Polishing & Enhancing Chrome and Stainless-Steel Wire Wheels

Why do we need to clean, correct, and protect Chrome Wire Wheels?

Unquestionably, “Chrome Wire Wheels” enrich the look of a classic car, especially sports cars and sporting saloons. Many of us cringe at the thought of cleaning them, let alone polishing*1 and enhancing them. Undeniably, few would argue that a correctly prepared and enhanced wheel substantially lifts the overall presentation of the vehicle. Detailed below is our process for achieving the best result. The same process may be used when cleaning and protecting Stainless Steel Wheels and chrome and stainless steel in general.

What do I need to polish a Chrome Wire Wheel?  Refer Photo 1

E-Valence Chrome and Metal Polish *2,

  • SIFA or equivalent Super Fine Steel Wool.
  • Wheel Stand. Not essential, though it’s very handy. Shop online for second-hand.
  • A bright Torch or detailing light.
  • Electric toothbrush with a selection of children’s heads. (A smaller fitting which will enable you to get around the base of the spoke).
  • Medium toothbrush (modified with a grinder to fit behind the spokes) to enable you to apply soft pressure in those hard-to-access areas.
  • Thin stem toothbrush or flexible plastic rod to assist in the pushing of the microfibre cloth through the spokes in confined areas.
  • Three 270 – 330 GSM Microfibre Cloths. *3
  • One Microfibre Cloth cut into 2 strips, one third and two thirds.
  • Modified buds, created by attaching flannelette to disposable Lip Applicators.
  • Prepared strips of Steel Wool.

Step 1

What is the best wash process?
Start by washing the vehicle in the usual manner. Refer to the E-Valence post The Car Wash Process available for download on our website. Go to www.e-valence.com.au/car-wash-process/
Wheel cleaners may be used however ensure they are pH Neutral and not heavily caustic. E-Valence pH Neutral Alloy & Wire Wheel Cleaner is the perfect choice as it is a soft balance of surfactants which will clean and leave a protective coating on the surface of the rim and spokes of your Chrome Wire Wheels.
Gently rinse the wire wheel with a hose spray. Jet washing wire wheels is not recommended. Jet washes can push chemical up through the spoke nipples leaving caustic chemical in the rim resulting in corrosion over time.
Dry the wheels with a Luxury Drying Towel and you are ready to proceed.

Step 2

What is the most effective way to remove surface rust and industrial contaminant from chrome?
The most effective way to do this is with the prepared strips of superfine steel wool.
– Start with the front and rear surfaces of the outer rim. Rub the steel wool backwards and forwards along the surface till the marks have been cleared away. Refer photo 3. If they have not gone after 30 Seconds of rubbing, then they probably won’t be removable. Don’t over rub the area as the purpose of the steel wool is to “nip off the contaminant”, not to reduce the thin coating of chrome. *4 Similar respect should be shown to Stainless Steel wheels.
Then address the slightly less accessible areas such as the front of the hub. Access from the rear and wipe around the hub several times.
Working on the front of the hub from behind. Refer Photo 4.

Note the use of the lip applicator for reaching those confined areas.
– Again, from the rear, by hand use the steel wool to correct those areas accessible on the outer rim (the one the tyre goes on).

Step 3

Finally, from the front correct any other areas that are accessible with your fingers.
Before proceeding to the next stage, give the entire wire wheel a spray with Chrome & Metal Polish and wipe clean.
Continue removing contaminants with the steel wool using the toothbrush, and other buds till the process is completed.
Below are several photos that may assist in the designing of your buds. Note the stainless strip laid out between the spokes and the rim. A flexible toothbrush will greatly assist in carrying out this phase of the process.
Steel wool laid out within the rim working with a flexible toothbrush. Refer Photo 5.

Step 4

What is the best way to protect chrome wire wheels?

The final process is the application of E-Valence Chrome & Metal Polish. Formulated to rejuvenate and protect the chrome, it will bring out a deep rich streak-free shine whilst leaving a protective coating. This coating will greatly reduce tarnishing and the effect of dust mites over time. The later being of major importance if the vehicle is in storage. Equally this protection is very effective for vehicles in constant use. Also should be applied to Stainless Steel wheels.
– Spray all areas of the wheel back and front.
– Using two 270-330 GSM microfibre cloths thoroughly clean the hub and the rim and spokes pushing and rubbing the cloth in between the spokes with your fingers.
– Pass one cloth through the gap between the spokes and the rim and pull back and forth to polish each specific area on the rim.
– Repeat as you go round the wheel for both the inner hub and outer rim.
– With the two thirds of a cloth, passed this through the front spokes so that it rests on the hub. With both hands pull back and forth to polish that section.
Finished and ready for Tyre Dressing.*5

What is the best way to rejuvenate a tyre and give it that “New Tyre” look?

For the ultimate in “new tyre look” apply E-Valence Silicone Free Tyre Dressing.

This product is water based and does not contain silicone. Simply apply to a slightly moist sponge and wipe around the tyre in the usual manner. Once complete, ensure the tyre is dry by wiping over again with a microfibre cloth. For the cleaning and polishing of Painted Wire Wheel, refer to our online post.

*1 Polishing: – any process or chemical enhancement that includes the word “polish” by definition is an abrasive process to clean or enhance.

*2 E-Valence Chrome & Metal Polish is a non-abrasive cleaner and enhancer. We use the word in its generic sense to reflect correction.

*3 When finished store these cloths in a separate Zip lock bag. Throughout the correction process they will pick-up stainless-steel fibres that will be harmful to paint if used in a polishing or cleaning process

* 4 Chrome Plating. In the chrome plating process approximately 35% is Copper, 45-50% is Nickel and the final 15-20% is Chrome.

* 5 the rim used in this post is 20 years old and has been brought back to life using this process.


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