Suject: Cleaning Porsche Wheels
   by Larry Reynolds
   Before we get into the actual cleaning, let's discuss the brake dust
   problem. Brake pads are made from several components, including
   mono-filament carbon fibers, metal filings, kevlar fibers and polymer
   based adhesives. The brake pad adhesive is the root of most of our
   problems. When the adhesive residue (a component of brake dust)
   becomes wet, it turns acidic and may etch your wheels. The metal
   filings, during braking, will become red hot and tend to "burn" tiny
   holes in the finish of your wheels. The only sure way to stop all this
   etching/burning is to refrain from using your brakes. Such a course of
   action is not usually desirable, even though some non-Porsche drivers
   are proponents.
   The best way to remove brake dust is to wash often with a quality car
   wash. If you keep up with the accumulation, your wheels will remain in
   top shape. Another method to protect your wheels from the nasty brake
   dust is to coat them with a sacrificial protectant such as wax or
   petroleum jelly. This coating will be the victim of the acids and "red
   hots", leaving your wheels free to enjoy a pristine life.
   Put your Porsche in gear, engage the parking brake and chock the
   wheels front and back with solid wheel chocks (I use 6" sections of 4"
   x 4" posts). Slightly loosen the wheel lug nuts with your
   socket/breaker bar. Do NOT remove them, only "break them free." Put a
   note to yourself on the steering wheel that you have loosened the lug
   nuts (this is the voice of experience speaking). Jack up one corner of
   the car and carefully place at least one, preferably two jackstands
   under the frame jackpoints. The jackstands should be tight against the
   frame jackpoint. I can not over stress the importance of safety
   jackstands. Imagine yourself as a "squirrel street pizza" and your
   trust in a jack alone may fade.
   Remove the five (4 on 914) lug nuts and place them in a zip lock bag.
   Remove the wheel and take it to your work area. There are several ways
   to clean your wheels, choose the least aggressive that will get them
   clean. A quality car wash/water solution is the least aggressive and
   will probably remove most of the dirt/brake dust from the wheel. I use
   Sonax Gloss Shampoo at a dilution of two capfuls per gallon of water
   to clean wheels. If car wash does not do the trick, then try a quality
   wheel cleaner. My two favorite wheel cleaners are both made in
   Germany, P21S and Sonax. Be careful when choosing a wheel cleaner,
   some of the popular brands are highly acidic or basic and may damage
   the finish on your wheels. A current class-action law suit in
   California alleges that a popular advertised brand is damaging to
   almost all wheel finishes.
   Most wheel cleaners work best on a dry wheel. Spray the cleaner on the
   wheel and work into all areas of the wheel with a soft cloth, soft
   sponge or wash mitt. Allow the wheel cleaner some time to work (3-5
   minutes) and gently scrub the wheel with your cloth/sponge/mitt. Some
   areas of a dirty wheel may require gentle brushing with a soft brush
   to dislodge the dirt. If areas need additional cleaning, re-spray with
   wheel cleaner and gently brush. I repeat the warning, the keywords
   here "soft" and "gently." The finish on many Porsche wheels is an
   acrylic enamel that is relatively soft and may scratch. Once the
   dirt/brake dust is loosened, rinse thoroughly with water and dry with
   lots of 100% cotton towels. Try not to use your wife's towels that are
   hanging in the bathroom, as this can lead to sudden marital discontent
   (voice of experience again).
   If some areas of the wheel are still dirty, you may have to resort to
   a stronger solvent, such as Oil Flo Safety Solvent to spot clean these
   areas. Test all solvents on a section of the wheel that does not show,
   to insure that the finish will not be damaged. Spray the solvent on a
   cloth and spot clean the dirty area. Again gentle brushing may help.
   Rinse thoroughly, wash with a car wash/water solution and dry
   If your wheels are painted and/or clearcoated, you may wish to give
   them a coat of a quality carnauba wax to help protect them. If they
   are slightly faded or dull looking, 3M Imperial Hand Glaze may help
   clean the faded clearcoat/paint. Apply the glaze to a soft cloth and
   gently rub out the clouding and buff out. If this does not do the
   trick, put a generous amount of 3M on your cloth and add a small
   amount of Blue Magic Metal Polish (about the size of your pinkie
   nail). Polish out the clouding with this combination. The Blue
   Magic/3M combination will usually get the job done. When it has,
   follow up with a coat of quality carnauba wax.
   If your wheels are anodized, Porsche recommends a protective coating
   of petroleum jelly. I have tried this and have chosen to use a
   carnauba wax instead. I found that the petroleum jelly attracted every
   dust particle within a half-mile. Anodized wheels that have stain
   marks are difficult to restore. Porsche does NOT recommend the use of
   any metal polish on anodized wheels. It will remove some of the
   anodization and change the appearance slightly. If you can live with
   the removal of some of the anodization and the appearance change, a
   mild metal polish such as Blue Magic or P21S Metal Finish Restorer
   Polish may help remove some of the stains. Test any metal polish on
   the back of the wheel before using. Once the wheel is done, apply a
   thin coat of carnauba wax or petroleum jelly.
   How do you determine if your wheels are painted/clearcoated or
   anodized? The painted/clear coated finish is smooth to the touch and
   the anodized finish feels slightly rough. Here's a rough guide: Fuchs
   and cookie cutter style - painted center, anodized rim; phone dial and
   five spoke style - painted and clearcoated; flat dish style -
   anodized; and the seven spoke style is either anodized or
   painted/clearcoated. If you have any doubts, one method of testing the
   finish is to touch the tip of your tongue to the wheel. If you taste
   metal, it is usually anodized. If you taste almost nothing, it is
   usually clearcoat. (The mental image of Porsche owners licking their
   wheels is almost too much.)
   While you have the wheel off, apply a coat of your favorite
   non-silicone-based rubber protectant to the entire tire. You should
   also check the tire for any signs of unusual wear, cracks, checking
   and nails. This is also a good time to check your brakes, shocks and
   suspension. The entire wheel well area should be cleaned. A coat of
   wax on the inside of the wheel well will help protect the paint and
   keep it clean. Sonax makes a spray wax that requires little buffing
   and does a great job. Replace the wheel, lubricate the stud threads
   with a light coating of anti-seize and tighten by hand.
   Tighten wheel lugs a little at a time, using a star pattern
   (1-3-5-2-4), so you don't crack the alloy wheel. Once the wheel is
   seated and the lugs are as tight as possible by hand, remove the
   jackstands and gently lower the car. Torque the wheels to the
   specified torque (usually 95 ft-lbs - check your owners manual) a
   little at a time (35/65/95 ft-lbs) again using the star pattern. Just
   three more wheels to go! If you have any questions, or cannot find the
   products mentioned locally, please give me a call.
   (Editor's Note -- Larry Reynolds also operates Car Care Specialties
   Inc., Distributors of Quality Porsche Care Products, Post Office Box
   535, Saddle Brook, NJ 07663-0535. Phone 201-796-8300, Fax
   201-791-9743, E-mail