Properly detailing your wheels (rims) will not only drastically improve your car's appearance, it will protect your wheels from getting ruined by the elements. Damage to your wheels is the result of improperly maintained wheels. Road salt and brake dust that sits on an unprotected wheel will eventually lead to the corrosion of metals, pitting of paint, peeling of paint and discoloration. A properly maintained and protected wheel will dramatically prolong the life of these materials.
Although the majority of wheel cleaners are safe for all finishes, verify that the type of wheel cleaner you choose will not damage your wheel's surface. Some wheel cleaners are meant for painted/coated wheels and some are aimed at bare metal.
Because your wheels are likely the dirtiest part of your vehicle, it is wise to start a complete vehicle wash with the wheels. This prevents splattering of the wheel's chemicals and grime from coming in contact with your paint. Never use the same brushes or buckets on your vehicle's paint as you do for you wheels.
Here's where it all starts! Salt and brake dust are everywhere and this unprotected wheel will live a short life before it looks old and corroded.
Start by rinsing the wheel to remove all loose particles.
Spray the wheel using your selected wheel cleaner. In this example I use P21S Gel Wheel Cleaner which is safe for all finishes.
Using a brush specifically designed for use on wheels and tires (11" Stiff Wheel Brush or EZ Detail Brush) scrub entire wheel. Cleaning old dressings and embedded dirt from tires is an important overlooked step. Browning of tires is mainly caused by deteriorated tire dressings that have not been properly removed prior to applying another coat.
Rinse entire wheel/tire assembly.
Now the rim is properly cleaned and ready to dry. Use a drying cloth that will not scratch the surface of your wheel. (Mini Dehydrator)
To further protect the wheel from damage due to UV, corrosion, salt and other harsh contaminants, apply a wheel sealant or permanent coating. In this example we use Poorboy's Wheel Sealant.
The final step is to apply your favourite tire dressing. Then you would apply Poorboy's Bold N Bright Tire Dressing with an applicator.
Repeat the same process for all four wheels.