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What You Don't Know About Brake Dust on Your Rims Can Cost You a Bundle

Gregory Thorpe

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Fancy chrome and alloy automobile rims have become more and more popular among car owners. In particular, chrome rims have proliferated in recent years on new and used vehicles to improve appearance.

But that annoying brake dust that builds up and blackens the rims is ever present and costly and time consuming to remove. As a result, many auto owners just ignore the brake dust, which is a big mistake.

With the reduction of asbestos in brake pad composition, new materials were developed to replace asbestos. These new materials are the cause of the build up of black grime on your rims as they are sticky and adhere to your rim. To add insult to injury the metallic ingredients in the pad build up an electrostatic charge that is opposite to your rims and creates an electrical bond between the brake dust and your rims.

No wonder, just going through a car was without asking and paying for your rims to be cleaned will leave you with a nice shiny car but gray or black rims.

Walk down any street and you will notice a number of cars with virtually jet black rims, particularly the front rims as that's where the most braking occurs. What the owner is not aware of is the damage that is caused to their rims due to the caustic nature of brake dust. When brake dust is left too long on a rim it eats away at the surface causing pits that can house additional brake dust. Eventually, the rim will also become discolored if it is an alloy rim. What is worse is those beautiful chrome rims will become worthless as small bubbles will begin to appear and will eventually burst leaving bare metal that will rust.

That's the problem, but what about solutions?

First, there are an ever growing number of products on the market to help consumers deal with the brake dust problem. In general, these products can be broken down into the following categories:

1. Spray on and hose off -

Many people reading this article can relate to the spray on and hose off products that have dominated the market for years. However, they also know that the superlative claims of the manufacturer about how easy and complete the process is often falls short in reality and the consumer still has to get out the brush and bucket of another cleaner to get the job completely done. Some of these products also boast that they leave a shine so the extra step of having to polish your rims is not needed.

2. Spray on and wipe off -

A new development in brake dust cleaners are spray on a wipe off cleaners. These cleaners are convenient in that the consumer does not need water to get the job done. Some provide triple action in that they clean, shine and retard brake dust buildup. These products are the product of choice when a water hose is not available, such as for city dwellers, people traveling, truck drivers, and when it is just too much trouble to get the car in the driveway, get the hose out and then clean up the mess. Spray on and wipe off products also allows you to just pull the car into the garage when it is too hot or too cold outside as there is no watery or chemical run off.

3. Wipes -

A new development on the market are wipes which claim to clean shine and protect, but the jury is still out on the performance of this new product. Given the nature of brake dust one can imagine how many wipes will be needed you only have two sides of a wipe to use before it is full contaminated with brake dust and a new one is needed to ensure that you are not just leaving some brake dust on your rims. An advantage with wipes is that you do not need water to get the job done which has the same benefits of spray on and wipe off products.

4. Brush on and hose off -

Some spray on and wipe off products can also be used as a brush on and hose off product by adding some of the solution to a bucket of water. Using the product this way helps those who have a problem bending down and would rather just use a big auto cleaning brush on a pole and the solution to clean their rims.

In choosing a brake dust cleaning product, consider the following:

1. Does the product have the potential of damaging your rims if left on too long, usually no longer than 20 to 30 seconds?

2. Will the product damage any brake parts or paint if it comes into contact with such parts?

3. Will the product cause physical harm to skin, eyes, lungs or if ingested?

4. Does the product clean, shine and protect?

5. Is the product convenient under all circumstances?

6. Is the product environmentally friendly?

7. Last but not least does it live up to its superlative claims?

In summary, it is important to protect your investment in your rims and your vehicle's resale value. Remember to keep your rims clean and don't ignore that brake dust, it will cost you eventually if you do.

G. Thorpe is a freelance writer providing consumers with information and advice on a variety of subjects. For more information on brake dust removal and in particular a highly recommended brake dust cleaner, rim shiner and protector product that meets all of the above requirements see or


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