I’ve always been a fan of shiny things – Dad calls me Kate the magpie – that’s why I fitted my first car as a new driver with alloy wheels. However, after a minor kerb collision last week, my precious alloys have lost their gleam. So, after some serious research, I’ve dedicated my blog piece today to tips for new drivers and all car owners on the best ways to keep alloy wheels safe and sparkling for longer.
Alloy wheel protection in advance
Just like the rest of your body work, it’s important to add a protective layer to your alloys regularly to keep them in tip-top condition.
Although it rarely crossed my mind before, wheels are some of the most hardworking and exposed components of a car. They can easily pick up contaminants from the road, or accumulate dust from the brakes which contain particles of iron that will degrade an alloy finish. Different alloys are affected more severely than others, with bare metal alloys being most prone to degradation.
Having done a bit of reading, I’ve found that wheel sealants are the most effective way of protecting alloy wheels. It should be applied with a soft, lint-free cloth or other non-abrasive product (such as an applicator pad) and buffed off after it’s dried. And, if you’re after ultimate protection, you can add up to two further layers to keep your alloys sparkling and contaminant-free.
While specially designed wheel sealants offer the most protection from difficult conditions and high temperatures, you can go a long way with synthetic sealant or wax, or a carnauba-based wax if you’re after the natural look.
On the road
I have a small reminder of that kerb now permanently engraved on the surface of my wheel. With figures suggesting they’re accountable for 70 – 80% of this kind of wheel damage, these minor collisions are becoming more frequent and costly for drivers.
Whether navigating a parking space, avoiding a sideswipe or failing to dodge a protruding corner, the effect is the same and it’s been dubbed ‘curb rash’. As I live in the country and got used to just pulling into my garage, it wasn’t until the little scrape that I realised how un-confident I was at parallel parking. Dad recommended double-checking the wing mirrors to make sure the kerb is visible. Apart from that, it’s been all about practice since passing my test, but I’m now getting the hang of it.
There is one thing on the road that damages alloys but is unavoidable – salt. When the gritter lorries have been out after a cold spell, that solution of water and salt will be pushed into every nook and cranny, slowly corroding your wheels. As we can’t yet get our hands on Ford’s new NASA-derived super-tough wheels, the best way to avoid this is to have a spare set of winter wheels, preferably made of steel, to take the brunt of it.
Maintenance – alloy wheel refurbishment
Now that we’ve covered the theory, here are the practical tips that I’ve picked up to keep those alloy wheels in mint condition:
Key points to remember:
- Try to clean your wheels about once per week (as often as you clean your car).
- Remove the wheels and clean them fully after winter to keep them in peak condition for longer.
- Wheels should only be cleaned when they’re cold to avoid cracking.
- Concentrate on each wheel individually to avoid missing out on areas.
- Clean your wheels first to avoid damaging bodywork with dislodged brake dust.
- Remove all loose dirt and debris with a hose before applying wheel cleaner.
- While many wheel cleaners promise extra functionality, sometimes soap and water is best.
- Abrasive materials like steel wool are likely to damage chrome.
- Acid-based cleaners (often used at the car wash) will degrade your alloys further.
Cleaning your wheels:
- Clean out your wheel arches with a hose.
- Spray on your wheel cleaner.
- Use a soft-bristled wheel brush to remove ingrained dirt and grime.
- Use a double-strength solution of wheel shampoo to remove further dirt and the wheel cleaner.
- Scrub the tyres with a tyre brush and wheel shampoo.
- Use wool or microfibre cloth to wash off the last residue of dirt.
- Rinse off all the chemical compounds with a hose and dry off as above.
- Invest in a clay bar and lubricant to remove stubborn brake dust.
Or why not save yourself the trouble and book in for a regular full service with Perrys – they can check everything while they’re at it!
Insurance – alloy wheel protection
If you really want to be assured about your beloved alloys, get in on the special insurance Perrys offer. They provide Tyre and Alloy Wheel protection for up to £250 per wheel, for two years, and for up to 5 type replacements – what more could you need for driving peace of mind?
If you’re on the lookout for a new car, or need some friendly advice from the experts on other protection Perrys can offer, why not drop in for a chat with your local Perrys dealership – they’re always happy to help.
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