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  1. #1
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    Cool How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    hey guys and Mike,

    What are you guys using to cleanup those pesky stains on alloy wheels? I used some iron-x remover that I thought was safe for the wheels, oops, it wasn't. Caused brown spots on my wheel.

    Wheels were cool, rinsed plenty I thought, I am not sure what happened but not trying that again on these.

    I just bought some Sonax Wheel cleaner plus for future use so it shouldn't happen again, but how do i correct his?

    Seems to be some kind of chemical reaction, and I believe there is some coating on the wheels from the factory.

    Picture below, appreciate any advice as I was searching the Internets and not having luck.

    It's on a 2019 Audi RS5 20" wheel/tire if that helps.

    How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?-img_9056-jpg

  2. #2
    Super Member Coatingsarecrack's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by chavez885 View Post
    hey guys and Mike,

    What are you guys using to cleanup those pesky stains on alloy wheels? I used some iron-x remover that I thought was safe for the wheels, oops, it wasn't. Caused brown spots on my wheel.

    Wheels were cool, rinsed plenty I thought, I am not sure what happened but not trying that again on these.

    I just bought some Sonax Wheel cleaner plus for future use so it shouldn't happen again, but how do i correct his?

    Seems to be some kind of chemical reaction, and I believe there is some coating on the wheels from the factory.

    Picture below, appreciate any advice as I was searching the Internets and not having luck.

    It's on a 2019 Audi RS5 20" wheel/tire if that helps.

    How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?-img_9056-jpg
    I Don’t see brown spots....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Super Member Desertnate's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Is it the discoloration in the crease of the spoke? Hard to see in the picture.

    Have you tried gently going over it with a clay bar to see if that will remove the discoloration? That crease will be hard to get into.
    Drop by to see the latest at The Car Geek Blog

  4. #4
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by chavez885 View Post

    hey guys and Mike,

    What are you guys using to cleanup those pesky stains on alloy wheels? I used some iron-x remover that I thought was safe for the wheels, oops, it wasn't. Caused brown spots on my wheel.

    Wheels were cool, rinsed plenty I thought, I am not sure what happened but not trying that again on these.

    I just bought some Sonax Wheel cleaner plus for future use so it shouldn't happen again, but how do i correct his?

    Seems to be some kind of chemical reaction, and I believe there is some coating on the wheels from the factory.

    Picture below, appreciate any advice as I was searching the Internets and not having luck.

    It's on a 2019 Audi RS5 20" wheel/tire if that helps.
    Bummer man...

    Here's your picture.




    My guess is the staining is very TOPICAL - that is on the surface. Try massaging with a clearcoat safe compound and some microfiber. Meguiar's Ultimate Compound is available just about anywhere as well as on the AG store and is very safe.


    Meguiars Ultimate Compound, polishing compound, rubbing compound, meguiars rubbing compound, meguires, meguiars polish, auto compound polish


    For about a tick over $12.00 you can do a quick Test Spot and see if this approach works.


    Also - Good choice on the SONAX wheel cleaners. They are not only very effective but they are known to be very safe.


    Please let us know how you fix.


    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  5. #5
    Super Member oneheadlite's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Just spitballing here - are you sure that staining wasn't there when you started?

    Not only do wheels get covered in iron from brake dust, but they also get road grime and whatever other non-ferrous material from the brakes cooked onto them.

    Just wondering if the Iron X did it's job and got the iron cleaned off, but you're left with the other grime that still needs to be cleaned off. I've been using Griot's Foaming Surface Prep from a standard spray bottle (at their recommended 10:1, but I may experiment with diluting it down even further) as a wheel cleaner and it does a great job of getting them really clean - better than wheel cleaners I've used.

    Like Desertnate and Mike mentioned, physically removing it with clay or a compound/polish should also get the job done.

  6. #6
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Phillips View Post
    Bummer man...

    Here's your picture.


    My guess is the staining is very TOPICAL - that is on the surface. Try massaging with a clearcoat safe compound and some microfiber. Meguiar's Ultimate Compound is available just about anywhere as well as on the AG store and is very safe.


