Where every weekly wash or detailing service starts: the wheels and wheelhouse! But why do we start there? Why don't we just start at the top of the car and work our way down and keep the wheels as last? In this article we'll be discussing all the subjects that have anything to do with wheels, tyres, the wheelhouse and the brake caliper. It doesn't matter if you're a starting detailer of a pro, you'll be learning some things in this post or remind yourself why we do certain things in certain ways with certain products as detailers!
Let's start at the beginning, why do we start with cleaning the wheels, wheelhouse and brake caliper? It has a pretty simple reason. The wheels come in contact with the road and when you start driving and the wheels start spinning they also start throwing up a lot of dirt and debris that end up everywhere on the car. But the wheels and wheelhouse are the dirtiest part of the car. On these parts there is also a lot of brake dust which is a really harsh substance, that's one of the reasons why we want to remove it as fast and as safe as possible. Besides that we will also be using brushes to rub down the wheels and wheelhouse and there is a big possibility that there will be dirt splashing on the paint. Also the high pressure washer or the garden hose can splash dirt and debris on your paintwork. If we were to wash the paintwork first and then the wheels then we would be making our clean paintwork dirty again and we would have to start over. This would mean we wouldn't just lose time and product, but we'll also be increasing the chance for leaving scratches on the paint. It's all in the details!
But how do we start with washing these parts? Well, ofcourse it's best to remove the wheels so you can reach the brake caliper and wheelhouse easier. We'll be discussing here how to clean these parts:
If you can remove your wheels then this will be a lot easier to clean your wheelhouse into the smallest details. If you can't remove your wheels or jack your car higher, then a foam lance that works on a pressure washer or a garden hose will also work well to foam the hard to reach places. There are also foamguns that work with high pressure or with a manual pump which are also verry useful when detailing a car. Big and small detailing brushes are also recommended. Especially a angled brush is useful when you can't remove your wheels. When we decided how we're going to approach our wheelhouse, we use a strong degreaser or pre-wash product to foam the wheelhouse and brake caliper.
The wheelhouse is a area that gets really dirty and barely get a really good wash, that's why we recommend using a really strong degreaser or pre-wash. After we used a foam to cover the entire wheelhouse we can use brushes to agitate the dirt and make it easy to remove with a high pressure washer. Use enough water to remove all the foam and dirt from the small places in the wheelhouse and brake caliper. If there is still some dirt and black spots left then a brake cleaner that reacts with metal parts and brake duts such as Nanolex Wheel cleaner work really well here to remove all the brake dust that's caught in the wheelhouse. It's best to dry the wheelhouse before spraying the wheel cleaner into the wheelhouse, beceause if there's still water left in the wheelhouse then the water will dilute the wheel cleaner and it won't work as well as it should. You can use the detailing brushes again to agitate the wheel cleaner again and if the wheel cleaner turns red/purple and looks a bit dry then this means that the product is no longer working and it's ready to be washed off.
If there are still black/brownish spots left then this is most likely tar. Make sure that the wheelhouse is dry again before using a tar remover such as the Nanolex Tar Remover. This is for the same reason we dry the wheelhouse before spraying the wheelhouse with wheel cleaner. Spray the tar remover all around the wheelhouse and wait a few moments. Then you can start using the detailing brushes again to remove the tar, or use a microfiber towel and spray some tar remover directly on the spot and the microfiber towel and scrub the spot untill it comes off. After that we can rinse the wheelhouse again and this time the wheelhouse should be nice and clean.
- Brake caliper
The brakecaliper is pretty much cleaned the same way as the wheelhouse. Again, it's really helpful if we can remove the wheel or if we can use a foam lance and pressure washer.
We start by trying to remove as much dirt and debris from the brake caliper before we even touch it. We do this by using a strong degreaser or a pre-wash. It can't hurt to use strong wheel cleaners and degreasers on the brake caliper and brake pads, so no need to worry about this. Brake cleaner is also a degreaser but we wouldn't recommend this as a first step cleaner. After using a foam or degreaser on the brake caliper we can rinse with water. After this there should already be a lot less dirt and debris on the brake caliper.
However, there will probably still be a lot of brake dust on the brake caliper. We can easily remove this with a brake cleaner that reacts to the brake duts such as Nanolex Wheel Cleaner. Just make sure the brake caliper is dry before spraying it with the wheel cleaner. Otherwise the water will dilute the wheel cleaner and make it a lot less effective. You can dry the brake caliper with a microfiber towel or compressed air. When the brake caliper is dry you can spray the wheel cleaner on the brake caliper and let it sit for a moment. Then you can use the detailing brushes to agitate the dirt and brake dust. after that you can rinse with a lot of water.
