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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There is a lot out there about how to clean, polish, and ultimatley make the OEM SS 20" polished alluminum rims shine like new.

I have done my best to compile a step by step process to get your rims sparkling.

Introduction:

- The rims are called "polished aluminum" but this is misleading, it is important to understand that these rims are clear-coated, so the cleaning and polishing process is more like cleaning/polishing/waxing the exterior surface of a car, rather then metal.

DO NOT use abrasive cleaning/polishing supplies such as "mag and aluminum polish", de-greasers that are corrosive, or any product that specifies that it is NOT safe for clear coat finishes, polished chrome, etc. Be sure to look at the back label of cleaners, they usually state this.



- To adequately clean your rims and tires it is helpful to remove them from your vehicle.

- The full detailing process can take some time and if rushed can compromise results, be sure to set aside a full afternoon to this process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Preface

Before:



We have all been there; rain, mud, brake dust, rust, dirt, salt, sand and everything else that covers are beautiful rims and tries to break down its surface and shine.

For this project you will need:

1. Soap and water. A basic car wash concentrate will work great.
2. Terry cloth towels and polishing towels (optional)

3. A fine scratch/blemish remover safe for all finishes
4. Car wax, preferably a clay bar 3 step system (explained in step 3)
5. A spray on exterior detailer/quickwax (usually specified by the label: "use to increase shine and protection between waxing"
6. A small buffer (optional; can use terry cloth to buff)
7. Chrome cleaner/polishing compound (Used ONLY for chrome lugnuts and air valve caps)

- Follow directions on the label, this concentrate was about $3
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Step 1: Washing

Thouroughly wash every part of the rim and tire with car wash concentrate or simple soap and water.

AVOID corrosive cleaners or cleaners that say "not safe for painted surfaces, rims, etc." these types of cleaners can remove the clear coat finish.

I recommend Meguiars Car Cleaning shampoo/condisioning system, but any cleaner will do!



- Use warm water, rinse, apply soap; scrub with sponge on polished surface and use a brush for the tires and back side.
- It may be necessary to repeat this process to make sure to remove all dirt and soil because this could scratch the rim in the polishing step.
- Using a terry cloth towel, dry well and wipe off every surface changing the spot used on the towel frequently to decrease risk of scratching.
- Allow rim to completely air dry before continuing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Step 2: Scratch/blemish removal

Depending on the age/condition of your rims it is sometimes helpful to use a light scratch and blemish remover. Also good for "spiderwebs", salt buildup, and other minor blemishes.

Use any product that is "clearcoat safe" or "safe for all surfaces".

I recommend meguiars scratch-x 2.0 (about $10)



Follow the directions on the back:
- Use the product on a dry rim.
- Cover the surface lightly and evenly by applying the solution to a terry cloth and distributing.
- Work in evenly changing the used portion of the towel to decrease abrasion. Dirt and residue are often removed during this process so make sure to do this frequently.
- Using a polishing or micro fiber towel, buff the surfaces making sure all product is removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Step 3: Waxing

Due to the nature of the factory rims, the front clear-coated surface is much like a car's painted surface.
- Using the same method, apply wax to the rim and buff it.

- It is sometimes helpful to use a "clay bar" system to do this. I recommend mothers clay bar "paint saving system" (about $20). It has the clay bar, a polishing spray solution, and cleaning wax. Follow the directions specified on the back of the package:



You can use a terrycloth/polishing towel to buff the wax once cured but It is also helpful to use a small buffer (about 6" diameter) I found one at meijer for $15:



- make sure not to apply too much pressure! Be gentle as to not remove the clear coat finish.
- At this point the rims are shining like mirrors! But dont stop there...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Step 4: Final shine

To really make the rims sparkle, use a quick wax spray exterior detailer after waxing.

There are many brands available but I used Meguiars:



- Allow the wax to set before doing this.
- Apply a light misted coat to the rim surface.
- Use a terry cloth to evenly distribute the liquid. Make sure not to allow the product to air dry or it will cause waterspots.
- Use another terry cloth or polishing towel to buff. Dont stop until it is completely dry and smooth.
- Your rims will look fantastic!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Step 5: Tire care

Lets not forget the tires boys!

- begin my using plain water on a towel to remove any product that has gotten on the sidewalls of the tires (mainly wax because its white and causes nasty noticeable residue)
- Allow the tires to dry thoroughly so the shining compound will soak in.
- Use a shine spray product, applying it to the rubber surface. Try not to get it on the rim itself.

- Any "wet look" or "tire shine" product will you but I strongly recommend meguiars "endurance" tire shine system, applied with a sponge instead of haphazard spraying:



I find this product to last longer and not simply look drenched in grease, it actually makes the tires look new and shiny.

-Wipe any shiner that gets on the rims with a towel.

And thats it!! Brand spankin new rims! You cant do it any better... Please feel free to post if you think you know how :raspberry
 

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Nice write-up, what about using an actual wax instead of instant detailer for longer protection? I only use instant detailer for removing bird crap and other contaminants when I dont have a few hours to wash and detail my TB. Cant wait to be staring at my set of those rims here in a few days, oh man oh man...
 

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I did something similar to my wheels this weekend. I used the Mequiars Scratch X stuff then I used their 1-2-3 step system. They turned out really nice. :thumbsup:
 

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^Yes to the OP. There are only a couple of polishes that are specially formulated to clean oxidation from clearcoated wheels. Oxidation that forms on cc wheels are ESPECIALLY difficult to clean, and normal paint cleaners will not address the problem.

To polish cc wheels to a clear (or mirror depending on the wheel's original texture) you should look up polishes such as Blue Magic (my personal favorite that I've used for several years on my custom cc polished wheels), Flitz metal polish (highly effective) and Simachrome polish. Other polishes such as Mother's Billet Polish you should avoid. Typical metal polishes clean by using abrasives, and in time you will destroy the clearcoat surface. If you are in a pinch for the products, my advice would be just to keep the wheel as clean as possible with a mild soap and maybe a meguiars step 1 paint cleaner (non abrasive) until you can find the clearcoat metal polishes.
 
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