People invest much on their cars appearance, and that includes the installation of custom wheels. Custom wheels not only enhance and beautify your ride, but also improve your performance and handling.
Below, we have provided you with some of the best aluminum polishes on the market today, all high quality products represented by excellent companies.
How to Polish Aluminum Wheels?
Aluminum wheels are built and designed to shimmer and shine with mirror like reflection, similar to that of chrome. As such, most car owners throughouly enjoy the pleasure derived from polishing their aluminum wheels. Cleaning and and polishing is more than looks, as your wheels will have a tendency to dull and oxidize over time. Below is our guide for polishing your alumnin wheels for both beauty and protection from the elements.
1. Gather Your Supplies- Gather plenty of soft towels, protective gear such as gloves, goggles and masks, as well as your preferred polishing products. Make sure your towels are of the lint-free variety, or use microfiber towels. Also, remember this is a guide, you must pay attention to the directions given on your specific polishing product of choice for the best results.
2. Clean Your Car- Do not skip this step, especially if you plan on leaving the wheels on your car. Clean your car by hand using a power washer if possible, but not at a commercial car wash. Because the commercial car wash will not sufficiently clean your vehicle, as the removal of stubborn brake dust from your wheels, requires old fashioned ‘elbow grease’, soap and a wash brush.
3. Clean Your Wheels- Aluminum is a soft metal, so the last thing you want to do is to grind dirt into the aluminum during the polishing process. Examine your wheels, look for anything, such as old gum, sticker residue, grease and grime and remove it, then rinse. Next, check your rims for ‘curb rash’. This is the result of your wheel scratching the curb during parking, and use a flat file to remove it.
4. Rinse Using a Pressure Washer- After cleaning and degreasing your wheel, you must apply a strong force of water. Pressure washers can be expensive, but there are companies that rent them out for a nominal fee. When you use the pressure washer, take care to get into the crevices, such as around the lug nuts and rims. It’s absolutely imperative that your wheel be completely free from grime and soap before you continue.
5. Even Out and Smooth the Surface- Aluminum is a soft metal, so if you wish to get the best our of your polishing session, it is a must that you smooth out the surface of your wheel. You do this using buffing wheels and buffing compounds, which work together to even out the pits and ridges. During this process, please take precautions and use protective gear such as gloves, masks and goggles while buffing.
Why We Chose the Three Metal Polishes for you?
Below you will find a summary of our top three picks for the best metal polish for aluminum wheels. Each and every one of our chosen products ranks high in customer satisfaction and are manufactured by trustworthy companies that back their products. You will find that each metal polish has its own unique qualities, whether it is the color changing foam from SONAX, the variety of metals other than aluminum which can be cleaned, from the Chemical Guys, and the clean, polish and protective properties of Zephyr 40, each one suits a particular clientèle.
Our number one choice is SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect, as it will work with all aluminum wheel finishes: Clear coated, billet, bare aluminum, painted and chrome-clad, as its pH balanced formula guards against deterioration of clear coated and painted wheels. Additional perks that come with this choice include ease of application, no wait time, and can be used on other parts such as calipers. Another huge plus for SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect, is that it alerts the user when the cleaning is complete, by the foam changing color from bright green to red. As such, it is reasonably priced, easy to apply and leaves no room for error due to color changing foam.
Number two on our list is Chemical Guys SPI_402_16 Heavy Metal Polish, specifically designed to restore shine to metal car parts, and is beneficial to those whose aluminum wheels have a billet finish. The advantage of using this polish, is that while it works for your aluminum wheels, it can also be used on other metals found on your car, such as brass, silver, gold and chrome, so it functions as an all around metal cleaner. What you’ll really find handy, is that it not only eliminates oxidation and stains, but adds a protective coating to protect from any future damage.
Zephry Pro-40 Metal Polish rounds out the top three choices and is chosen based on its ability to clean, polish and protect wheels with aluminum and chrome finishes. This easy to apply polish has the distinction of being the number 1 polish chosen by heavy duty truckers to keep their rigs sparkling clean. Zephyr Pro-40 Metal Polish is a nifty little multi-tasker, as it will clean your wheels, polish your wheels and apply a seal of protection which will prevent staining and oxidation, which makes it a handy, all around metal polish.
How to Choose the Best Polish for Aluminum Wheels?
