Aluminum rims and wheels are expensive and must be protected from corrosion or oxidation. This isn’t hard to do.

First, check for a clear coating on the aluminum. You have bare aluminum if the aluminum leaves a black residue on the rag.

Aluminum wheels give your car a great look and feel, but they can become dirty and oxidize faster than steel ones. Fortunately, it’s not hard to clean and polish aluminum wheels so that they look new again. 

  • Bare Aluminum Wheels

Unfinished or bare aluminum wheels are much more prone to oxidation than those with paint or a clear coat. During a standard drive, tiny airborne contaminants like dirt, road salt, sand, gravel, sticks, brake dust, and more stick to the wheels and cause them to corrode quickly. In addition, abrasive brake pad residue can etch into the surface of unfinished aluminum.

Luckily, you want to save money and aren’t worried about your wheels looking too shabby. In that case, you can refinish your 24 inch wheels by applying an automotive refinishing product that restores the shine of bare aluminum. These products are readily available in auto parts stores and home improvement centers. 

Bare Aluminum Wheels

Before you apply a refinishing product, ensure your rims have a coating. When you wipe off the polish with a clean microfiber cloth, if black residue appears on the rag, the wheels are uncoated and have oxidation. If no black residue is present, the rims have a clear coating and are safe to be cleaned.

  • Polish the Rims

Aluminum is a light and durable metal used to make wheels and rims that add a distinctive flair to your car. It’s essential to regularly clean aluminum rims for a glossy shine and performance that lasts. 

This will remove most of the oxidation and contaminants that make your rims look dull. You may have to scrub at a few hard-to-reach areas, but it’s worth it for the flawless finish you’ll achieve.

Polish your wheels

Once the rims are cleaned, polish them to remove residual oxidation and reveal the shiny surface underneath.  You can check XM Wheels if you want assistance in this regard. 

You can test for a coating by applying a little polish to a soft, clean microfiber cloth and wiping it away. You’re dealing with bare aluminum if no black residue is left behind. 

  • Apply Wax or Sealant

The first step in removing salt damage and oxidation from aluminum is to clean the wheels thoroughly. After the aluminum has been cleaned, it’s important to rinse it off before you apply any cleaners or polishes. 

Start by spraying the rims with an aluminum cleaner such as Busch Aluminum Wash. This mild acid-based cleaner helps to remove oxidation, hard water spots, and minor pitting from the aluminum surface. Repeat as necessary until the aluminum is down to the bare metal.

Apply Wax or Sealant

If the aluminum has heavy oxidation, you’ll want to use a commercial metal polish designed for bare aluminum. These can be found online, at a superstore, or at an auto supply store. To use the polish, dip a cloth into the product and rub it over the aluminum in small sections. Rinse the wheel regularly and keep it wet as you work to prevent water spots.

Once you have finished applying the wax or sealant, rinse the rims again. Then, wipe them down with a lint-free towel. Be sure to get the spokes and in-between lug nuts, as well.

  • Restore the Shine

The most crucial step in removing oxidation from aluminum is to clean it properly. This requires a thorough but gentle washing with soapy water and a soft brush. 

Once you have a nice, clean surface on your aluminum wheels, it is time to polish them. Many aluminum cleaners and polishes are very harsh, irritating the skin and eyes. You should always wear protective gear when working with aluminum products to avoid this.

Brushed aluminum is often found on cookware, bicycles, car hubcaps, and more. This is a very durable, attractive, and easy-to-care-for metal, but it can also become subject to oxidation over time. The oxidation can make the aluminum look dull and chalky and cause rust or corrosion. To keep your brushed aluminum looking great, removing this oxidation as soon as you notice it is essential.


You can use a metal polish to prevent oxidation and then apply a wax or sealant. This will help to protect the aluminum and keep it from absorbing dust, dirt, and other contaminants that can cause rust or corrosion. This will also make the surface hydrophobic, repelling water and dirt rather than attracting them.


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To see if you have a clear coat on your aluminum, take a rag and wipe it across the wheel’s surface. If the rag comes away with black residue, bare aluminum is prone to corrosion and oxidation. If there is no black residue, you likely have a clear coat that is doing its job to protect the aluminum from corrosion.


Q1) What causes oxidation on aluminum rims? 

Oxidation on aluminum rims is primarily caused by exposure to the elements, such as moisture, air, and road salts. Over time, these factors form a layer of oxidation, which appears as a dull and discolored surface on the rims.

Q2) How can I remove oxidation from my aluminum rims at home? 

To remove oxidation from aluminum rims at home, you can follow these steps:

  • Start by thoroughly cleaning the rims with mild detergent and water.
  • Next, use a dedicated aluminum rim cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water to remove the oxidation. Apply the cleaner to a soft cloth or sponge and gently scrub the rims in circular motions.
  • Rinse the rims with water and dry them with a clean towel.
  • For more stubborn oxidation, you can use aluminum polish and a microfiber cloth to buff the rims until the oxidation is eliminated.
  • Finally, apply a protective coating or wax to prevent future oxidation and maintain the shine of your rims.

Q)3 Is it necessary to remove oxidation from aluminum rims? 

Removing oxidation from aluminum rims is not only necessary for aesthetic reasons but also for maintaining their longevity. Oxidation weakens the protective layer of the rims, making them more susceptible to further damage from corrosion and other environmental factors. By removing oxidation, you can extend the lifespan of your rims and ensure they remain in good condition.

Q4)Can professionals help with the oxidation removal and restoration of aluminum rims? 

Yes, professional detailers and auto shops often offer services for the oxidation removal and restoration of aluminum rims. They have the expertise and specialized tools to remove oxidation and restore the rims to a like-new condition. Seeking professional assistance can be a convenient option if you prefer a professional touch or if the oxidation is severe.

Q5) What preventive measures can I take to minimize oxidation on aluminum rims? 

To minimize oxidation on your aluminum rims, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Regularly clean your rims to remove dirt, grime, and road salts.
  • Apply a protective coating or wax to create a barrier against oxidation.
  • Avoid exposing your rims to harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners.
  • Store your vehicle in a covered area or use protective covers when not in use.
  • Use rim protectors or guards to shield the rims from scratches and damage.

Q6)Are there any specific cleaning products I should avoid when dealing with aluminum rims?

When cleaning aluminum rims, avoiding harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners, or steel wool is advisable. These can cause damage to the rims’ surface and exacerbate oxidation. Instead, opt for dedicated aluminum rim cleaners or mild solutions such as vinegar and water for safe and effective cleaning.