

Pre-protection considerations:

Your tires and wheels are now plenty clean, but there are few things that may need to be done prior to applying any lasting protection product.

1. You will want to inspect the condition of your wheels and make sure that it is up to par before locking the look in with a protection product. Break dust and other contaminants have a tendency to cause pitting in your wheels surface. Any protection product you put on your wheels will not be able to hide this pitting entirely. If this is the case for your wheels, you may want to consider using an appropriate wheel polish to correct these defects before applying a finishing product.

Items you will need:

We here at SONAX know how troublesome caring for your tires can be, so we have created some easy-to-use products that will allow you to effectively protect your tires and wheels for weeks. This will ensure that your wheels not only continue to look great, but also are much easier to clean in the future.


1. SONAX Tire Gloss Gel Applicator Sponge (SON-417800) – When you are applying a tire gel, it is imperative that it be applied thinly and evenly. The curved shape of this applicator will hug the shape of your tire allowing you to coat the entire with of your tires in one easy pass. This applicator sponge will ensure that your tire gel is applied as effectively and as easily as possible.

2. SONAX Tire Gloss Gel (SON-235200)– This innovative tire gloss contains rubber cleaning and conditioning agents that will drastically improve the look of your tire. The specially engineered silicones contained in this gels formula will produce an intense semi-gloss that is sure to get approving nods from any onlookers. One application of this product will provide your tires with a durable layer of protection against contaminants and the elements for several weeks at a time.

3. SONAX Wheel Rim Shield (SON-436300) – With all the hassle that caring for your wheels can bring, it is a relief that this product makes protecting them such a breeze. With an extremely simple spray on, walk away application, this product is sure to save you quite a bit of time. The aerosol spray ensures that your wheels receive an even and thin coat every time. Cleaning any wheel that is coated with Wheel Rim Shield is worlds easier than ever before. All you will need to clean them in the future is a strong jet of water, or at worst a Wheel Rim Brush and Gloss Shampoo. With a life-time of up to 8 weeks, you will never want to use another wheel coating ever again.

Protection process:

Both the Tire Gloss Gel and the Wheel Rim Shield have extremely easy application process, allowing you to completely protect your wheels and tires in minutes.


Start with protecting your tires first. Apply a thin line of the Tire Gloss Gel to your Applicator Sponge. Apply a thin and even coat of Tire Gloss Gel to the entire width of your tire wall, applying more product to the applicator as needed. Leave the product on your tire after it is applied; there is no buffing or further wiping needed.


Now that your tire is effectively protected, move onto protecting your wheel. All you will need to do is spray the entire wheel surface with a thorough coat of Wheel Rim Shield. Once the product is applied, simply walk away and leave it to cure on the surface. You do not need to buff or wipe your wheels at all.


Repeat this process for each of your remaining wheels.

After cleaning and protecting:

Now that your wheels and tires are properly cleaned and protected, make sure that you continue to upkeep the cleanliness and protection of them in the future. With proper continued maintenance, your wheels and tires will remain beautiful and blemish free for as long as you own your car!