    Meguiars Ultimate Compound, polishing compound, rubbing compound, meguiars rubbing compound, meguires, meguiars polish, auto compound polish


    For about a tick over $12.00 you can do a quick Test Spot and see if this approach works.


    Also - Good choice on the SONAX wheel cleaners. They are not only very effective but they are known to be very safe.


    Please let us know how you fix.


    Hey Mike, appreciate the fast response. You know my small ape brain did not even think to bust out a microfiber towel and some rubbing compound. Had some Meguiar's ultimate compound in the arsenal of course, came out EASILY.

    I was definitely overthinking it and it was my first time with this problem. I tried multiple wheel cleaners/soap/scubbing and nothing would work. It's very hard to see but you know us detailers see every damn thing, blessing and a curse!

    Thank you!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by oneheadlite View Post
    Just spitballing here - are you sure that staining wasn't there when you started?

    Not only do wheels get covered in iron from brake dust, but they also get road grime and whatever other non-ferrous material from the brakes cooked onto them.

    Just wondering if the Iron X did it's job and got the iron cleaned off, but you're left with the other grime that still needs to be cleaned off. I've been using Griot's Foaming Surface Prep from a standard spray bottle (at their recommended 10:1, but I may experiment with diluting it down even further) as a wheel cleaner and it does a great job of getting them really clean - better than wheel cleaners I've used.

    Like Desertnate and Mike mentioned, physically removing it with clay or a compound/polish should also get the job done.
    I usually just pressure wash them and it gets all the brake dust off 99% of the time. But I got lazy and tried some iron-x and here we are, it definitely caused the problem, maybe I didn't rinse good enough, very possible!

    I'll have to try that Griot's foaming surface, my wheels just get a TON of brake dust, rather put something easier on them for cleaning.

    I'll be pulling them off soon enough for a full decontamination and ceramic coating to help prevent it.

    Here are some pictures of the cleanup (they get scaled down pretty badly), thanks for all the replies.

    How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?-dirty-wheels-jpgHow to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?-wheels-2-jpg

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  8. #7
    Super Member oneheadlite's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Yeah, IMO I think you're running into non-metallic contaminants. Iron X is PH neutral and designed to target ferrous particles.

    The foaming surface prep works so well on grime because it's more alkaline (works for breaking down oils/etc). Really it was made as a pre-correction spray so it was designed to thoroughly clean to prep for a correction/etc, so like you my goal is to get a really good LSP on the wheels so I can go to a milder dilution.

    I've got a little time spent cleaning Audi wheels, currently have an A6 (pictured in avatar, mine) and a Q5 (the Mrs'), plus a bunch of them before that...

  9. #8
    Super Member FUNX650's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by chavez885 View Post
    I'll be pulling them off soon enough
    for a full decontamination and ceramic
    coating to help prevent it.


    •While they’re off (and to really help prevent
    brake dust buildup) you could change out
    those high-dusting brake pads to low, low,
    very low-dusting pads from Carbotech.
    -I’m so glad I did! (Mine were the #1521)

    877. 899. 5024
    ctbrakes. com



    Bob
    "Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk."
    ~Joaquin de Setanti

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  11. #9
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by chavez885 View Post


    Hey Mike, appreciate the fast response.

    Had some Meguiar's ultimate compound in the arsenal of course, came out EASILY.

    Here's your pictures... just to note, I find painted wheels to be challenging to work on.


    Before



    After



    Good to hear and I'm confident others will find this thread with a similar issue and also find the fix.


    Thank you for the follow-up.


    Mike Phillips
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  12. #10
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean up light brown stain on alloy wheels?

    Just one more comment for everyone that will read this into the future...


    Here's a few tips for cleaning wheels,


    1: Match the correct "type" of wheel cleaner to the wheel. If unsure - contact the manufacturer.

    2: Try to choose a wheel cleaner from an established and reputable brand. If in doubt, contact the company with any questions.

    3: Always work on a cool surface in the shade.

    4: Only clean one wheel at at time. Just in case there's any incompatibility issues with the wheel cleaner you have chosen and the wheels you're cleaning. If something goes wrong, the damage will be limited to a single wheel.

    5: Do not let any brand of wheel clean dry on the wheel. Flush with water and rinse the wheel cleaner off before it has a chance to dry.



    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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