Brake dust originates from the wearing of the brake pads as they are pressed to the brake rotor for stopping action. The binding agent which constitutes the brake pad compound creates an electrolytic action with the aluminum alloy wheels and attaches to the alloy wheel. If left on the wheel, pitting can occur, penetrating the finish of the wheel.
Alloy wheels provide a striking appearance for a car, but neglect of cleaning this important visual component of your car can lead to permanent deterioration of the wheel finish. Normal soaps are usually too weak to clean this dust off wheels. Care should be taken to use separate wash water and cleaning materials from that used to clean the car. Be careful not to use a high acid or alkaline content solution as any over spray will take wax off the car.
There are a number of safe and effective cleaners on the market which have a pH level of 8.5 to 9.5 which is the appropriate range for such a solution. Wheels should be routinely waxed after cleaning to assist in the normal cleaning schedule.
Wheel cleaning must only be done when they are dry and cool, preferably in the shade. Spraying water on wheels, drums, or rotors when they are hot from use can permanently damage them. Best time to clean wheels is before washing the car or separately on another occasion. Only clean one wheel at a time. Use a plastic or wooden core brush -- not metal-- with soft bristles. Clear coats can chip easily and great care should be exercised in this important cleaning step.
Treat clear-coated wheels with the same product designed for an automobile body.
Brake Dust Fallout
In several areas, a new problem has appeared in which rain and dew are leaving deposits on vehicle finishes. These deposits show up as orange dots, generally toward the rear of the vehicle. It's easy to see these deposits on light-colored or white vehicles, but you can feel them as little bumps on the surfaces of dark-colored vehicles.
There are a lot of different theories as to what this is, including acid rain, but another cause may be metallic particles from disc brakes. These particles are continually being blown up and settling on vehicles. When moisture collects on the vehicle overnight, the metal particles start to rust and adhere to the vehicle's paint. Eventually, it will burn down through the paint and cause permanent damage.
One way to remove the particles is with clay. The old way was to use rubbing compound and grind them off, but that can sometimes take off the paint. Clay seems to remove most deposits -- acid rain, overspray, fallout.
This buildup can be found on brand-new vehicles that have just been shipped, particularly if they have been sitting somewhere, and the buildup process has already started.
If you have your vehicle detailed twice a year, the buildup will be kept down. It really depends on whether a vehicle is parked outside at night, and if it has a good coat of wax on it. How much the vehicle is exposed to the elements makes an extreme difference in how the finish will hold up over time.
Mobile Enterprises, Inc. Phone: (732) 634-5775