Four Things To Avoid While Polishing Aluminum WheelsMaintaining your wheels is a tedious and difficult job. And there are certain things to avoid while polishing aluminum wheels. If done correctly and frequently, you can keep your rims looking new for many years. Let’s face it, everyone wants shiny, clean rims.

Let’s say you have yourself a set of sick American Force Rims and just want those bad boys to shine. It’s not as simple as just washing your car while it sits in your driveway. Although that would be really, really nice. It takes a lot of elbow grease, real grease, specially designed cleaning products, and some handy tools to get the job done.

While polishing aluminum wheels is not rocket science, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Get Cheap Tools and Material

This principle applies to everything in life. You don’t always have to choose the cheapest option. You almost never want the cheapest option. This applies to everything, but especially to things that you take pride in. If you are hand-polishing your cars, we will assume you are the kind of driver who takes pride in your car.

You Don’t Need The Most Expensive Option

We don’t mean to discourage you from buying the most expensive polishing materials and polish sanders. There are certain products that are just too expensive to not be.

Do your research, as with all things you may use on your vehicle. Look at reviews and avoid anything that has low ratings. You can learn from other people’s mistakes. Take advantage of this opportunity. A hand drill, various sizes and shapes of polishing heads, and a variety of sandpaper options are all you will need.

There are also a lot of polishing creams. We love the Mothers brand, they have high-quality creams and polishing heads to explore.

Not Cleaning The Wheels Properly

We will imagine that your wheels are in the worst possible scenario. They’ve been accidentally rubbed against the curb several times. There is some dirt and muck in the cracks and crevices. There may be a few rust spots. 

These are all fixable. All you have to do is spend some time getting rid of them.

Curb Rash

Sometimes you may find yourself parallel parking. It’s going well and all, but then suddenly, Oops! Your rear wheel might be too close to the curb, and you hear the unforgiving sound of aluminum making against the pavement. If your goal is to make your aluminum wheels look like a mirror, then you need to admit your mistakes and get rid of curb rash. This is easy to do with a little sanding. However, you’ll want to take the time to ensure you get rid of all the traces without being too thorough.


Rust can be a fickle enemy to auto lovers. It can affect almost every part of your vehicle. It shouldn’t take too much effort to clean up your rims. It can be fixed with a little effort.

Rust is a serious problem and repeat offenders on exposed metals. It’s important to take it seriously and to follow these steps. Here’s a solid instruction list for removing rust from your aluminum wheels, you should have just about everything you need if you’ve been shopping to polish your rims. Although you might need to buy a Coke-A-Cola, who is complaining?

Dirt and Muck

Did you know that we didn’t say you could polish your rims using only the hose from the driveway? This part is probably the easiest. It is crucial to remove all dirt, mud, and other debris from your polishing area. You don’t want your wheels to be sanded and then realize that you have been rubbing dirt into them for the past half an hour. This is the most difficult part. You’ll need to take off the wheels of your vehicle in order to reach the center caps and lug nuts.

You should take your wheels off to polish them. Grab a microfiber towel, a hose, and get to work.

Not Enough Time To Polish

Did you notice how important time is to all this? You don’t need to spend a lot of time polishing your wheels, but you shouldn’t rush. It’s going to make a difference in billet rims that shine and billet rims that look a lot better. We know that polishing your wheels can be tedious, but it will make your wheels last a lot longer than if your focus is on just the polishing.

Clean Inside The Lug Holes

Yes, we have mentioned that you can take the wheels off your car at this stage, so don’t be surprised. The inside of the lug holes, which are the points where the bolts pass through the wheels to connect them with the car’s connection point (which we know is true but not obvious to most people) can’t be seen from the road.

However, cleaning out the gunk will ensure that it doesn’t get on your shiny rim.

You would prefer to notice any rust or other problems sooner than later, not to mention the fact that you might be noticing rust and other issues as you clean out holes.

Take Your Time Sanding

Heavy grit. Medium grit. Light grit This order. Knowing how to properly sand is going to make a huge impact on how your rims turn out. While you want to be gentle when sanding your wheels, don’t try to carve any new shapes in the aluminum. You are trying to remove any imperfections and scratches. You will see the results of using heavy grit on your wheels.

Moving on to medium, the light sanding can smoothen any imperfections created with heavy grit papers. You can leave your rims shiny and clean if you take the time to sand each layer.

Wearing Clothes You Like

Although this one won’t affect the outcome of your wheels, it will make you uncomfortable if you don’t have the right clothes for polishing aluminum wheels, You are going to get very dirty. You’re going to get very dirty. Some items might not be easy to wash. It is always good to have several outfits you can use when you are working on your car. Did you know mechanics are always dressed in a jumpsuit?


You should be aware of these things if you plan to do some maintenance or polishing on your rims:

  • Use the right materials
  • Take the time to assess all that you will need.
  • You should address any other issues than dirt.
  • It’s worth it to take the time.
  • Don’t wear something that you don’t care about.

At Wheel Identity we applaud anyone willing to put the time and resources into polishing their aluminum wheels.

While it is not something you will do all the time, a few deep cleanings and polishes every now and again and some frequent maintenance cleanings will keep your rims looking great. Contact us for even more tips and tricks today!