While it is not difficult to clean and polish your wheels, it is important that you follow a few basic guidelines in choosing the best polish for your particular wheel finish. If you do not choose an appropriate aluminum wheel polish you can end up with dull, lack luster wheels amid a mass of streaks. Below we have listed the various types of finishes commonly found on aluminum wheels, and it is by knowing your finish that you will choose the best aluminum polish for you.
1. Clear-Coated or Painted Finish- When a car rolls out of the factory today, chances are the wheel finish will be a clear-coated or painted finish for easy maintenance. This finish is classified as soft and will become dull and stain over time if not maintained properly. An easy check to see if your clear-coated wheels should be polished, is to check for light surface scratches.
2. Bare Aluminum- This finish is going to require mandatory, regular maintenance in order to retain its integrity. Aluminum is a soft metal, so will take the hits of regular road travel hard, resulting in pits, ridges and curb rash, not to mention oxidation and staining. If you are in doubt as to whether your aluminum wheel is coated or not, rub a tiny bit of polish on the wheel. If the area turns black, it is an uncoated finish.
3. Billet Finish- This is a rather dense type of aluminum wheel obtained from a machining process. Aluminum wheels with a billet finish can attain a higher brilliance than coated or bare aluminum wheels. When polishing the billet finish, it is mandatory that the polish not dry while you are in the process, so it is best to do a small section at a time.
4. Chrome Clad Finish- The Chrome Clad Finish gives the spark and flash of chrome to your wheels. This chrome-look finish is bonded to an aluminum wheel. If you just purchased a used car, and wish to know if your wheels are chrome clad, simply give a light tap on the wheel, and if it sounds more like plastic than metal, then you have a chrome clad finish.
7 Best Aluminum Cleaner and Polish List
|Chemical Guys||1.1 pounds||USA|
Top 7 Aluminum Polish Reviews
Make your wheels and rims gleam and shine with SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect. SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect is the aluminum wheel cleaner to call upon when you need to remove tough dirt, grime and debris, including the much dreaded brake dust. Designed for easy application, SONAX Wheel Cleaner utilizes a unique color changing foam formula which alters color to let you know it is cleaning your wheels.
The acid free, pH neutral formula is designed to be non-corrosive and can be used safely on the following surfaces: painted, alloy, aluminum, stainless steel, chrome, anodized and clear coated, without concern of deteriorating paints or coatings. Easy to use, simply spray on SONAX Wheel Cleaner and wait a bit. When you first spray SONAX on the wheel or rim, it will appear a bright fluorescent green.
When the foam turns red, that is your signal that SONAX has done its job. At this point you may then rinse and wipe with a soft, lint free towel. So sparkle up those rims and brighten up your whitewalls, along with other vehicular metal parts and accessories with SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect.
Summary- Fast, easy and meticulous, freeing your wheels from grease, brake dust, grime and oil is a snap with SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect. Having a pH balanced formula means that it is acid free, so can be used on a variety of surface finishes such as chrome, alloy, aluminum, painted, anodized and clear-coated. The all around top of the line metal polish, especially for those who collect cars and have a variety of wheel finishes to clean and polish. Easily one of the best metal polish products on the market today.
Heavy Metal Polish by the Chemical Guys is designed with the detailer in mind. Specifically formulated to bring back the original brilliance to metal surfaces suffering from severe oxidation and tarnishing. Heavy Metal Polish restores the following metals: Stainless steel, copper, aluminum, brass, silver, gold, metallic coatings such as chrome.
Heavy Metal Polish is developed with advanced protective polymers which not only eliminate the stains of time which remove shine and brilliance, but also help to protect against oxidation by putting up a barrier to the effects of oxygen, the elements and general road wear. Heavy Metal Polish also can be used to polish diamond plate, trim pieces, engine components, exhaust tips, metal wheels, and brightwork. This polish is engineered as a micro-polishing formula which works to clean and polish, giving your wheels a shine comparable to professional detailers.
Application is easy. You simply need a few drops on a high quality microfiber applicator, and proceed to polish your aluminum wheels until you receive the desired level of shine. You may also elect to try this polish on precious metals not connected to your car.
Summary- Nothing can dull the brilliance of your cars shine like the effects of time. When oxidation and tarnish plagues an otherwise gorgeous vehicle, it is time to use Heavy Metal Polish. This polish eliminates the effects of tarnishing and oxidation and can be used on a wide variety of metals from stainless steel, copper, aluminum, brass, silver and gold to diamond plate and exhaust tips. An all around excellent choice to help bring your cars beauty back to life.
