How to Remove Oxidation From Aluminum Wheels

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Wheel oxidation occurs when the surface of the wheel is constantly exposed to air and moisture. If the wheel is not protected or the surface (paint, clear coat, etc.) that is there to protect it fades away, the aluminum will become dull and flat. Oxidation can be difficult to remove, even with store bought cleaners and liberal and aggressive use of steel wool. One method that does work to remove oxidation is the use of oven cleaner, which will allow you to get the surface of the wheels to the point where they can be refinished. Keep in mind that using a chemical as strong as oven cleaner may require that the wheel be repolished or repainted.

Things You'll Need

  • Oven cleaner
  • Large and small rags
  • Wire brushes
  • Masking tape
  • Water and hose
  • Aluminum wheel polish
  • Rubber gloves

Remove the wheels from the vehicle. Rinse the wheels with a hose and dry them thoroughly with a rag. Mask off any areas on the wheel where you do not want to apply oven cleaner, including the center cap.

Put on rubber gloves. Spray on several coats of the oven cleaner to the areas of the wheel that are oxidized. Wipe any excess off the tires right away. Let the cleaner soak in for 10 to 15 minutes.

Scrub the wheel with a wire brush when you begin to see the oxidation bubbling. Scrub until the oxidation is removed. Rinse the wheel thoroughly with the hose, ensuring that all the cleaner is removed.

Buff the wheel with the wheel polish. Apply a thin layer and let it dry. Buff the polish off the wheel with a clean, dry rag. Reinstall the wheels on the car.

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