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Home > Auto Detailing Guide > Tire & Wheel Detailing How To

Tire & Wheel Detailing How To
Click to enlargeClean Wheels & Tires

Tires are the most important part of your vehicle. Besides having to support the automobile’s weight, your tires struggle to provide pivotal braking friction to bring you to safe stops. Because of the massive amount of force constantly being placed on your tires, the heat created by braking is tremendous, generating a substance called brake dust. Brake dust is a combination of adhesive carbon fibers and tiny metal shavings, which can splash onto your lower molding, tires or undercarriage. Brake dust is a highly corrosive, unsightly contaminant that can cause pitting of the wheels. The best way to prevent this damaging agent from ruining your wheels is by cleaning frequently using the best products and techniques. In this article we will discuss not only proper wheel cleaning, we will also show you how to transform your tires into glossy, black, rubber jewels.

Suggestions for Success

Try to think of tires as shoes for your vehicle. Both are typically coated with rubber, and both tend to finalize any outfit you are wearing. While you might don a shirt and slacks, your vehicle wears wax and sealant to keep itself protected and looking sharp. All differences in your wardrobe aside, you and your car share something important in common – you depend on supple, reliable rubber to keep your feet on the ground. Walking in dirty, worn, untied shoes isn’t just a bad fashion statement - it’s a danger to you and those around you. Your car can’t afford to take such chances, as properly cared for tires can mean the difference between life and death. The techniques you are about to learn will keep your tires and wheels in good working order.

1. The Penny Test. Always pay attention to the condition of your tires. If you notice a dramatic thinning of the tread, it may be time to replace the tires. To test a tire’s reliability, take a penny and place it in between the barest part of your tires treading. If you can see most of Lincoln’s head, you should invest in a safer, fuller tire.

2. Match Your Shoes. Driving on a set of four, symmetrical tires isn’t just stylish - it’s the safest way to ensure that all of your tires are working against equal pressure. Even if you are aware of this problem, and have a set of the same tires, be sure to check the amount of wear on them. Worn tires should be rotated with the less worn ones to promote the same level of wear on all tires. To take your safety a step further, outfit your tires with Tire Check Valve Caps. These handy devices alert you when your tires have lost a dangerous amount of pressure with an easily readable green or red marker.

3. Make a Statement. Face it: You want your tires to say to onlookers, ‘these wheels will keep on rolling.’ Wheels come in a variety of sizes and designs and can be customized. The first step to making your rims impress onlookers is to use a quality gel cleaner like DP Gel Wheel Cleaner to clean and restore the wheel and tire surface. This product works hard to make your job easy, and is a good choice to clean the wheel before following up with wheel wax.

4. Brush, Brush, Brush! Tires and rims cannot be cleaned with the same brushes, because rubber and chrome or aluminum have very different needs. A stiff brush that may be good on dirtier wheels could scratch delicate rims. Be careful in your brush selection. The Green Short Handled Wheel Brush is a good, gentle brush that will be great for rims that are regularly cleaned. The resilience of rubber makes it tough to clean with soft brushes, so don’t be afraid to scrub hard with a Mothers Contoured Tire Brush to remove contaminants from this area.

5. Listen to your Mother. Roughcast aluminum and chrome wheels are durable, and a sight to behold when properly treated. Light reflecting off of an intricately constructed set of chrome rims can be as dazzling as a 4th of July spectacle. However, coated, painted or anodized wheels cannot be combined with the strong cleaners suitable for chrome and aluminum. Mother’s Wheel Mist All Wheel Cleaner can be used safely on all types of wheels to bring out a genuine glow, but if you want to enliven your chrome, go with Mother’s Chrome/Wire Wheel Cleaner.

6. A Routine Clean. Cleaning your tires should be systematic and efficient. Devise a routine that will allow you to clean one set of tires at a time. Doing this will help you concentrate your cleaning efforts while allowing you to finish the job before your product dries prematurely. Work on one side at a time and you should never have this problem. Also, be sure to wash off your tires completely with a thick stream of water. For optimum cleansing, dry off immediately with a Cobra Microfiber Detailing Cloth. This helps remove any additional contaminants that you might have missed while scrubbing and spraying. The cleaner your tires are, the better prepared they are for a final dressing with Pinnacle Black Onyx Tire Gel.

