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Old 04-04-2018, 05:23 PM   #1
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Best Way to Clean Alcoa Wheels?

Once again, my Search skills failed miserably and I was unable to find the information I need.

In order to properly clean (meaning also to not damage) the Alcoa wheels on my '2012 Avenue, I need to know if they are clear-coated. I found big name brand wheel cleaners. Some specify for clear-coated aluminum, and one for bare aluminum.

My guess is my wheels are coated since they look uniformly good and have little to no brake dust buildup. But the RV was detailed before my recent purchase and I've put less than 500 miles on it since my ownership. Therefore, my knowledge of their history or any past polishing in nil.

One followup question, since my wheels aren't very dirty (and I may only need soap & water to clean them), what should I polish them with? And once again, would the best polish depend on whether they are clear-coated or whether they are bare aluminum?

Thanks, Roy
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:41 PM   #2
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X2 on simple soap and water.
Im still using old fashioned turtle wax, zip wax.
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:56 PM   #3
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I would bet they are clear coated if you have no white corrosion or pitting. Our 2011 AI's Alcoa wheels have lots of corrosion/pitting covered up by brake dust. I have polished them twice since we bought it a few years ago with Mothers speedball and polish and they looked great for a month or two. In my opinion the 4 hours I spent each time was a poor return on the investment. Now I just clean the brake dust off when I wash the bus.
Bottom line...go with the car wash soap and water for now and enjoy the shine while it lasts.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:08 PM   #4
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Another one here using just soap and water...carwash soap...
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:10 PM   #5
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Thanks, everyone. The wheel picture was from the dealers lot when the RV was freshly detailed. In my 5 months of ownership, I have not touched the wheels (but haven't driven it that much, either) and from what y'all have just told me, they look too good to be bare polished aluminum. So I'll wash with mild soap to preserve the clear coat and leave it at that.

On the travel front, our beloved 14 yr. old standard poodle passed two weeks ago. At 80 lbs. in his prime, his recent health prevented us from taking him with us, and we couldn't leave him at home, so we didn't travel. That changes next week when we take our first shake-down trip to the Texas Hill County and Garner State park for a few days. Our other standard poodle who is almost 11 yrs. old and nearly 80 lbs. is still pretty spry and will make the trip with us. This Summer, we hit the road out West for a month (maybe more).

From other threads I've read, it seems those traveling with pets wouldn't have it any other way. I hope my wife and I come to the same conclusion.

This was the dogs together in the snow that fell last December 8th.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:23 PM   #6
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+1 on carwash soap & water. I have dealt with cleaning all sorts of aluminum, steel, chrome, polished, anodized, non-anodized, & painted wheels from many different eras since the 70's, foreign & domestic. If/when I take the time to clean my car(s), I make it a point to clean the wheels perfectly & spotless clean. I figure I will do it right or not at all. In all these years, my best practice is to just clean them cold (usually if they've sat overnight), not warm, and definitely not when the tires, wheels, and brake dust are still hot from driving. I am not sure why, but it seems brake dust is very sticky when hot & gets wet. From this experience, I try to clean off all the muck from wheels (as soon as I can) if I have driven in rain.

The only time I have had to use a little bit aggressive cleaner (Simple Green) was when I fell behind cleaning my wife's van. It had polished aluminum (looks almost like chrome) clear coated rims. Had to use full strength to remove the very stubborn brake dust in the small areas & cavities. Not a simple wheel to clean, even in ideal conditions. But the Alcoa's in our AI's are such a simple design that, unless you just neglect it for a long, long time, I really see no reason to clean it with anything but carwash soap & water.

PS, Just did my Alcoa's yesterday. Wish all my other wheels were as easy to clean.
Also, very sorry to hear of beloved poodles passing. My golden doodle is getting up in age too.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:30 AM   #7
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Cleaning Wheels

Maybe not the best way, but our wheels were REALLY BAD from salt & grime, stray dogs, etc. The operative words are REALLY BAD. We used Mr. Clean Magic Sponges - then polished them. It sure helped to get them looking new again.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rowiebowie View Post
Thanks, everyone. The wheel picture was from the dealers lot when the RV was freshly detailed. In my 5 months of ownership, I have not touched the wheels (but haven't driven it that much, either) and from what y'all have just told me, they look too good to be bare polished aluminum. So I'll wash with mild soap to preserve the clear coat and leave it at that.

On the travel front, our beloved 14 yr. old standard poodle passed two weeks ago. At 80 lbs. in his prime, his recent health prevented us from taking him with us, and we couldn't leave him at home, so we didn't travel. That changes next week when we take our first shake-down trip to the Texas Hill County and Garner State park for a few days. Our other standard poodle who is almost 11 yrs. old and nearly 80 lbs. is still pretty spry and will make the trip with us. This Summer, we hit the road out West for a month (maybe more).

