If you notice caked on grime on your car’s wheels and hubcaps, this is brake dust. While this is a common by-product of the brake pads wear and tear, the brake dust build-up is an eye-sore on the wheels of your beloved car. We show you how to get baked on brake dust off wheels in a few simple steps.
Brake dust accumulates on your car’s wheels as a normal part of the start-and-stop process of driving. Tiny particles shave off the brake pads each time you press on the brakes.
For the most part, this grime is unsightly, but this dust does cause staining and etching on aluminum wheels over time. Rather than taking your car into an auto detailing service, consider doing the job yourself.
While taking your vehicle to the car wash isn’t enough to remove the dust from your alloy wheels, there are several easy ways to clean a set of wheels as long as you apply a bit of elbow grease.
Easy Ways to Remove Brake Dust from Wheels
A car that looks clean and shiny yet has grimy wheels is not attractive. You may need some home remedies for cleaning headlights, too.
While cleaning your wheels takes a little bit of time and effort, it’s worth it. We explain the different ways to remove brake dust and give your vehicle the finished look it deserves.
Preparing the Wheels for Brake Dust Removal
Before learning how to remove brake dust from your car’s wheels, prepare your vehicle for cleaning. Here are a couple of steps to follow to ensure that the wheels get a safe and proper wash.
Wheel Cleaning Prep
Situate your car on an even surface and put on the emergency brake. Try to park near the lawn and avoid washing your car near a storm drain to prevent cleaning liquids from entering the system.
Remove the hubcaps from all four wheels and set them aside to wash separately. If you’ve just driven your vehicle, allow it to cool completely before cleaning the wheels.
Wear gloves and a face mask while removing brake dust to prevent inhaling the harmful dust and irritating your hands.
Homemade Brake Dust Cleaner
If you don’t have a bottle of wheel cleaner on hand to get your wheels clean, consider using soapy water. Liquid soap and water are the best solutions for making a homemade brake dust cleaner that is both cheap and effective.
The easiest way to clean aluminum wheels is to use a garden hose to spray the wheel thoroughly first to loosen grit and prevent scratching the wheel surface. Then, apply the DIY brake dust wheel cleaner.
Use the jet stream of the hose setting or a low pressure washer for more power, but use caution to prevent damaging the clear coat on your car.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add a few squirts of liquid dish detergent. Agitate the solution with your hand and use a sponge to coat the wheel surface with the cleaner.
Use an automotive brush and old toothbrush to gently scrub away grime and dust from the nooks and crannies of the wheel and apply more soapy water as needed.
Avoid using a stiff brush that leaves scratches on the wheel. After the wheel is clean, rinse it with water from a hose until all the residue is gone.
How to Remove Brake Dust with an All-Purpose Cleaner
There are various wheel cleaners on the market, from Iron X and Eagle One to Meguiars and Sonax Wheel Cleaner, and they are all useful for removing brake residue from wheels. Here is how to remove brake dust using a commercial wheel cleaner.
Spray the wheel with a garden hose to rinse away bits of grit. Follow the instructions for your wheel cleaning solution and apply the wheel cleaner for brake dust as directed.
A good all-purpose cleaner is Simple Green, but if the wheels have caked on dirt, try something a bit stronger such as an iron remover or Griot Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner.
Use a wheel brush to scrub the surface, making sure to get in all the crevices. If you cannot reach the small areas with the brush, try using an old toothbrush.
Spray the wheel with a hose to rinse away the cleaner. If any dirt remains, use a washing mitt to wipe it away.
After cleaning, you may need a rust remover for aluminum wheels. Take care of rust quickly before it gets out of hand and seal the area.
How to Get Baked on Brake Dust off Wheels with Oven Cleaner
If you don’t have a store-bought wheel cleaner sitting in the garage, oven cleaner works well for cleaning brake dust off your car’s wheels. This solution is a degreaser that loosens grime for quick and easy cleaning.
Spray the wheel with the oven cleaner and allow it to sit for the cleaner’s recommended amount of time to loosen the dust and dirt. Scrub the wheel surface, making sure to get into all the small areas.
Wheel brushes are best for the job, but an old toothbrush or rags work as well. Spray the cleaner and grimy residue away with a hose. Check the wheel to see if you missed any spots and repeat the steps if necessary.
Caring for Your Wheels after Cleaning
After you use a commercial or homemade brake dust cleaner and your wheels are grime-free, it’s a good idea to follow up by applying wax to experience the full effect of shiny wheels.
Here is how to protect your vehicle’s wheels from further brake dust and pitting.
Use a soft towel or rag to dry the wheels thoroughly. Follow the instructions on your car wax or sealant and apply it as directed.
Consider using a paste wax, such as turtle wax, for the best protection from brake dust and apply it once every six months. After washing, drying, and waxing the wheels, clean the hubcaps and replace them on each wheel.
Wheel brake dust is not only unsightly, but it causes corrosion over time. Instead of taking your car to an automotive detailer, why not roll up your sleeves?
You know your vehicle better than anyone else. While it takes a bit of time, car care is easier than you think as long as you use the right techniques.
We hope that learning how to get baked on brake dust off wheels gives your car the finished look it deserves, and we’d love it if you share our wheel cleaning guide and tips with your circle of friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest.