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Cleaning off heavy brake dust from wheels

Brake dust on your wheels is common, yet certainly spoils the overall appearance of your car. This grey/black mess on your wheels is the result of sticky iron particles from your brake rotor and carbon particles from your brake pads. There really is no way to avoid this soiling as each time you press on your brakes, the grinding of your rotor will release brake dust.

Should I bother cleaning the brake dust?

While dirty wheels are expected, unfortunately the longer you leave brake dust on your wheels, the more corrosive it can become, slowly corroding away the alloy wheel. In saying that, with the right product you can lift brake dust and grime from your wheels, even if it has been there for a decade.

Ultimately, we recommend cleaning your wheels regularly to not only keep those alloys in top shape, but also give you a shine to be proud of.

The problem with some wheel cleaners

One of the biggest problem with wheel cleaners is their caustic nature. By caustic, I don’t mean the smell – I mean how the chemical reacts with your car surfaces. Acid-based cleaners should be left to the professional car detailers, who will use them on a need-basis and in the right conditions.

Some car surfaces are certainly not suitable for acidic or other corrosive cleaners . This includes chrome, anodised and where your alloy surface is damaged, exposing the metal underneath.

What product is best to clean heavy brake dust off my wheels?

At AutoSmart we have a few wheel cleaners, however one of our most favourite is Red 7. Not only is it pH neutral and acid-free, it is a beast at lifting fallout, and brake dust. You can even use Red Wheel cleaner with confidence on your paintwork to remove bugs and fallout.

How to remove brake dust from wheels

Time needed: 5 minutes

  1. Hose off your wheels and tyres with your garden hose or pressure cleaner

    Dirty Car Wheeks

  2. Spray on Red 7 Wheel Cleaner and allow to dwell

    Make sure you cover your entire wheel with the cleaner. You will notice the colour changing to a deep red/purple as it comes into contact with iron particles.

    autosmart red 7 wheel cleaner

  3. Agitate for long-term brake dust

    If you cannot remember the last time you cleaned your wheels, then you will probably need to give the wheels a light scrub with a brush or wheel cleaner. Start agitating the surface after the Red 7 has changed colour
    AutoSmart grill and wheel brush

  4. Hose off

    We recommend using a pressure cleaner, however if one is not handy a hose on the jet setting will work as well. Red 7 contains gloss-enhances that leaves your alloys with an impressive shine

    Clean wheels after red 7 wheel cleaner