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  1. #1

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    Apr 2020
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    How to Choose the Proper Automotive Wheel Polish

    How to Choose the Proper Automotive Wheel Polish

    One of the most common problems consumers face is selecting the appropriate polish for the finish on their car’s wheels. Polishing wheels is easy, and can be done with an applicator, or you can save time and effort by using a quality foam power tool, like Mothers PowerBall II, PowerBall Mini or PoweCone 360. Use these simple tips to help choose the correct polish based on the specific type of wheel finish.

    Clearcoated Painted & PVDThe most common wheel finish on modern factory wheels is a clear or colored plasticized urethane that, while thick, is relatively soft and it can mar or become dull from abuse, improper washing or neglect. Even when the factory window sticker indicates polished alloy, polished aluminum, cast aluminum, forged alloy – or some combination of those terms – they are always coated for easy maintenance. Many aftermarket alloy wheels are also clearcoated or painted with the same grade of coating. When seen in bright sunlight, a rainbow hue or light scratches may be visible, indicating they should be polished. PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) is is a powder coat finish that looks similar to chrome. It is typically a thermoplastic or a thermoset polymer that applied electrostatically and then cured under heat.

    The proper products to polish and protect clearcoated, painted and PVD wheels:

    · Mothers Plastic Polish
    · Mothers PowerPlastic

    For added protection, follow with a Mothers ceramic or spray wax product like:

    · CMX Ceramic Spray Coating
    · California Gold Spray Wax
    · Speed Spray Wax

    Chrome CladA relatively new type of factory wheel technology which offers the bling of chrome but without the toxic waste, chrome clad is a plastic cover with a chrome-look finish that is bonded to an aluminum or steel wheel. Generally a light tap with your finger will indicate a plastic-like dull sound, or you might see a telltale gap between where the cladding meets the edge of the rim. A popular option on many late-model Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and General Motors vehicles, chrome clad should be protected with a ceramic coaitng or mild wax product. It should only be polished only when necessary (refer to “Clearcoated or Painted” for polishing procedures).

    The proper product to protect chrome clad are:

    · CMX Ceramic Spray Coating
    · California Gold Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax
    · California Gold Spray Wax
    · Speed Spray Wax

    Chrome PlatedChrome are easily identifiable by their mirror-like finish and are often a factory or dealer option on aluminum or steel wheels, and they are also popular in the aftermarket. Chrome is easy to care for with the routine application of a quality chrome polish. Modern chrome plating isn’t quite as durable as those years ago, so make sure to use a quality modern formulation to prevent possible damage to the surface, like:

    · California Gold Chrome Polish
    · California Gold All-Chrome

    Bare (polished) Aluminum and BilletRequiring the most maintenance of any rim finish, the payoff is an unmatched, brilliant shine. Aluminum is a relatively soft alloy that oxidizes from exposure to the environment, dulling the finish over time. Bare polished aluminum wheels are common in the aftermarket, and a proper aluminum polish applied on a regular basis can restore a brilliant shine to un-coated alloys. To insure the finish isn’t coated, simply rub a small amount of an aluminum or billet polish on the surface – it should immediately turn black (if it doesn’t, chances are the wheel is coated, so stop and use appropriate polish for clearcoated or painted wheels). Billet is a dense form of aluminum that is often machined instead of cast, and it generally has a much finer finish to it than a cast aluminum rim so it can be polished to a higher level. When polishing aluminum, work in small sections to maintain a black buttery residue. It is important to keep the polish from drying, but if it does, simply add a little more polish and remove while wet to reveal a brilliant shine. For polished aluminum rims, the proper product is:

    · Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish
    · California Gold Metal Polish
    Jim Dvorak
    Public Relations, Customer Service & Technical Support
    Mothers® Polishes•Waxes•Cleaners
    Tel: 714-891-3364 x241
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  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Boston area
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    Re: How to Choose the Proper Automotive Wheel Polish

    This was very helpful. I have a 2014 e-class and now a 2021 Toyota Sienna, and I wanted to circle back to polishing the wheels on both vehicles. I have some Mothers Mag and Aluminum polish, and given what I`m reading above, I`m assuming I should use Plastic Polish or PowerPlastic. Huh! Never would have thought that`s what I should use on my factory rims, but again, I`m glad I stopped here first!

  3. #3
    Serious no BS kinda guy forrest@mothers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    St Louis MO
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    Re: How to Choose the Proper Automotive Wheel Polish

    Welcome! Aluminum polish would not be appropriate for a painted or coated rim. Plastic Polish, followed by a spray wax, would be a much better choice.



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