Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

Removing Brake Dust from Alloy Wheels


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Malachi71

Malachi71

    Registered User

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 91 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 07:01 AM

I recently rotated my tires and the back of my two front alloy wheels have baked on brake dust on them. I tried Meg's Hot Rims Cool Care wheel cleaner. It removed very little of the brake dust. I tried a second application with a brush. A little more came off but there is still a lot in the crevices. The wheels are clear coated from the factory but I'm not sure if the back is clear coated.

Is there any OTC product that will do a better job of removing this stubborn brake dust without harming the clear coat?

Also, on the rear wheels, I have some light rust around the inner part of the hub of the wheel (probably came off the drum brake cover). What should I use to remove that?

#2 Accumulator

Accumulator

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 35,940 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 07:31 AM

It's hard to say what will/won't work in cases like this, the following is based on what's worked for me (including on some *old* wheels that'd never had their backs cleaned).

Many (most?) wheels are *not* cleared on the backs. The paint is often pretty thin, just misted on. Don't be surprised if you cut through to bare aluminum, I've done it before. You might even end up wanting to just sand/repaint the backs, which isn't nearly as tough as it probably sounds.

Cleaners- You might try E1 All Wheel & Tire (formerly A2Z) or somebody's acidic cleaner. Follow with a strong alkaline cleaner, maybe something like EFHI.

I've had decent results with TOL's Power Wheel Cleaner. Didn't test it, but it seems acidic.

Using aggressive clay (like overspray clay) can help. Use it while the above products are dwelling. The clay won't last long doing this so get plenty.

Acidic products will help get the rust stains off. Or you could get a dedicated rust remover from some place like Eastwood. Or use the "B" part of AutoInt's ABC system.

Cleaning media- Consider mild Scotch-brite pads, the kind made for nonstick cookwear. Or even a Dremel with the softest brushes. The Dremel idea is pretty aggressive though, so be careful.

If you have a steam cleaner it might help a lot, but it didn't work miracles for me.

Plan on spending a lot of time on this, as in hours per wheel. IMO that's another reason to just consider repainting the back sides. To clean with a solvent, sand with, oh, maybe 240 or 320 grit, mask and spraypaint might not take *nearly* as long as cleaning them. And it'd a) make future cleanups easier, B) be better than the factory finish.
The most interesting man in all of Autopia Land. (<--I didn't enter that!)

#3 chml17l

chml17l

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 867 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 07:33 AM

Not many OTC cleaners will be strong enough to handle neglected wheels with imbedded brake dust. You probably need a strong acidic wheel cleaner (Megs Proline or PB's S&R) and may need to use clay and also some type of wheel brush. Be sure to take the proper safety precautions when using any strong wheel cleaners (ie, respiratory/eye/skin protection).

You're probably right that the backs of the wheels are not clear coated. If you get too aggressive, you'll probably start etching the metal, but if the brake dust is already pitting the metal there isn't really much more you can do since the surface is already in bad shape.

Since Accumulator and I posted essentially at the same time I should really just delete me orginal post and say "+1" because he already has all your questions covered in much greater detail... :up

#4 Asonyexec

Asonyexec

    Banned

  • Banned
  • 345 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 08:32 AM

Try meguiar's wheel brightner, it's an acid so proceed with caution but it eats right through brake dust. One very boring weekend i took off my wheels and blasted them with this stuff and the gunk just melted off, didn't even really need to scrub.

OH, it's part of their detailers line so you won't find this stuff in pep boys or auto zone.

good luck
Armand
+++++++++++++
'03 GS
Silver over black

#5 SilverLexus

SilverLexus

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 4,891 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:27 AM

You might try E1 All Wheel & Tire (formerly A2Z)


Works very well for me. Use a wheel brush to agitate. :)

If one does not fail at times, then one has not challenged himself.
~Ferdinand Porsche

#6 Neothin

Neothin

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 1,745 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:46 AM

PB's S+R has worked wonders on old neglected wheels for me. At times it has taken 2-3 applications, but the brake dust was removed.
2009 Montego Blue BMW 335i :woot2:

#7 Malachi71

Malachi71

    Registered User

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 91 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 10:46 AM

It's hard to say what will/won't work in cases like this, the following is based on what's worked for me (including on some *old* wheels that'd never had their backs cleaned).

Many (most?) wheels are *not* cleared on the backs. The paint is often pretty thin, just misted on. Don't be surprised if you cut through to bare aluminum, I've done it before. You might even end up wanting to just sand/repaint the backs, which isn't nearly as tough as it probably sounds.

Cleaners- You might try E1 All Wheel & Tire (formerly A2Z) or somebody's acidic cleaner. Follow with a strong alkaline cleaner, maybe something like EFHI.

I've had decent results with TOL's Power Wheel Cleaner. Didn't test it, but it seems acidic.

Using aggressive clay (like overspray clay) can help. Use it while the above products are dwelling. The clay won't last long doing this so get plenty.

Acidic products will help get the rust stains off. Or you could get a dedicated rust remover from some place like Eastwood. Or use the "B" part of AutoInt's ABC system.

Cleaning media- Consider mild Scotch-brite pads, the kind made for nonstick cookwear. Or even a Dremel with the softest brushes. The Dremel idea is pretty aggressive though, so be careful.

If you have a steam cleaner it might help a lot, but it didn't work miracles for me.