Zephyr Pro-40 Metal Polish is also known as the ‘ultimate maintenance polish’, being a top favorite among truckers in the heavy duty trucking industry. This refers to its ability to provide not only a brilliant shine to your aluminum wheels, but its formula is specifically designed to clean your wheels from grease, dirt and debris, polish your wheels so they achieve a high reflective shine. This metal polish also provides a protective coating which works to repel oxidation, tarnish, effects of the elements and general road wear, including brake dust.
Application of Zephyr Pro-40 Metal Polish is extremely easy, as it is developed to be an easy on and easy off metal polish, and is considered the quickest and easiest metal polish on the market today, working its magic in less than half the time as its major competitors. As a result car owners also find themselves using it as a clean up aide for their greasy and grimy tools. Zephyr Pro-40 Metal Polish works on the following wheel finishes: Stainless steel, aluminum and chrome, and might not be the best choice for clear-coated or painted finishes.
Summary- Some call Zephyr Pro-40 Metal Polish the ultimate in maintenance polish. It cleans, polishes and protects, and does it in half the time required by many of its competitors. The number one choice by heavy duty truckers, this polish cleans stainless steel, aluminum and chrome effortlessly. Excellent product for those in need of a tough maintenance polishing product.
Purple Metal Polish/deoxidizer Combo is a metal cleaning and polishing, 2 in 1 product that not only cleans your wheels, but also works to deoxidize the surface without the effects of streaking, burning or causing other damage to your wheels finish, which can occur during the dexoidizing process. Most car owners use Purple Metal as a cleaner before polishing as it is known for its ability to remove grease and oil from the wheels. As this is a combination product, you first want to use the aluminum deoxidizer to clean your surface.
Afterwards you would apply the Purple Metal Polish and buff until you achieve a nice, brilliant shine. Car owners who like this product do so as it is a no-rub metal polish. Which means that the cleaner/polish does all the work.
Purple Metal Polish is formulated to clean and protect your aluminum wheels, giving a deep clean without risk of scratching the soft aluminum finish. Purple metal polish has other garage uses as well, including removal of slight scratches from motorcycle windshields, and headlight covers. Purple Metal Polish is not designed to be used on clear-coated finishes.
Summary- Purple Metal Polish/Deoxidizer Combo is a solid product which will take remove oxidation from your aluminum wheels as well as produce a nice shine. However, take care with regards to your aluminum wheels particular finish, as you cannot use this product on clear-coated finishes. Satisfactory results, good shine and easy to use.
Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish is specifically designed to be used on aluminum wheels that lack a clear-coat finish or on wheels with an open metal finish, such as magnesium. What many users find extraordinary about Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish is its ability to handle troublesome brake dust from wheels with little work involved, usually only requiring a rag. It is because of this that Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish is an easy favorite among owners of classic cars and professional detailers.
Mothers is easy to apply and remove. Simply start by rubbing a bit of polish on your wheel until you see some dark residue emerge. After the wheel is clean and residue removed, proceed to dry with a cotton towel. Mothers utilizes a ‘secret formula’ to attain its brilliant shine on aluminum wheels.
Moreover, this polish can also be used on car parts and accessories such as valve covers, header plates, brass and alloys. The formula is ‘balanced’, which means that it is tough enough to use on heavy duty dirt, such as brake dust, yet safe to use when doing regular wheel maintenance.
Summary- Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish is the go to metal polish for those who need a tough, all around maintenance polish which is tough on brake dust, but gentle enough to use during regular maintenance. For use on wheels that do not have a clear-coat finish and those that have an open metal finish such as magnesium. A tough, solid and good metal polish.
Adams Metal Polish 1 & 2 Combo is a 2 step metal polishing process that is highly favored among car owners. By simply placing a few drops on a dry, lint free cloth you have initiated a polishing system that is guaranteed to make your aluminum wheels shine as brightly as chrome. Adams works on all raw finishes and is often chosen by individuals who show their cars, due to its high performance shine.
Adams Metal Polish 2-step system is also well respected for taking badly neglected aluminum wheels, covered in oxidation, rust and tarnish, and returning them to show room status. Adams Metal Polish Combo works on the following metals: aluminum, chrome, stainless steel, and nickel plate. For that special, one of a kind ‘show quality shine’, choose Adams metal Polish 2-step system, and bring that mirror-like reflective brilliance to your aluminum wheels.
If you are unsure about the finish on your wheels, take a tiny bit of Adams Metal Polish #1 and rub it into a small spot on your wheels surface. If you see a dark, black residue appear, you have raw aluminum wheels. This means that you can use the 2-step Adams Metal Polish system. However, if you do not see the residue, then do not use this product, as your aluminum wheels have a clear-coat finish.
