Quote Originally Posted by Desertnate View Post
A lot of it depends on brake pads and how the car is driven.

My own personal experience for cars I maintain and wash frequently to keep them in good shape:

Daughter's Honda Fit: I never need to use a wheel cleaner. Despite driving a fair amount, she's a cautious driver and she's running the OEM Honda pads the dealer installed when we bought the car. Those pads generate little to no dust at all and I can easily clean the wheels with regular car shampoo when I wash the car.

Wife's Toyota Highlander: She drives hundreds of miles a week for work. The brake pads currently installed dust quite a bit. These are right on the edge of needing a cleaner. If life/weather lead to the car not being washed for a month, I'll need a wheel cleaner. A wash soap won't get them squeaky clean Every two weeks or so, I can still use wash soap.

My BMW: This car has upgraded OEM performance pads and they dust like crazy. Not only that, but the dust is rather "sticky" in nature. A car shampoo will clean them up, but it won't totally remove all the brake dust. A wheel cleaner is needed to cut through the dust in order to get the wheels totally clean; even after only a week or two of normal commute driving. This goes more-so if I drive the car at a performance event or take it on a spirited back road drive. No chance the wheels will get clean with just soap. The VW GTI I owned previously was also equipped with German performance pads and resulted in a similar experience, though the BMW being a heavier car does generate more dust.

I will say, when I do use a wheel cleaner, I'm using one on the more gentle end of the spectrum (i.e. Griots Wheel Cleaner, the green stuff). I don't have to resort to acids, or the "heavy duty" wheel cleaners. I have a bottle on hand for special circumstances, but I've only had to use it once on a couple trouble spots on a set of used wheels I bought recently.

Audi non preformance pads are a nightmare after a month. 2 weeks is even bad lol. That will do it