Plan on spending a lot of time on this, as in hours per wheel. IMO that's another reason to just consider repainting the back sides. To clean with a solvent, sand with, oh, maybe 240 or 320 grit, mask and spraypaint might not take *nearly* as long as cleaning them. And it'd a) make future cleanups easier, B) be better than the factory finish.

If I was to sand and clear coat the backs of my alloy wheels, what clear coat paint would you recommend? Does the factory use a typical clear coat paint or do they use a plastic resin type clear coat?

#8 White95Max

White95Max

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 6,909 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 10:55 AM

This is why it's constantly recommended that you clean and seal your wheels ASAP. Especially for people with new vehicles or new wheels. This is exactly the situation that arises with neglected wheels. It's best to avoid the need for strong chemicals if possible.

I've removed pretty nasty brake dust with P21s cleaner and a firm sponge. Often though, you'll never get every bit of the brake dust off unless the wheels are sealed.
Paul...
'99 Mazda Protege LX 5spd, highlight silver - AIO/UPPx2/#16
'03 Mazda Protege5 5spd, sunlight silver - AIO/UPP/Nattys

#9 White95Max

White95Max

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 6,909 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 11:07 AM

Here's what I mean. The first time I took the Maxima's wheels off, they were full of caked-on brake dust. I scrubbed them with a sponge and P21s Wheel Cleaner, and eventually grabbed steel wool (I would never do that now...this was a long time ago). It started like this:

Posted Image

And ended up like this:

Posted Image

That was the point where I gave up. Any improvement would have taken way too much effort for what I'd get in return. From the front it looked great, so I didn't see a need to keep scrubbing with steel wool.

Posted Image

But if the wheels had been sealed before, the dust would have come off very easily from every little area. If was not practical in this case to attempt to get a perfectly clean wheel, because it would take forever, and way too much effort.
You may have to just settle for what you've got, and next time you'll know to seal your wheels ASAP.
Paul...
'99 Mazda Protege LX 5spd, highlight silver - AIO/UPPx2/#16
'03 Mazda Protege5 5spd, sunlight silver - AIO/UPP/Nattys

#10 Accumulator

Accumulator

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 35,940 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 12:06 PM

If I was to sand and clear coat the backs of my alloy wheels, what clear coat paint would you recommend? Does the factory use a typical clear coat paint or do they use a plastic resin type clear coat?


I dunno what type of clear they use, sorry.

I'd paint them with the Wurth brand paint that's made for wheels. I'd first use the silver and then put their clear on top of that.
The most interesting man in all of Autopia Land. (<--I didn't enter that!)

#11 Setec Astronomy

Setec Astronomy

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 10,397 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:13 PM

Duplicolor makes a "High Performance Wheel Coating", which is an enamel wheel paint, which would theoretically be more durable than a laquer finish. It comes in silver, black and clear (maybe gray too) and can be had at Pep Boys.
New & Improved! "Truly filled with inconceivable hatred" --South Florida Review
What little I know about detailing I learned from David Fermani.

#12 DSimmon

DSimmon

    Registered User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 24 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:38 PM

With all the acids and tonics and sprays that people are recommending for cleaning the wheels, should one take a precaution to protect their tires?

I can just image spraying some acid on the wheel to clean the rim, getting a bit of overspray, and it causing damage to the tire. Maybe not so much as to leak air or anything, but I'd rather not have my side walls right by the bead have a shorter life than necessary.

Would the harsh stuff be recommended with the tires off, where the everyday OTC products are ok with the wheels. Should they be taped off, plasticed over, or pretreated with a tire product like Eagle One Tire Shine (or something similar), so that it wouldn't cause as much damage.

Don't know if this a valid complaint or not, but wanted to ask so I know for the future.

O, and what kind of sealant products are recommended?
2004 Glacier Silver Mazda 6.............Zoom Zoom

#13 White95Max

White95Max

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 6,909 posts

Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:52 PM

Would the harsh stuff be recommended with the tires off, where the everyday OTC products are ok with the wheels.

O, and what kind of sealant products are recommended?



Just because it's OTC doesn't mean it's not a harsh cleaner. The expensive online-ordered P21s cleaners that I use are much safer/gentler than just grabbing any old OTC cleaner.

I use AIO and WG sealant on my summer wheels, and it works terrific. A lot of members here prefer AIO and SG, but I've yet to try SG on mine.
Paul...
'99 Mazda Protege LX 5spd, highlight silver - AIO/UPPx2/#16
'03 Mazda Protege5 5spd, sunlight silver - AIO/UPP/Nattys

#14 Malachi71

Malachi71

    Registered User

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 91 posts

Posted 14 March 2006 - 03:42 AM

Has anyone tried Simple Green to remove the baked on brake dust (again I'm talking about the back of the rims, the fronts are clean)?

Maybe instead of full strength, mix it with some water?

Will it etch the clear coat and ruin the alloy wheels or is it safe for the finish?

#15 Setec Astronomy

Setec Astronomy

    Registered User

  • Members
  • 10,397 posts

Posted 14 March 2006 - 03:53 AM

There have been varied reports on Simple Green. Some say it is fine, some say it has stained. Even tho you are talking about the backs of the wheels, some will inevitably drip around to the front, so I wouldn't risk it. Maybe if you have some pictures it will help us to see what you have.
New & Improved! "Truly filled with inconceivable hatred" --South Florida Review
What little I know about detailing I learned from David Fermani.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users