How to Clean Car Brakes Without Taking Tires Off: A Guide

June 13, 2024


Maintaining clean and functioning wheels is crucial for your car's overall health and visual appeal. Whether it’s heavy brake dust or road grime, following a methodical approach ensures your wheels remain spotless and shiny.

Essential Tools and Products

Bucket of Water with Dirt Trap

Utilize a bucket of water equipped with a dirt trap to prevent scratching the wheel’s surface during the cleaning process.

"New and clean brakes" by Frans Zwart is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit


Using the right brushes can significantly improve your cleaning results:

  • The Red Rocket: Effective for basic and broader cleaning areas.
  • Boar's Hair Detailing Brush: Ideal for intricate details and hard-to-reach spots.
  • Wheelie Wheel Brush: Known for its softness; perfect for detailed cleaning.
  • Big Blue Stiffy: Best for handling tougher areas and tire blooming.

Cleaning Solutions

  • Diablo Wheel Gel: Serves as a strong lubricant for your brushes.
  • Decon Iron Remover: Efficient at removing iron deposits and preventing corrosion.
  • Total Extract Tire and Rubber Cleaner: Returns tires to their original black state, removing browning and old tire dressing.
  • Galactic Black Wet Look Tire Shine: Provides a final touch, enhancing the luster and shine of the tires.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Initial Rinse

Start by using a high-pressure hose to rinse the wheel face, barrel, and tire lightly to remove loose dirt and grime.

Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Fill a wash bucket with water and Diablo Wheel Gel. Stir or shake the solution to foam it up effectively.

Apply Iron Remover

Spray Decon Iron Remover generously onto the wheel surface. Wait for the product to bleed purple, which signifies it’s reacting with iron deposits.

Clean with Brushes

Wheelie Wheel Brush: Use for larger parts of the wheel.

Boar's Hair Detailing Brush: Employ for intricate areas like lug nuts and valve stems.

The Red Rocket: Utilize for the barrel and harder-to-reach spots.

Rinse and re-activate your brushes regularly in the wash bucket for continued effectiveness.

Address Tire Blooming

Spray Total Extract Tire and Rubber Cleaner directly onto the tire and scrub with Big Blue Stiffy brush to remove browning and residues.

Final Rinse and Dry

Rinse the entire wheel and tire thoroughly to remove all cleaning products. Dry the wheel and tire completely to prevent water spots and prepare for tire shine application.

Apply Tire Shine

Use Galactic Black Wet Look Tire Shine with either a foam or microfiber applicator. Apply multiple layers for particularly dry and neglected tires, ensuring complete coverage and a deep shine.

The tire shine is oil-based but will dry to the touch, preventing run-off and splatter.

Maintenance Tips

Regular cleaning prevents the heavy build-up of brake dust and grime, ensuring your wheels remain in top condition and free of damage.

Utilize appropriate products for different parts of the wheel to enhance their effectiveness and protect the materials.

By following this comprehensive cleaning guide, you can maintain your car wheels in pristine condition, ensuring they look great and function optimally.


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