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Now that some of you are getting into aftermarket wheels, here's some helpful tips on extending that shine for many years.

The main thing to keep in mind: Treat the wheels like you would treat the paint on the car.

Use only a soft wash mitt and a liquid car wash detergent.

No harsh chemicals. Those spray on wash off stuff will etch any and all surfaces. Your finish will become a little more cloudy (surface etching) each time your use this stuff. They can destroy the silicone seal too if you have a multi-piece wheel. (Trust me on this... I've seen it.)

Do not use a brush... Would you use a brush on the car paint?

Wash frequently:
Even if you don't intend to wash the entire car, take a bucket and wash the wheels. This keeps the brake dust from eating away at the shine. Brake dust, especially from performance pads, can be harsh if left to sit for a month. Wash them bi-weekly if possible. Easier than washing the entire car.

Wash the wheels when they are cool to the touch. Do not try to wash them after a spirited drive on a hot day. Yes, you will be tempted to do this especially after driving the car around your favorite drive and then remember that you have a date that night to impress. Do not try to hasten the cooling process by spraying cold water on hot wheels.

If you have to drive your car during the winter months (otherwise known as the salt season in locations where it happens to snow), swap out your wheels to a less expensive set with snow tires. Your factories or an aftermarket set mounted with good snow tires will make a big difference driving in the snow. This will prevent the salt from corroding your expensive aftermarket wheels. Besides the high performance tires that most of you are getting for your wheels will be ineffective in slush and snow.

If you have no other sets of wheels, then frequent washing is ever more critical during the salt season. Even if it hasn't snowed, the salt powder on the road can still affect your wheels finish. It is recommended that you wash your wheels at least once a week during this time. If it is wet, then you should wash your wheels immediately. Don't forget the insides. Come spring, you'll want to take the wheels off and thoroughly clean each wheel anyway. Understandably, there will be times where there will be sub-freezing temps and this is not possible. (This is why it is very important to either keep or have a second set of winter wheels/tires.)

If you're gong to use wax, use it only on the painted surface of the wheel. If the lip is clearcoated than use it on that.

For bare metal you shouldn't need polishing for several years, especially if it has a stainless steel lip.

A coat of wax will offer a little bit of extra protection, especially for the painted surfaces of the wheel. Those with multi-piece wheels with rivets might want to choose something with little or no residue. Cleaning the wax between the rivets is obviously a chore. Use your favorite non-abrasive clearcoat-safe wax. (In case the obvious isn't so obvious.. DO NOT spray wax directly onto the wheel. You like to stop don't you?)
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