Maintaining your American Racing Wheels

As you may know, American Racing and it's family of brands manufactures wheels in a variety of finishes including but not limited to powder coated paints, clear coatings, chrome, steel and even Telfon®.

When it comes to care, maintenance and compatibility with your driving style, local road hazards and weather conditions, there are important differences between types of wheel finishes. A trip to your local wheel Dealer to review and understand various wheel surface finishes is recommended to be certain that the wheels you select will be compatible with your vehicle, driving habits, car care practices, weather, and road hazards. If you are wondering how much time will be required to care for your wheels, the answer has a lot to do with how they are maintained. Your local climate and road maintenance can affect the care required and life span of a wheel finish. For harsher climates, American Racing suggests that you retain your original equipment wheels for optional use as wintertime equipment.

The first rule in caring for any automotive wheels regardless of finish is to keep them clean. Generally speaking, from week to week during your car wash cycle, it’s best to clean them with a soft brush, soap and/or mild degreaser or quality spray-on Wheel Cleaner. For best results, it is important to keep wheels clean, not allowing road film, contaminants and brake dust (which retain moisture) to accumulate and sit on the surface. If you live in a harsh winter climate where salt and chemicals are used during the winter, regular cleaning is even more important. Be careful in selecting wheel cleaning products—select products that are safe for the finish of your wheels. Avoid harsh or abrasive cleaners. Some cleaners are harsh and could damage your wheel finish. Also be aware that many car washes use strong chemicals to clean wheels and tires that could cause damage to your wheel finish or even your automotive paint. NEVER CLEAN HOT WHEELS, allow wheels to cool or cool them with running water. Another important step is to seal your wheels with a sealant that will reduce static and resist brake dust, such as American Racing Wheel Wax.

Protect your investment, clean your wheels regularly.

Your American Racing aftermarket wheels were manufactured in one of four finishes:

* a. Chrome (applied to either aluminum alloy or steel).
* b. Polished Aluminum Alloy (no protective coating).
* c. Clear coated and/or Painted.
* d. Permanently coated with Teflon®.

To better understand the specific care and maintenance of your wheels, determine which finish applies to your wheels from the list above. After determining what finish applies to your wheels, go to the section below for suggestions and instructions for the detailing, care, and maintenance of your American Racing wheels.

Chrome Wheels

Aluminum or steel wheels plated with chrome are beautiful and can significantly change the appearance of your car or truck by attracting light to base areas of your vehicle. If maintained, the chrome finish will produce a brilliant shine. To reflect light, which produces the attractive brilliant finish, the wheels must be cleaned regularly. It’s best to clean them with a soft brush, soap and/or mild degreaser or quality spray-on Wheel Cleaner. Rinse thoroughly. After cleaning your wheels do not allow soap, chemicals or water to sit on the surface and produce water spots—dry your wheels with a soft, non-abrasive towel. As stated above, it is important to keep wheels clean, not allowing road film, contaminants and brake dust (which retain moisture) to accumulate and sit on the surface. If you live in a harsh winter climate where salt and chemicals are used during the winter, regular cleaning is even more important. Periodically, polish chrome wheels with American Racing Chrome-Tech, or some other quality non-abrasive chrome polish. For best results and to reduce cleaning efforts in the future, after polishing and/or cleaning, apply American Racing Wheel Wax to seal the surface—this should help avoid problems in the future and will reduce static so that your wheels are more resistant to brake dust. The products mentioned above are available at E-Shop at

Polished Aluminum Wheels

Polished aluminum wheels are very popular, particularly with racing, off-road and hot rod enthusiasts, and we sell thousands of them each year, however, they do require more periodic maintenance than other finishes, depending upon the climate, road conditions and your vehicle car care practices in general. Polished aluminum alloy wheels require the highest degree of maintenance and a certain amount of oxidation is to be expected as the wheels naturally oxidize with age. Polished wheels can be re-polished commercially or by hand after many years of use, effectively restoring them to an almost factory original condition.

When new, coat your polished wheels with a quality, hand-applied sealant product such as American Racing Wheel Wax. This coating will assist in preventative maintenance by resisting brake dust and other contaminants. When your polished aluminum wheels begin to lose their shine or are dirty with road film or brake dust, begin by cleaning them as instructed above. If you use a brush, be careful to avoid scratching the uncoated, polished aluminum alloy by using only a SOFT brush. Follow up by polishing them by hand with American Racing Metal Polish, or another quality metal or wheel polish. After polishing, coat them with American Racing Wheel Wax according to instructions. If they are in bad condition, this will take some time, and polishing wheels is never an easy task.

For faster and perhaps easier results, use the American Racing Air-Compressor Powered Polisher or a Dremmel-type tool mini-polisher, with the correct polishing mini-pads. Just swab on American Racing Metal Polish, then buff them with the polishing tool. Mini power tool polishers will clean up and polish your wheels quickly, saving time and producing a brilliant shine.

If your wheels have deeply imbedded brake dust, animal urine or other contaminants from lack of maintenance, you can try an aggressive spray-on wheel cleaner (be careful, some contain acid) with a brush, BUT DO NOT ALLOW IT TO SIT ON THE SURFACE AND ETCH THE POLISH SURFACE. Rinse your wheels thoroughly and dry with soft, non-abrasive cloth.

We receive many inquiries about clear coating or chrome plating polished aluminum wheels, as a maintenance option. If you are interested in applying a permanent protective coating to your polished aluminum alloy wheels, you may wish to consider taking the wheels to a local wheel reconditioning or chrome plating firm in your area. This service involves professionally polishing and applying a liquid or powder coat acrylic or polyester clear coat or chrome plating the wheels. Services of this type can be found under "wheel reconditioning" or "chrome plating" in the Yellow Pages or on the worldwide web.

Polished wheels look great, but do require regular maintenance.

Clear Coated Wheels

American Racing manufactures many styles that are permanently coated with a clear protective coating, essentially a non-pigmented, clear paint. The clear coating that we use is the same material that we use for the original equipment wheels we manufacture for leading automobile manufacturers. Your clear-coated wheels should require only soap or a quality Wheel Cleaner product, water and a soft brush. Once you have cleaned your clear coated wheels, a coat of hand-applied American Racing Wheel Wax or a quality, non-carnauba, non-abrasive polymer sealant-quality wax will enhance resistance to brake dust and contaminants. Wheel Wax works well and will save you time in the future.

Wheels Coated with Teflon®

Some styles manufactured by American Racing are permanently coated with Teflon®. The Teflon® coating is a permanent, baked-on industrial finish of Teflon®--two years in development through our motorsports program. The purpose of this program is to enhance wheel resistance to the elements and facilitate ease of cleaning. It is very durable and easy to clean, if maintained properly. This protective coating should assist significantly in reducing maintenance requirements and brake dust problems. Essentially, for the care and cleaning of wheels coated with Teflon® you should follow the same basic cleaning steps used for clear-coated wheels described above. Again, the key is to clean your wheels regularly as discussed above. Your Teflon®-coated wheels should require only soap or a quality Wheel Cleaner product, water and a soft brush. The surface coated with DuPont Teflon® will release brake dust, road film and contamination easily. DO NOT USE ABRASIVES OR ACIDS ON WHEELS COATED WITH DuPONT TEFLON®. NEVER CLEAN HOT WHEELS—allow to cool or cool with running water prior to cleaning. If you allow brake dust and road film to build up, you may need to use a safe but more aggressive spray-on wheel cleaner or mild degreaser with a brush.

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