From other threads I've read, it seems those traveling with pets wouldn't have it any other way. I hope my wife and I come to the same conclusion.

This was the dogs together in the snow that fell last December 8th.
Sorry for your loss . Our furry friends are like family and surely will be missed . Glad you still have a traveling companion for your upcoming trip . Pat
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:57 AM   #9
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Use "Mothers" speedball and brighten them up, wipe them down with acetone, then clear-coat them yourself with rattle-can clearcoat available at most paint sellers. Then you'll use only soap/water.
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Old 04-05-2018, 11:38 AM   #10
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Yep they are clear coated from the factory... but it seems to fade after a while...

Best stuff I have found is the same stuff they use on the aircraft... its called MET-ALL. It cleans and polishes... as well as it has a protective coating it leaves. Makes it mirror finish and is cheap.. better than mothers or the other stuff...

We use it all the time on aircraft.. and if it works for them.. should work for AS
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Old 04-05-2018, 02:18 PM   #11
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Cleaning Wheels

If a lot of brake dust, I use a Mothers Ball and Polish. Then preserve with Rain-X
Makes the brake dust a lot easier to wash off.
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Old 04-05-2018, 04:45 PM   #12
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If the stamped P/N has DB at the end of it, then they are DuraBright which is an Alcoa treatment that prevents oxidation. If it doesn't have DB, then they are bare, polished aluminum. I used Mother's Aluminum polish and a Meguiar's sponge polishing cone. Had to use a cloth for the tight areas and inside the openings. Never found anything that would remove the water spot etching from the previous owner though. Probably a more aggressive polishing compound would have done it but they weren't very noticeable.

The brake dust is very detrimental to the bare aluminum and should be removed as soon as possible. I used a damp paper towel at the end of each day to wipe it off. Don't know if that's required on the DuraBright wheels. I think Airstream started using them around 2013. You can check by using a cloth and polish. If it turns black, the wheel is not DuraBright.
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Old 04-05-2018, 07:08 PM   #13
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If the stamped P/N has DB at the end of it, then they are DuraBright which is an Alcoa treatment that prevents oxidation.
I checked brochures for 2016, 2017, 2018 and it states they are Alcoa DuraBright's. Not sure about earlier years, I dont have those docs. They have 3 levels - standard/original DuraBright, DuraBright XBR, and their latest, most durable DuraBright EVO. I think the DuraBright Sprinter line is just the standard one. Reason I say this is the others seems to be advertised for commercial applications only (19.5, 22.5) and the .pdf for Alcoa 3500 Sprinter line does not show XBR or EVO, just DB for optional finishes.
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Old 04-05-2018, 11:23 PM   #14
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According to my brochure library, the DuraBright wheels started on the 2014.5 models.
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Old 04-06-2018, 12:08 AM   #15
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You may find that using Iron-X as the easiest method for a good cleaning without harming either coated or uncoated rims. Spray on, lightly agitate with soft bristle brush, and wash off.

https://www.carpro-us.com/deep-clean...-x-500ml-17oz/
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Old 04-06-2018, 01:14 AM   #16
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I blow the wheels off by running them at 65 mph.
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Old 04-06-2018, 08:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GM Airstream View Post
Yep they are clear coated from the factory... but it seems to fade after a while...

Best stuff I have found is the same stuff they use on the aircraft... its called MET-ALL. It cleans and polishes... as well as it has a protective coating it leaves. Makes it mirror finish and is cheap.. better than mothers or the other stuff...

We use it all the time on aircraft.. and if it works for them.. should work for AS
Curious! Would this product work well to clean the exterior of my '73?
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:45 AM   #18
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road salt is the biggest enemy of the wheels. If your not in states using salt for roads, just use water and dove soap and sponge, not a harsh cleaner or stiff brush. Also you can check with manufacturer for cleaning instructions. also can google for cleaning instructions.
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Old 04-06-2018, 11:13 AM   #19
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I decided to check my wheels - lo & behold they are DuraBright EVO's front & outside rears. What a surprise The Alcoa docs did not even show the EVO's on their Sprinter line 16" wheels. I have a 2018 AI and I think the EVO's came out 2015. So maybe prior model years may have the EVO's too ??
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Old 04-06-2018, 01:42 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex AVI View Post
I decided to check my wheels - lo & behold they are DuraBright EVO's front & outside rears. What a surprise The Alcoa docs did not even show the EVO's on their Sprinter line 16" wheels. I have a 2018 AI and I think the EVO's came out 2015. So maybe prior model years may have the EVO's too ??
Attachment 307974
What Alcoa document were you looking at? Their web site sell sheet clearly says they have various DuraBright options for Sprinter wheels. Here is link for reference.

https://www.arconic.com/alcoawheels/..._sellsheet.pdf
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