Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Clean brake dust from rims

How to clean brake dust from rims

Brake dust can be a bear to remove from your rims. I’ll give you some tips on which products to use based on reviews from multiple sites. And, I’ll give you some tips on how to avoid damaging your expensive alloy wheels.

Brake dust cleaning tip #1 — No scratchy pads

The top layer of dust will come off with any cleaner, but the etched brake dust will still be there. And you’ll be tempted to use a more abrasive pad. DON’T.

Most alloy wheels have a clear coating that can be damaged by scrubbing pads.  You wouldn’t use scratchy pads on your paint, so don’t use them on your wheels.

abrasive pads for brake dust

Brake dust cleaning tip #2 No acid chemicals to remove brake dust on your wheels

The metals in brake pads and rotors turn brown and etch into your wheels. So many DIYers think, “Rust. Hmmm, I wonder what chemicals remove rust?” Then they reach for vinegar and phosphoric acid. Will it work? Yes. Will it damage the clear coat on your wheels? Yes. Don’t do it!!

no vinegar on brake dust
Brake dust cleaning tip #3 No dish washing detergent

If you read any Internet article on cleaning brake dust dawn detergentoff your wheels, you’ll see many that recommend using Dawn Dish Washing detergent. It works great for removing grease. But brake dust isn’t grease (even though it may look like grease).

Detergents are much different than car wash soaps and they should NEVER be used on car paint or automotive clear coat because they can remove not only the wax you’ve applied, but also the resins in the paint and clear coat. Dish washing detergents actually degrade the paint and clear coat. Avoid using them on your wheels when trying to remove brake dust

Brake dust cleaner reviews from multiple sites

Motor1 says Turtle Wax T-18 is their top pick

motor1 brake dust cleaner reviews
Car and Driver says that Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is the best for aluminum rims

meguiars hot rims cleaner

The Drive says that Armor All Heavy Duty Wheel and Tire Cleaner Car Wheel Cleaner Spray is their best overall pick for removing brake dust

armor all brake dust cleaner

CNET says that Sonax Wheel Cleaner Plus (230400), Rim Cleaner, Color Changing Wheel Cleaner, Break Dust Cleaner is their best wheel cleaner overall

sonax wheel cleaner

NOTE: Ricksfreeautorepairadvice.com receives a commission on products purchased through these amazon links.
©, 2023 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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