Fifteen52's Wheel Care Guide

Fifteen52's Wheel Care Guide

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Show Your Wheels Some Love: The fifteen52 Wheel Care Guide.

Hey there, enthusiast! Summer is here, meaning the motorsports season and the car show scene are in full swing. We’re sure you’ve been putting some extra miles on your ride, and we love that for you however, it does lead us to a topic that's often overlooked- wheel care. Well-cared-for and clean wheels can take your car from standard to stunning, but how do you keep them looking sharp? Let's go through the basics of wheel care and why it matters. 

Why Wheel Care Is So Essential

Wheels are in the line of fire for dirt, grime, brake dust, and other deposits. Every vehicle that touches the grass, ground, pavement, etc., has to deal with the inevitable wear and tear as a byproduct of driving. We’re not saying (or even suggesting) that you run home and scrub your wheels after every trip to the store, but more that the potential for problems comes from when that buildup is left unchecked for a while. This accumulation will eventually affect the appearance of your wheels and can potentially cause damage if ignored long-term.

If you’re looking at wheel care as a housekeeping task, flip that train of thought and group it in with preventative maintenance. You spent your hard-earned dollars on these wheels, so by taking the time to clean, polish, and protect them, you can maintain their like-new finish and enhance the overall look of your vehicle for years to come. A little TLC goes a long way; as long as you don’t neglect your wheels for weeks or months, cleaning them is a quick process. 

How Often Should You Wash Your Wheels?

Ideally, you should give your wheels a basic wash with soap and water using a non-abrasive mitt or cloth once every week or two. Now, if you’ve gone on a bit of an adventure and subjected your wheels to the elements, give 'em a quick wash when you get home to save yourself the struggle later. A regular wash will add to your wheel’s appeal, but plan to do a thorough cleaning with added products for protection every 2-3 months. Trust us, your wheels will thank you for the attention!

So, What Are The Steps for Wheel Care Success?

First, make sure your wheels are cold before you start cleaning them. Pro tip: cleaning your wheels in the shade can also help avoid watermarks. Next, make sure you know the type of wheels you have and use the right products. Some compositions and coatings require specific solutions. We strongly recommend that you avoid any products that promote “rust and iron removal” as the chemicals necessary to accomplish that are incredibly harsh and if not applied quickly and correctly can seriously damage your wheels.


How to Clean your Wheels

Cleaning and Maintenance

For basic cleaning, automotive shampoo and water with a soft cloth or wash mitt is safe to use on almost all wheel finishes and will do a decent job of removing regular build-up. If you’re planning to do a deep cleaning and need to remove stubborn grime consider the following:

Factory Alloy Wheels: Most factory wheels have a clear coat that can hold up to a variety of wheel cleaning products without oxidizing the wheel’s finish. 

Aftermarket & Upgraded Wheels: If your wheels have a highly polished finish or bare metal, you must be more careful when handling them. It's best to use a pH-balanced wheel cleaner and avoid any products that are acidic based.

With any wheel, rinse thoroughly and pay special attention to crevices and lug nuts.


Polishing can enhance the gloss of your wheels and remove/improve minor surface imperfections. Clear-coated wheels can be treated the same as polishing your paint, while bare metal wheels may require metal polish. Here's a quick breakdown:

  • Test your polish on a small area before applying it to the entire wheel
  • Dispense a pea-sized drop of polish on a foam applicator pad
  • Spread the polish thinly over the wheel using a small amount of pressure, increasing as needed to work the polish until it’s slightly off-white
  • Clean off the polish with a clean microfiber cloth
  • Repeat as necessary


Lastly, once you’ve spent the time and funds to clean and polish your wheels, you’ll want to protect them from future damage. Products such as wheel sealants are specifically designed for this purpose, providing a protective layer that withstands high temperatures, increases the gloss of your wheels, and makes future cleaning easier. Although it’s not a requirement, we encourage everyone to ceramic coat their wheels before mounting. Whether you’re comfortable doing it on your own or you have a professional handle it for you, it’s definitely an investment worth making to extend the life and durability of your wheels. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive materials. Use mild detergents and automotive-specific products that won’t damage your wheels.
  2. Do not clean wheels that are hot to the touch. Rapid temperature changes can lead to damage. Move your vehicle to a shaded area to cool down and avoid watermarks.
  3. Regular basic maintenance goes a long way toward preserving your wheels
  4. Different wheels may require different polishes- be sure to check you’ve grabbed the right one and test a small area before applying it to the entire wheel.
  5. Thoroughly rinse after washing, gently wipe down after polishing and remember to add that final protective layer to increase longevity and make future cleaning easier.

When you’ve taken the time to save up for your favorite wheels, it only makes sense to do whatever you can to make them last. Even if you’re just trying to preserve the life of your factory set, wheel care should be an essential part of your vehicle maintenance routine.

Regular cleaning, proper polishing, and protective treatments will not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your car but also prolong the life of your wheels. Your wheels take on a lot of strain, from friction, and temperature fluctuations, to exposure to dust, grime, and harsh road chemicals. It may seem like a chore (it kind of is), but with the right products and a systematic approach, it can be a pretty satisfying task.

If you have any questions about your current fifteen52 wheels or wheels you’re looking at purchasing in the future and want to know more about which products we recommend, reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team. We’re happy to help!