What are the different types of wheels? And how do I figure out what I have?
There are a variety of different types of wheels. A wheel, in reference to cars, is the circular device that enables the vehicle to move efficiently across the ground due to the force created by the engine and distributed through the axil to the wheel. While it is the tire that actually makes contact with the road, it is the wheel that does the work.
There are three primary forms of wheels, the one-piece cast wheel, the Forged wheel, and the Multi-piece wheel. If you have the wheels that came with your car, it is most likely build as a forged wheel that is formed into two sections, the inner section simply called the center, which connects to the axle. The second part is the barrel, which connects to the tire. Built out of dense aluminum, each piece is pressed into its unique design, then welded together. Once welded together, the wheel has taken shape and the visual rim is applied. There is a large variety of rims, ranging from the ever present basic plastic to the harder to find steel. Each is different and needs to be treated with care to make sure your wheels look good and clean for years to come.
Let’s breakdown the four most popular types of wheels and rims, and explain what you need to look for in a cleaner to make sure that you do not damage or destroy the surface. The reason that this is important is because the wrong cleaner can actually cause pitting and etching into the surface of a metal. If you do not know what type of wheel or rim that you have, be safe and use a pH neutral cleaner like Black Magic® No Scrub. It has been specifically formulated to not harm wheels, and tested to make sure it provide the best clean possible.
Aluminum wheels dominate the roads, and most cars out now have them. Unless you went out of your way to get some awesome aftermarket rim, or you have a lower cost plastic rim on a steel wheel, then you almost certainly have an aluminum alloy wheel. These come in a variety of look and can also be a variety of colors. When cleaning your aluminum wheels you need to make sure that you have a cleaning product that is high on the alkaline side of the pH scale, so between 0 (acid) and 14 (alkaline) you want to be in the 10-14 range. Black Magic Aluminum wheel cleaner is made to be high on the alkaline side of the spectrum allowing it to be gentle on the surface while still cleaning and polishing. The reason that you want to stay away from acid based cleaners, is because they breakdown the aluminum at the chemical level, releasing a hydrogen particle and deteriorating.
Chrome wheels are actually either aluminum or steel wheels with layers of chrome added to it. This is because chrome by itself would not be strong enough to withstand the pressure it takes on while driving. So the core metal is made out of one of the more durable options. Once the chrome is applied, it will provide a level of shine and durability against rust. However they do require a bit more attention and maintenance compared to other wheel options. To make sure that you keep your chrome wheel clean, shiny and protected you need to make sure that you use a cleaner with glycolic acid, which safe on the chrome without causing deterioration through oxidization. Go to your local retailer and buy the Black Magic Chrome Wheel Cleaner. This product is formulated specifically for use on chrome and tested against the other leading brands to outperform in cleaning. Also, if you know that you have PVD Chrome Wheels, make sure to use the Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner. PVD, Physical Vapor Disposition, uses a powder coating process that makes the wheel more durable but still retains the look of traditional chrome wheels.
Plastic rims are sometimes found on either basic steel or aluminum rims. Your best bet to keep these clean is to use Black Magic No Touch Wheel cleaner, since it is a neutral cleaner that uses surfactants to remove brake dust, dirt and road grime.
Basic Steel wheels are available and are usually found on trucks. If you have steel wheels, there is a very high chance that it either has a plastic rim, or a protective coating. To make sure that you keep these protected stick with a neutral cleaner, like Black Magic No Scrub.
Once you are done cleaning and protecting your wheels, you cannot forget your tires. Check out our amazing tire care products, the #1 selling tire cleaner Black Magic Bleche Wite Tire Cleaner, and Black Magic Tire Wet Tire Shine the #1 selling tire shine.