Summary- Adams Metal Polish Combo 1 & 2 is a fabulous 2-step polishing system that is second to none when it comes to bringing brilliance to your raw aluminum wheels, or car parts/accessories which are made of chrome, stainless steel, nickel plate or any raw metal materials. Known as one of the top performers for the auto show crowd, Adams is easy to use, yet tough on dirt, even bringing aged and neglected raw aluminum wheels back to life. A good product for those who are interested in a show quality appearance.
3M 09020 Marine Aluminum Restorer & Polish is designed for marine use, but works very well on all bare or painted aluminum wheels. 3M has incorporated a special combination of waxes and compounds which works to restore luster to your aluminum wheels as well as add a protective coating in the process. 3M 09020 Marine Aluminum Restorer & Polish will remove heavy oxidation and staining from your bare aluminum wheels, and will greatly reduce the unsightly effects of the elements, and general wear and tear.
3M 09020 not only cleans and polishes your wheels, but an application will also provide protection from the harmful effects of UV light. When using this metal polish, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way, so only apply enough polish to get the job done, as this will reduce your polish and buff time considerably. 3M has formulated their product to be able to be used both by hand, as well as buffing machines.
This is also considered a ‘2 in 1’ combination product, as it both polishes and protects simultaneously. While this product works on both bare and painted aluminum surfaces, it is highly recommended that before applying to a painted surface, test a small patch first, to test the effect. Though it is designed for boats, it is capable of producing a nice, protective shine on your wheels.
Summary- Though this metal polish is designed for boats, it can easily be applied to your aluminum wheels that have a bare or painted finish. This ‘2 in 1’ combo product not only produces a suitable shine, but also adds protection from the elements, including the harmful effects of UV light. A good product for restoration and general polishing, will give a suitable shine for your wheels.
How to Make Aluminum Wheels Shine?
Having aluminum wheels that shine is due to proper care and maintenance. I cannot stress enough that due to the nature of aluminum being a soft metal, you simply must only use a wheel polishing product which handles aluminum or else you risk discoloration and damage to your aluminum wheels surface finish. Below are the steps for maintaining your wheels properly, so they retain their original shine.
1. Apply Your Chosen Aluminum Wheel Cleaner- After making sure you have chosen the proper aluminum wheel cleaner for your particular wheel finish, liberally apply the cleaner to your wheels, being mindful to get into all nooks and crannies. Remember, that it is important to follow the directions on your particular product to the ‘T’. If you do not, your results can be one of streaks and cloudiness, instead of a lovely, reflective finish.
2. Lug Nuts- It may sound trivial at first, but please do not forget to clean your lug nuts. This is imperative as brake dust is a tough contender to deal with, and it simply loves to nestle around them. You may need a lug nut brush to get in and around the lug nut and lug nut holes.
3. Fender Wells- Fender wells are also known as ‘wheel wells’, and an unbelievable amount of dirt, debris and grease can become impacted there. If necessary, you may need to apply more cleaner at this point to ensure your fender wells are completely cleaned, using a long handled bristle brush to help you along. Remember, only use a bristle type brush to clean out the fender wells, and never apply it to your wheels, or you may damage the surface finish.
4. Wait Time- Apply your cleaner again if necessary before the final polish. Again, this may differ depending on your aluminum cleaner. But usually we let the aluminum wheel cleaner soak into the wheel surface. Wait time should average about 10 to 15 minutes. After the wait is over, rinse your wheel free from all traces of the cleaner.
5. Dry Your Wheel Immediately- Drying prevents spotting and streaking from occurring. So how you dry your aluminum wheel is up to you and your products directions. But basically you will be simply using a soft, clean lint free towel, or microfiber cloth to dry the wheels, making sure you hit every surface, crevice and dip in the wheels design.
The Final Words (Conclusion)-
As can be seen, finding the best aluminum polish to clean your aluminum wheels depends on several factors, but none so important as knowing the exact type of finish is on your wheels. Each and every product will have its own particular qualities for its own purpose. Some products are for basic cleaning and protection, and others are to produce an auto show quality shine.
Whichever product you choose, you can be sure that those we have listed today represent the absolute best on the market. Favorites with the ‘car crowd’, you can rest assured that they will perform more than adequately for your personal driving needs. Finding the best metal polish might not be easier, but we are sure that after reading our article, it can be made a much simpler process.