Applying Ceramic Coating For Your Wheels
Alloy wheels pretty much dominate the modern car market, and steel wheels seem to be a thing of the past. This is due to alloys being more attractive, easier on the suspension and are lighter, aiding fuel economy.
Although alloys are durable, a downside is that they are more prone to physical damage. We all know someone who’s wheels look like this!
Evidently, alloys need more care to reduce cosmetic damage caused by road grime, grit and the ever-present brake dust.
Fortunately, caring for those gorgeous alloys is pretty straightforward and can be part of your regular maintenance detailing regime of the whole motor. Prior to the ultimate step of adding a ceramic coat to the wheels for total, long-lasting protection, you will need to clean and prepare the surface – This is how to go about it:
What You Will Need
You will need the usual arsenal of car cleaning tools;
- Two buckets
- Wash mitt
- Various wheel detailing brushes
- Car shampoo
- Alloy cleaner, ensure the product is acid-free as alloys are sensitive
- Iron remover
- Alloy ceramic coating
- Tyre dressing
Top Tip: View our Wheel Good Kit here which includes our Alloy Cleaner, Iron Remover, Tyre Dressing, 30mm Detailing Brush and Squall Wheel Brush and Wheel Drying Towel.
Cleaning And Preparing Wheels & Alloys
It is usual to clean wheels when they are on the car. Hardcore enthusiasts or professionals will sometimes remove the wheels for easier detailed cleaning, front and back. Remember to bear in mind the usual safety aspects of wheel removal and the safe keeping of locking wheel nuts.
Otherwise, follow these steps:
- Give the wheels an initial rinse using a pressure washer or hose which will make inroads into removing any loose dirt and grit.
- Apply an alloy cleaner and agitate with various detail brushes and then fully rinse.
- What remains will likely be any road grease or oil and of course the inevitable brake dust. Brake dust consists of iron particles caused by the surface-to-surface brake action. It’s made of metallic elements and it likes to bake itself onto alloy wheels. For this, spray on iron fallout remover and allow to dwell as per the product instructions before rinsing off.
- Finally use a car shampoo and a designated wheel mitt and clean the wheels to ensure you have not missed any areas including behind the spokes. Remember to use the two bucket method to rinse out your wash media effectively and follow up with a final thorough rinse of the wheels.
- Dry off the wheels using a dedicated wheel drying towel or forced air to ensure the surface is clean, dry and ready for application.
Care of alloy wheels should be part of any car owners detailing regime, but it is possible to go one step further and provide wheel protection that will last for years using a ceramic coating. It is a brilliant solution, but the nature of the product means this is a job that requires the utmost care and attention to detail. A face mask and gloves are required. If in doubt, consult a professional.
How Long Does It Take To Ceramic Coat Wheels?
Forward planning is the key to this job. First, the wheels need to be scrupulously cleaned as described above. For the purposes of this task, it is best to remove the wheels from the car. Keep the wheel nuts in a box, especially the all-important locking nuts. Allow a good hour per wheel and do not expose to the elements or drive thereafter for twenty-four hours. Although it is always important to read the product instructions as this may vary across brand products.
Top Tip: A plastic sheet placed on your work area will help to keep the newly clean wheels away from any dirty surfaces.
Applying The Ceramic Coating To Wheels
This is a delicate task with a set of rules. The application process will vary depending on the product used so follow the product instructions to the letter. There are no shortcuts.
The Autobead 1 Year Alloy Coating is applied as follows:
- Clean and prepare the surface, ensuring the removal of all contamination.
- Ensure all surfaces are cool to touch and degreased using autobead surface prep.
- Apply several drops onto a microfibre applicator or the suede applicator cloth wrapped around the block provided.
- Apply to one alloy at a time, allowing the coating to bond to the surface for between 45 seconds and 2 minutes before removing the residue with a clean, dry microfibre towel.
- Buff using a buffing towel to a high gloss finish.
- Allow 2 hours to fully cure."
Here are a few top tips that will apply to almost all coatings used:
- Wear a face mask and gloves.
- Do not work in direct sunlight. Work in the shade or within a well-ventilated space in mild weather.
- Do not apply the coating in the wheel bolt locators.
- Wait for the required time to allow the ceramic coating to fully cure. Replace the wheels but leave the car alone for twenty-four hours.
- Allow a couple of weeks before washing the wheels again.
As implied, this is a tricky undertaking but is very worthwhile. The alloy wheels will have a glossy shine that is water repellent and, crucially, will be effectively non-stick, resisting brake dust and road grime and shrugging off rainwater and even road salt in winter conditions.
How Long Does A Ceramic Coating On Wheels Last?
Not only does ceramic coating protect the wheels from contamination, it is also very long-lasting. Durability can vary across brands and products but on average a ceramic coating should last a couple of years with regular upkeep and maintenance.
Aftercare: How To Keep Ceramic Coated Wheels Clean
A major advantage of this form of protection for alloy wheels is ease of cleaning subsequently. Once the ceramic coating is applied, there is no further need to wax. To clean a coated alloy follow this process:
- Rinse the wheels with a power washer to remove any surface dust or dirt.
- Spray non-acidic alloy cleaner and gently agitate with various detail brushes then rinse.
- Although the ceramic coating will protect the wheels from contaminates it is still important to decontaminate the wheels to avoid the coating from ‘clogging’. Use an iron remover every few months to remove these contaminants and rinse thoroughly.
- Dry off the wheels using a dedicated wheel drying towel or forced air.
- For that final touch spray the clean tyres with a quality tyre dressing. It brings up a showroom rubber shine as if the tyres are brand new. It’s a show and shine trick but it is effective. Respray every time the car is washed.
Alloy wheels are expensive to replace so it pays to look after them. Consider adding a ceramic coat to your alloy wheels the next time a full detail is scheduled.