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If your wheels are looking dingy even after a car wash, brake dust may be the culprit. It isn’t difficult to get rid of brake dust if you know what to do, but typical soap won’t get the job done. Furthermore, getting the right brake pads can help prevent future brake dust from getting on your wheels in the future. Use these maintenance tips to get rid of brake dust and keep your wheels looking great.

A high-end brake pad and rotor like this AMG set can help get rid of brake dust.
Mercedes-AMG Brakes | Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Get an automotive iron remover

Knowing how to get rid of brake dust on your wheels isn’t about how hard you scrub. Instead, having the right automotive cleaners on hand will make the job a breeze. Even the strongest car wash soap won’t bust through baked-on brake dust.

Instead, head to the detailing aisle of your local auto parts store and look for wheel cleaners. These products have chemical iron removers that will easily break down that brake dust so it can be rinsed away.

Many have agents that will turn red or purple to indicate that they are working. Apply the product according to the package directions, and then simply rinse the solution away. In the event of heavy brake dust, it may take more than one application to fully clean the wheels.

Keep in mind that certain wheel finishes may react poorly to these traditional wheel cleaners. For example, bright chrome wheels require more specialized wheel cleaners to do the job safely. However, aluminum and painted wheels are typically safe, as are plastic hubcaps.

In many cases, you can even use these cleaners to remove residual brake dust from your car’s paint. However, do not apply these products in direct sunlight as they can cause lasting damage if left for too long.

For deep cleaning, use a wheel brush with iron remover

If you feel that your wheels are caked in brake dust, you can use a multi-step process for deeper cleaning. Start by rinsing the wheels with a pressure washer to remove any loose debris. Then, use a wheel cleaner to chemically remove the baked-on brake dust from the surface.

At this point, you can use a wheel brush to agitate the solution and provide a more thorough cleaning. There are several types of brushes available, but you want something that can get into the smaller areas of the wheel.

Finally, apply car wash soap via a microfiber towel or foam gun, and perform a final rinse to reveal your shiny clean wheels.

Which brake pads have the lowest brake dust?

According to Bridgestone, ceramic brake pads have the least dust of all the brake pad types. This is because they are harder than both semi-metallic and organic brake pads. However, you can get good results with semi-metallic brake pads if they are paired with the right brake rotors. Mixing brands and product lines can cause even high-quality brake pads to create excessive dust.

If you aren’t sure, consult your mechanic to ensure that your brake pads and rotors will work well together. This will help improve both braking performance and reduce dust to keep your wheels cleaner.

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