7. Doing Wheelies. Wheel wax will bring back the original radiance of your wheels, and protect them from troublesome brake dust adhesion. Wheel waxes apply just like car wax – wipe them on with an applicator pad and buff the wheel with a microfiber towel. DP Wheel Glaze or Wheel Wax are excellent protectants to place on your wheels, and should keep them safe and cleaner far longer than without. This is because most of what contributes to soiling your wheels is the brake dust adhesion. Therefore, weekly waxes are all you need to maintain your wheels, so start now and see where the road takes you.

8. Dressing for Success. Nothing more suitably complements shiny metal wheels than the ebony sheen of well-dressed tires. DP Gloss Tire Dressing will keep your tires looking dark and supple. Apply with a Tire & Trim Dressing Applicator for best results. Be sure to use water-based tire dressings, because silicone formulas can deplete the rubber’s natural protectants quickly, even turning them an unsightly brown. Optimum Tire Shine is a safe, water-based choice that will make your tires look like new without the risk of browning or weakening of the rubber.

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Learn to care for your car the right way the Pinnacle way! The Pinnacle Instructional DVD walks you step by step

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Qty Detailer's Pro Series Wheel Cleaner contains no harsh solvents or hard-to-pronounce chemicals. DP Wheel Cleaner can even be used to remove bugs, tar, and sap from your vehicle’s paint.Detailer's Wheel Cleaner - DP-370
Grime gets between spokes and in lug nut holes, your wheel cleaner should be able to as

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Qty Wheel Brushes that get the job done!Wheel Brushes - wheelbrushes
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Qty Mothers Wheel Mist All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, wheel cleaner, clean all wheels, chrome wheel cleaner, aluminum wheel cleaner, Mothers Foaming All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, Mothers Foaming All Wheel and Tire Cleaner, Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire CleanerMothers Foaming All Wheel & Tire Cleaner - MO-5924
Safe on all factory wheel finishes. Just like the clear coat on your paint, clear

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Qty Mothers Wheel Mist Chrome/Wire Pro Strength Cleaner, Mothers Pro-Strength Chrome Wheel Cleaner, Mothers Chrome Wheel Cleaner, Mothers Pro-Strength Wheel Cleaner, Mothers Pro-Strength Chrome Wheel CleanerMothers Pro-Strength Chrome Wheel Cleaner - MO-5824
Cleans and restores chrome and rough cast aluminum to a like-new shine. The kind of

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Qty The formula in Pinnacle Black Onyx Tire Gel is not only safe—it does it job with excellence! Pinnacle Black Onyx Tire Gel contains no alcohols, and no petroleum distillates.Pinnacle Black Onyx Tire Gel - PIN-420
Includes applicator! Dress your tires for success with the best available tire

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Qty Detailer's Pro Series Wheel Glaze is a cleaner and a polymer sealant that removes contamination from the wheel surface and creates a shiny protective coating. As Detailer's Pro Series Wheel Glaze cleans, it deposits a clear, glossy layer of polymers on the wheel surface.Detailer's Wheel Glaze - DP-710

Clean and protect all types of wheels! Brake dust is the single most

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Qty Wheel Wax cleans, polishes and protects in one step!Wheel Wax 8oz. - WW-1201

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Qty Detailer's Pro Series Gloss Tire Gel doesn’t sit on top of the rubber it penetrates deep below. This DP Gel is water-based will not affect the clear coat of painted surfaces.Detailer's Gloss Tire Gel - DP-330
Give tires a natural, new-looking sheen that won't wash off! Detailer's Pro

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Qty Optimum Tire Shine, tire protectant, optimum tire dressingOptimum Tire Shine 17 oz. New & Improved! - OPT-500
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Qty Tire & Trim Dressing Applicator, tire dressing pad, tire protectant applicator, tire swipeTire & Trim Dressing Applicator - SM-505
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