Today is a day when you will learn how to clean brake dust from the wheels of your car. This is a serious issue that has countless side effects. First of all, it will make your wheels look old and dirty. The situation is even worse if you have silver paint on the wheels. Then we can see that brake dust can damage the paint and the metal beneath it permanently. The fix is expensive, and you will have to remove the tire and wheel to sort this out. Luckily you can remove brake dust and prevent it from happening again using this simple guide.
What Causes Brake Dust?
The first question you may have is what brake dust is? In order to properly learn how to clean brake dust, you need to know why this issue occurs in the first place. Cars use rotors and brake pads to stop. When you press a brake pedal, pistons inside the calipers will push the brake pads against the rotors, causing friction and stop your car. Brake pads are designed for this purpose, and they use softer materials than rotors. For instance, some brake pads use brass, iron, and similar metals which won’t damage the rotor.
That friction causes brake pads to deteriorate and to lose a thin layer of material with each braking. That layer is tightly pressed between the rotor and the brake pads, and it will literally turn into dust. This is a common issue with low-end cheap brake pads.
Most of the dust consists of iron, 90% actually. The rest is carbon which is a by-product of the process. Add heat, and you can see why brake dust sticks to the wheels and why it is so hard to remove. Using a cloth and water is ineffective in this case scenario. Brake dust cleaner, on the other hand, is a far more effective and desirable method.
How to Clean Brake Dust (Step By Step)
Things you will need:
- Wheel cleaner
- A piece of cloth
- Wheel Brush
- Pressure washer
- Clay bar
- Car wax
Now is the time to start explaining How to clean brake dust off rotors and wheels. This is a simple task that requires basic tools as you were able to see and your time. Nothing else is needed so you can tackle this process in your garage. Also, some of you may have heard that an Oven cleaner for brake dust can be used. This is partially true. You will get some effects, but they won’t be as great as you may have hoped. Using the ingredients from the list above is a much safer option. Anyway, you will need to follow the steps mentioned below.
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Let the Car Cool Down
The first step in how to clean the brake dust guide is the most obvious. You need to let the car and the brakes cool down. If you start when the rotors and brakes are hot, you will cause a fast shrinking of the metals which can cause cracks in the metal itself. This simply means that your brakes will be damaged and they might fail completely while driving! You should begin with the process once you can hold your hand on the wheel without burning the skin.
Use Pressure Washer to Spray the Wheels
This step is basic, as well. You will have to spray the wheels using the pressure washer to remove as much dust as possible in the shortest period of time. By doing this, you will literally make the entire process easier. If you don’t have a pressure washer, rent one. You can also purchase a new unit for as low as $50. If this isn’t an option, you can use hose and water. This is slightly more annoying due to the fact if you won’t use pressure and you will be left with more dust to remove in the next steps.
Spray the Wheel Cleaner Solution
Spray your wheel cleaner into the wheels and let it stay there for 5-10 minutes. This solution is designed to remove the hardest stains and debris from the wheels without damaging the paint, tires, or valves. The key element is to spray all the parts of the wheels but focus on the areas where the dust is most present. You can see how the cleaner will work and how it will start removing the dust and other debris. Once the time has passed, you can move to the next step.
Use wheel brush
Now you will have to get your hands dirty. Don’t worry; this is a simple step. Using the brush rub the wheel cleaner onto the wheels and focus your attention on the dust areas. Rub as much as you can for 10 minutes per wheel. Eventually, you will notice that the dust will start breaking off and will be removed from the wheels. When needed spray the wheel cleaner again and use the brush once more.
There are a lot of wheel brushes available on the market, and all of them will get the job done. However, cone-shaped models work the best. They allow you to reach all the areas of the wheels and to remove the dust easily within seconds. Make sure to wash and clean the brush once you are done. By doing this, you will be able to use it more than just once, and you won’t have to waste any money on a new wheel brush the next time you want to clean your wheels.
Use pressure washer again
In this step, you will have to use the pressure washer again and to remove the mixture of brake dust, grime, dust, and wheel cleaner you used. You will see that in most cases, this is extremely difficult to use so you should move the pressure washer slowly and apply the full level of attention to each wheel. Make sure to apply the water to all the areas and especially on the ones that are still covered with brake dust.