After using the wheel cleaner the brake caliper should be clear of dirt and brake dust. If there are still black of brown spots left then this is probably tar. To remove this we use the same method as with the brake dust, only we use tar remover this time such as Nanolex Tar Remover. Make sure the brake caliper is dry again and then spray the tar remover on the brake caliper and let it sit for a moment. Then you can start using the detailing brushes again to remove the tar, or use a microfiber towel and spray some tar remover directly on the spot and the microfiber towel and scrub the spot untill it comes off. After that we can rinse the brake caliper again with water and this time the brake caliper should be clear of any debris or brake dust.
The wheels are a part of the car that give the car a lot of its looks. Thats why it's also important that we maintain the wheels really well since a nice car with dirty wheels is just sad to look at. If you can remove the wheels this will help ofcourse to really clean every last spot of the wheels. Also a foam lance and a high pressure washer helps. Brushes will be very useful so we highly recommend investing in some good detailing brushes if you haven't already!
It's also important to get the wheels as clean as possible before we touch them. We can do this by spraying the wheels with a withcleaner that reacts to metal parts such as the Nanolex Wheel Cleaner. You'll see that when the product is sprayed on the wheels and you let it sit for a few moments that it will turn red/purple meaning it's working the brake dust, rust spots, etc... You can use a high pressure washer when the product starts to dry and remove a lot of dirt from the wheels already without touching them this way.
However we do recommend drying the wheels after this stage with a microfiber towel before applying another coat of wheel cleaner. We do this beceause there will still be some dirt and brake dust stuck on the wheels that will need a bit of scrubbing from your detailing brushes. If the wheels are still wet then the water will dilute the wheel cleaner making it less effective. So when you made sure the wheels are dry by using a microfiber towel or compressed air, we can spray some wheel cleaner on the wheels again. Now we start working the product with our detailing brushes. This should remove all the brake dust and dirt that's still stuck on your wheels. If your wheel are still on the car then we recommend working from the top left to the bottom and then from the right half of the wheel from top to bottom. This is the most efficient way to clean the wheel. After this we can rinse and dry the wheel.
If there are still black/brown spots left on the wheels then these are probably tar spots. The best way to clean these are with tar removers such as Nanolex Tar Remover. Spray the product on the wheel and let it sit for a moment. If you want or if its needed then you can agitate these spots with a detailing brush or you can spray some tar remover on the spot and on a microfiber towel and then scrub the spot with the microfiber towel. After this you will see that the spot starts to disappear. After this we can rinse again with water. However it's likely that your wheels will still feel kind of rough. This means that there are small contaminations stuck in the paint of your wheels.
We can remove these by using a rough/hard clay and clay lube. Spray some clay lube on your clay bar and the wheel and start rubbing the clay bar on the surface of the wheel. You will notice that the surface starts to feel smoother and smoother and that the face of your clay bar that you're using to scrub the wheels will have some spots in them and starts to look dirty. So regularly check your clay bar and re-mold it every once in a while so you get a clean clay bar again. If you do happen to drop your clay bar out of your hands or put it down somewhere that isn't perfect clean, throw away the clay bar right away. The smallest bit of debris and contamination will get stuck in the clay bar and if you do use it again you will be scratching the car paint. When your wheels feel soft and smooth then you can dry them and they should be nice and clean!
As last on the list we have the tyres. The tyres are often forgotten by most people, but they are certainly not unimportant! The tyres are in contact with the road amm the time and carry a lot of dirt. After a while the tyres will get really dirty and start to get really dry and brown, ruining the look of your wheels. And even though tyres might look nice and black sometimes, there's most likely dirt still stuck in the pores of the rubber.
We start off by using a pre-wash or degreaser to foam in the tyres. We can use a foam lance again or a manual pump foam bottle. Or if you want you can spray the product directly on the tyre, however we do like to use some foam whenever possible.
When the tyres are sprayed with product then we will use a hard brush to really scrub the tyre and work the product into the rubber. However do keep in mind not to scrub the hard brush on the wheels beceause you might cause scratches then. You don't need to worry to damage the tyres, they can handle a harsh brush and strong chemicals. You can use a soft brush aswell if you want, but the rubber from tyres is quite hard and strong so a rough brush will work better than a soft one. You will notice that after a while the foam will start to turn brown-ish. This means you're removing dirt from the tyres. If the foam turns really brown, really fast then you're better off rinsing the tyres and re-applying the product beceause there's only so much dirt the chemicals can remove before they stop working. When the foam doesn't turn brown anymore then this means the tyres are clean. After this the tyres will also be in better shape to be protected again with a dressing or with a coating.
Great! You now know how to start your weekly wash or your full detail job! However we only did the verry beginning of the detailing process. After this you could either continue cleaning your car, or you can protect and use a dressing on your wheels, tyres, wheelhouse or brake caliper. We will be updating this blog in the future so stay tuned!