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Car Care - Wheel and Tyre Care
Shiny wheels and black tyres make your car look sharp and cared for.
Keeping them in good condition is easier than you think and well worth the effort. To me, just washing your car and forgetting the wheels and tyres is a bit like wearing a clean suit with dirty shoes - the extra effort is always worthwhile.
Let's talk about alloy wheels first. Just like the paint on most cars, alloy wheels are covered with a protective clear-coat paint to prevent degradation and damage to the metal underneath. However, the wheels are subjected to different dirt than car paint so they need to be cared for in a different way. Regular car shampoo is not strong enough to remove the invading dirt on wheels and here's why:
We drive and we stop. There's nothing new in that but each time we apply the brakes, our wheels are bombarded with tiny metallic particles known as brake dust. As they land on the wheel's clear-coat, two actions occur - because they are quite hot they bake into the surface, and because they are metallic they will corrode the paint even further if left unattended. Brake dust becomes visible as a grimy black film and it shouldn't be left for more than a few weeks before cleaning. The damage, known as galvanic corrosion, will leave the wheel pitted, marked and vulnerable to further attacks of brake dust.
This dirt won't ever be properly removed with car shampoo. It's far too tough for this type of cleaner. You will need to use a Wheel Cleaner for this. Usually these cleaners are very acidic so a certain amount of care must be taken when using them. But they have to be strong as they need to soften the dirt, in some cases actually getting between the dirt and the paint, making it easier for you to remove it. Apart from brake dust, you will find various other forms of dirt on the wheel such as tar, oil and road grime, all of which will also be removed by a good wheel cleaner.
However (there's always a "however"), choose your wheel cleaner carefully. Cheaper ones are not always the best choice. It might say "Wheel Cleaner" on the outside, but the ingredients can be nasty cocktails of oxalic, phosphoric and hydrochloric acid. None of these are nice so, even with good wheel cleaner, I highly recommend wearing rubber gloves when you clean your wheels. Never let the cleaner sit for more than three minutes on the wheel and rinse well. Always rinse well as residual cleaner can get under the clear-coat and cause a frosting or white marking of the clear-coat. Basically, follow the manufacturer's instructions and you will be fine.
When cleaning wheels, I find the following indispensable: A paint brush with about an inch cut off the bristles, a medium toothbrush and a clean cotton cloth. The paint brush is good for agitating the cleaner and loosening the dirt. I always put some insulation tape around any metal on a paint brush though, as this can mark the wheel very easily. The bristles shouldn't be too short though. If you rub it against your hand and it hurts, then it is no good for the task - that is my rule of thumb with mostly everything that touches car paint, and it hasn't let me down yet.
Those are the basics of wheel cleaning, but tyres are equally important and need to be cleaned differently. Firstly you should get an idea of what happens with tyres as this will help you appreciate why you can't use just any old cleaner or dressing on them. If you were to see rubber going into a tyre factory, it would be grey, not black. Untreated tyres would have a very short life if they weren't protected against the elements and the environment, so amongst other ingredients, Carbon Black is added during the manufacturing process. Carbon Black protects the tyre against Ultra Violet rays by absorbing them and converting them into heat so they can be diffused safely. But the Carbon Black has a limited life-span because, as it does its job, it diminishes itself. When it is no longer there to protect the tyre, the original grey rubber colour starts to reappear.
Along with Carbon Black, the tyre manufacturer mixes in other protective ingredients to repel ozone from the rubber. These waxes and polymers migrate through the tyre at a molecular level to form a barrier against harmful ozone. As the tyres move (with the car being driven) the rubber flexes and heats up, allowing tiny amounts of the wax to surface. When a vehicle is not being driven (eg, classic show cars, weekend cars) then this action and effect is not happening. The rubber can easily dry and rot in this situation.
For the rest of us who have one car, which gets us to work or to the shops, we have the prospect of good tyres but to keep them looking clean and sharp, we can add an extra protective dressing. Unfortunately, manufacturers rarely put ingredients on the bottles of car care products. I recommend that you avoid petroleum-based dressings. Apart from attracting dirt (being sticky and greasy) they also cause degradation of the tyre surface. It's usually impossible to tell from the labels on dressing products, so here are some symptoms of bad chemicals to watch out for on the tyres:
The best dressings are water-based and these give added protection as they dry and leave a coating on the rubber. Dressing should be applied with a rag to ensure even coverage over the surface. It is best to apply it when the wheel is clean and dry as it is more obvious where the dressing is going. Here is a summary of best cleaning techniques:
1. These should always be the first steps of a full car wash. If the wheels and tyres are still hot from driving, let them cool or hose them down.
And that's it! Some people like a shine to their tyres but I like the flat, matt look. It's more natural and lasts longer than a shiny effect. It just depends how you buff off. Use the cloth for the matt look, or the sponge for the shiny effect.
Do you have any questions about caring for tyres, wheels or any other part of a car? Then CLICK HERE NOW! and I will be happy to answer. Go on, And all advice is FREE!
Take Care Out There,
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Content as of Friday 24th of May 2013 01:49:09 AM
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