Use car clay to clean the wheels from the toughest stains
In this step, you will need to use the car clay we mentioned above. Simply break a small piece, place it between your fingers and start scraping the grime, dust, and dirt from the wheels. This is helpful due to the fact clay can remove all kinds of stains within minutes. You will see a massive difference, and you will be able to get the finished result that is spotless. Keep in mind to make slow moves and to make sure all the stains are removed completely. It will take between 10 and 20 minutes per wheel to complete this step. Once done, move to the next one.
Wipe the wheels
This step is actually used to prepare the wheels for the eighth step. You need to use a dry cloth to make your wheels perfectly dry. It is advised to leave them for some time after you are done just to make sure they are completely dry. You will have to replace the cloth a few times just to get the desired end result.
Apply the car wax
The last step is the most rewarding. You will see how the wheels shine again, and you will be more than just happy. Once the wheels are completely dry, use the car wax and a dry towel to apply it to the wheels. Make sure to follow the exact steps provided by the manufacturer. Most products of this kind are straightforward to use, but some require special skills and additional tools. Apply the wax to all 4 wheels, and you can see how perfect they will look.
Applying the wax isn’t a mandatory step, but it is more than just desirable. First and foremost the wheels will be better protected from the brake dust and other dirt. Then we can see that they will maintain a shine for a longer period of time and they will make your car look much better. Once you complete this step, you are done.
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How to prevent brake dust
Sadly, there is no single way or method you can use to prevent brake dust from happening and affecting your wheels. On the other hand, we can see that Excessive brake dust on one wheel or all wheels can be significantly decreased and eliminated using different methods. Below are all the best methods you should try.
You will need:
- Best brake dust repellent
- Brake dust shields
- Aftermarket brake pads
Replace the Brake Pads with Aftermarket Units
This is the best, and the first thing you should do is brake dust annoys you. Ordinary brake pads are too soft, and they will turn layers of the material into dust within days. By replacing the units with aftermarket brake pads, you will literally eliminate the risk of brake dust occurring again. Look for brake pads that come with Kevlar, carbon fiber and synthetics. These materials will also increase the stopping power of any car, but they won’t turn into dust so you won’t have to worry about brake dust anymore. Ideally, you would get ceramic brake pads. They also don’t cause brake dust, but they can withstand massive temperatures and stop your car sooner than any other type of brake pads.
Install Brake Dust Shields
This is an optional extra you can install on your car for $100 or less. A pair of shields is usually around $50 and can be installed within minutes. You will have to lift the car, remove a wheel, and install a shield. One shield is installed on one brake caliper.
These additions are installed inside a wheel between the rotors, and they will prevent brake dust from falling on the wheels and staying there. Keep in mind that they won’t prevent brake dust from occurring. It will still be produced, and it will fall under your car, but it won’t affect your wheels.
This is one of the most rewarding methods you can use. When paired with the first step, you won’t have to worry about brake dust ever again, and your wheels will look like new for a long period of time. It is important to add that you can customize them additionally. You can literally paint them in any color you like or in black and make them invisible. Some units are also made to make your car look better and sporty.
Use Brake Dust Repellent
Products like Hydrosilex are known as brake dust repellents. They allow you to make the surface of the wheel much smoother and slipper due to the fact they contain silica soap. When this happens, the dust will still fall on the wheels, but it will slip away and it will fall on the ground. You won’t have to worry about any type of dust or grime.
We liked this method also because it can help your car look so much better and the wheels will shine again. All you have to do is to apply the silica soap a few times per month and you are done. There are all kinds of products of this kind on the market so you can always find the one that works best for you. They are also very affordable and one package can last for a long period of time.
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The final word
Now you know how to clean brake dust and how to prevent it from happening again. Use the guides explained above whenever you want and make sure to find the one that works best for your wheels. All the steps we have explained are safe for the wheels, tires, valves, and brakes in general. Once you have removed all the dust, be free to apply the methods for preventing it from happening. This is a simple and affordable process that will help you have perfectly clean wheels at all times and also make sure the entire car looks better.