Wheels: Protecting Aluminum Wheels


 Protecting Aluminum Wheels 

by Shelly Floyd 

Everyone wants their motorhome to boast gleaming aluminum wheels, but few enjoy the elbow grease that goes into maintaining such gloss. If you would like to spiff up those rims without the need for a lot of wax and polish, take a look at adding the low-maintenance protective coating surface of Accu-Shield. 

“Low Maintenance” doesn’t mean “Maintenance Free,” and there are still some tasks to be performed when it comes to the upkeep of Accu-Shield coated aluminum wheels. The good news is that the labor is minimal. In fact, it’s pretty much limited to nothing more than wash and dry. 

Because the motorhome tires travel so near to the road surface, and all the gravel, mud, and salt that implies, it won’t take a fortuneteller to predict that regardless of where you travel, cleaning is going to be a regular part of future upkeep. Familiarity with exterior care is particularly important when it comes to the aluminum rims to prevent dirt and debris from gaining a foothold that will break down clear coat protection over time. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is by washing the rims whenever you notice a build-up of grease or grime, or as soon as possible after the wheels have come in contact with corrosive materials such as sand or salt. 

Being in and out of assorted RV parks and campgrounds will usually expose the motorhome to a variety of water sources, some containing minerals that are detrimental to a clear coat surface. Check the local water supply. If the water smells bad, contains particles of dirt or rust, or leaves a murky film, do not wash the coated aluminum wheels using that source. 

There are some cleaning methods to avoid when it comes to removing grime and grease from the coated aluminum wheels. Truck stops and large vehicle wash bays are not a reliable method. Many of these commercial establishments use a harsh and abrasive soap solution designed to hasten the removal of dirt and grime that works so efficiently it also breaks down clear coat surfaces. 

Another cleaning technique to steer clear of is wiping away dust and dirt without using water. What usually happens when you try this is that scratches appear in the clear coat protection from grit and dirt that was trapped in the cloth. 

When you are ready to clean the aluminum wheels, first position the wheels away from direct sunlight. Start cleaning by rinsing off the surface to remove loose dirt and rocks. Don’t be shy about applying water pressure to completely remove all the particles so that nothing is left to scratch the surface during the wash procedure. Once all the fragments are removed, use a soft cloth and mild soap solution to gently wash the aluminum wheel. When all the grease and grime is detached, wash away the residue with clear water. 

To prevent water spots, dry the Accu-Shield aluminum wheel with a soft, 100% cotton cloth. If spotting occurs, don’t try to remove the stains with stiff brushes or harsh abrasives that can scratch the clear coat. Your best bet to eliminate water spots is with a clean, dry buffing pad, or for lug nuts, a specially designed buffing wheel. Stubborn stains, such as tar, can usually be eliminated with bug and tar remover designated safe for the protective coating on the wheel surface. Test the product in a small area to insure its suitability before administering the full application. 

Once the aluminum wheels are clean you should take a moment to examine the surface for signs of wear and tear. Any deep scratches or gouges, dents and cracks should be promptly inspected and repaired by a qualified technician to insure continued integrity of the wheel. 

Aluminum wheels are not installed on the inside duals so you won’t have to worry about crawling around under the chassis to wash and dry the wheel surface. If the tires are going to be rotated, and the wheels switched, caution the service technician to use care and caution when handling the wheels. The coating on the aluminum surface should be protected against damage when the wheels are being handled. Tools specifically designed for aluminum wheels can be employed to help further protect the Accu-Shield aluminum wheels against scratches and dents. Detailed information on repairs to the aluminum finish, along with replacement parts and repair kits are available through DynaBrade Inc., at (888) 396-2272. 

When the RV is in storage, cover the wheels to protect the aluminum rims against outdoor elements and exposure to stray animals. During long-term storage, regularly inspect under the cover to make sure the wheels are free of condensation. Before taking the motorhome back out on the road, thoroughly clean the aluminum wheels and remove any debris that may have become trapped in the wheel wells. 

To check if you already have the Accu-Shield aluminum wheels look for the sticker that is attached to both sides of the wheel at the time of installation. This low-maintenance/high-appearance feature can be added as an aftermarket item on select RV models. 

Coated aluminum wheels won’t make your motorhome drive faster or better, but with minimal time devoted to spit and polish, Accu-Shield wheels will add some ‘bling’ that makes your RV the envy of the crowd.