There are a ton of choices available when it comes to wheel cleaner detailing products and sprays. Everyone has a favorite, and they are without a doubt an essential part of BMW ownership thanks to those dusty factory organic brake pads stuffed into every production BMW out there.
Ceramic brake pads are known for their low or zero dusting, coupled with excellent braking bite under spirited driving at high brake temperatures. I have tried several aftermarket brands of high performance ceramic brake pads over the years, and never really liked any of them more than the BMW factory pads. The factory pads dust a ton, but their bite is excellent for a daily driven car and they’re also very quite.
So, you get the quite and grippy brake performance from the factory pads, but must also deal with the dust. That’s where the wheel cleaner comes in. For a long time I’ve used Super Clean to clean brake dust, but it is acidic and can ruin wheels if you’re not extremely careful. I’ve recently tried two new wheel cleaners, one expensive German version made by a company called Sonax – and one widely available inexpensive American version from Mothers.
First let’s take a look at the Super Clean method which I’ve used forever. This stuff is acidic, and can ruin your wheels, so use with caution (if at all). It’s powerful and must be used with gloves. It can be found at most big box stores and here on Amazon.
It’s also good to note you should only clean your wheels when they’re totally cold. No cleaning hot wheels, or cleaning after driving to the store to buy detailing products. The wheel should be cold to the touch. Below is the Super Clean video:
Next, have a look at the Sonax Full Effect wheel cleaner in the video below. It is Ph balanced, non-acid, and works quite well at removing brake dust from well cared for wheels. It’s pretty cool to watch it go from neon green as it’s sprayed on, to a red color as it contacts and binds with iron particles that make up brake dust on the wheels. It does retail for around $17 for a 17 oz bottle or $1 per ounce. The caviar of wheel cleaners. It boasts a rating on Amazon equal to 4.3 out of 5 stars by reviewers.
After trying the Sonax, I came across Mother’s new foaming wheel cleaner at a big box store. It’s commonly available at places like Target, Walmart and other run of the mill corporate auto parts stores. It can be found for around $5 and is also available here on Amazon. I picked up a bottle and gave it a try. It has a rating equal to 4.0 out of 5 stars by reviewers. Here is a video below with the results:
Overall I was quite impressed with the results from a $5 bottle of cleaner. It had a smell very similar to the Sonax, and is also Ph balanced and acid free. A much safer approach than using something like Super Clean. I could buy 3 bottles of this one for the same cost of only one bottle of Sonax. Something to consider. I’m not convinced that Sonax is a good value if you are detailing your car frequently.
I want to know – what is your favorite wheel cleaner? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out my other BMW detailing videos here.
Products discussed in this post: