How Do You Clean Oxidized Aluminum Wheels?

Oxidized aluminum wheels can be cleaned with a rotary power polisher, wool pads for the polisher and specialized cleaning agents for aluminum rims such as Flitz Aluminum PreClean and Wolfgang Metallwerk aluminum products. Aluminum rims are different from clear-coated alloy rims in the sense that aluminum rims can tarnish and rust. The oxidation and tarnishing requires quite a bit of work to remove.

  1. Step One: Strip the Oxidation
  2. To start the cleaning process, spray on the Flitz Aluminum PreClean to strip off some of the heavy oxidation on the surface of the rim. Let the compound sit on the rim for seven to 10 minutes and brush in areas where the oxidation is heavier if needed. Rinse the compound off with water and dry thoroughly before repeating the same process with the other rims.

  3. Step Two: Polish the Rims

  4. Using Flitz Aluminum PreClean will usually do the job of removing oxidation. However, polishing the rims will remove more of the oxidation and give the rims a mirror shine. Begin polishing by applying  Wolfgang Metallwerk Aluminum Compound on the rim as directed. Attach the appropriate wool pad to the rotary polisher and work on the compound polish slowly, building up to 3,000 RPM speed over time. Keep working on the polish until it has dried or blended into the rims.

  5. Step Three: Finish the Polish

  6. Finally, apply Wolfgang Metallwerk Fine Aluminum Polish and use the power polisher with the appropriate wool pad again until it gets the desired shine. Move on to the next stages of the aluminum polishing system if desired.