How To Remove Rust From Alloy Wheels – 3 Home Remedies

Authored By Automobile Engineer

Alloy wheels are a popular accessory for cars, vans, and SUVs. They come in various styles, colors, and finishes, allowing you to give your vehicle an edgy look.

However, the finish on alloy wheels is fragile and can easily be deep scratches or potential damage by exposure to natural elements like sunlight and hot water.

If you have recently purchased an alloy wheel polish for your car or van, you will need to know how to remove alloy wheels rust before you can use them again.

I recommend that all brand-new alloy wheels are coated with protection at the point of sale. However, this protection may not last forever.

You may need to get your alloy wheels rust re-coated as soon as possible to maintain their original appearance.

Fortunately, removing rust from alloy wheels is a simple task that can be completed at home with suitable materials and preparation time.

Here are some ways How To Remove Rust From Alloy Wheels

Why Do Car Wheels Have Rust?

Alloy wheels are made from softer metal, primarily aluminum and steel.

Over time, the steel in the alloy wheels will begin to rust when exposed to warm water and oxygen.

Rust is a common occurrence on all vehicles, especially those driven regularly. Swerving through puddles, deep snow, and road salt will accelerate rust on your car.

While alloys are generally more resistant to rust, a damaged wheel will rust more quickly due to increased exposure to air and water.

Why Do Car Wheels Have Rust?

If you see rust on your alloy wheels, it’s best to remove it as quickly as possible before it spreads and damages the rest of the wheel.

Left untreated, rust can cause permanent damage to the alloy wheels. Removing rust from alloy wheels is also essential because it’s considered unsightly.

Alloys with rust will look dirty and neglected, which is not what you want your car to look like. You may even be fined or ticketed if your wheels are neglected because your vehicle will be deemed unclean.


Tip 1 – Water And Scrub Method

Tip 1 – Water And Scrub Method

The easiest way to remove rust from a wheel is by mixing water and mild detergent in a bucket. Place the wheels in the bucket and scrub the rust with a brush.

This method works well for light rust that has not yet spread to the rest of the wheel. If the rust is thick, you may need to repeat this method more than once.


Tip 2 – Use Safe Acid-Based Cleaners

Another way to remove rust from alloy wheels is by using a safe acid-based wheel cleaner. These wheel cleaners are designed to dissolve rust and are safe for alloy wheels.

Tip 2 – Use Safe Acid-Based Cleaners

Choose a product that is not too strong but strong enough to remove the rust properly. If the wheel is rusty, you may have to soak it in the cleaning solution for at least a day. Follow the instructions on the cleaning product carefully.

You must apply the cleaning solution and let it sit for a while before scrubbing the wheel with a brush. Rinse the wheels with water and dry them with a microfiber cloth before using them again.


Tip 3 – The Sandblaster Method

If the rust has spread to the point where the water and scrub method and cleaning solution do not work, you will have to use a sandblaster to remove the rust from your wheel.

This method involves removing the wheel from the car and attaching it to a sandblaster machine. Follow the instructions on the sandblaster carefully and wear protective clothing and eyewear.

Completing this task will remove the wheel’s rust and protect it from future rusting. If you don’t have access to a sandblaster, you can take the wheel to a mechanic or car shop. They will likely charge you a fee for this service.


Homemade Rust Removal Cleaner

Homemade Rust Removal Cleaner

If you don’t have the money to buy a commercial cleaning solution, you can make your rust removal cleaner.

You will need to mix more vinegar, steel wool, and baking soda in a bowl. The mixture should be thick enough to stick to the wheel.

Cover the wheel with the mixture and let it sit for a few hours. When scrubbing the wheel with a brush, the rust should come off quickly.

What Is The Fastest Way To Remove Rust From Metal?

If you need to remove rust from many wheels, you can use an electric or battery-operated sandblaster.

This tool can be used to blast rust from the wheel in a short period. If you’re cleaning one wheel, choose a manual sandblaster.

They are faster than electric sandblasters and are preferred by experienced wheel cleaners due to their control.

How Do You Remove Rust Without Scrubbing?

You can remove rust without scrubbing by using an electrochemical process. You will have to visit a car shop or mechanic to get this done because it requires special equipment.

However, it is a quick and effective way to clean wheels of rust without scrubbing.

How Can Alloy Wheels Be Kept From Rusting?

The best way to prevent corrosion your wheels from rusting is to clean them regularly.

Cleaning your wheels can remove dirt and grime that may be causing your wheels to rust. Applying a protective coating on your wheels is also a good idea.

This coating will protect your wheels from the elements and prevent rust. Be sure to apply the layer before the revolutions start to rust.

How Can Alloy Wheels Be Kept From Rusting?
How Can Alloy Wheels Be Kept From Rusting?

If your wheels are already rusted, you can remove the rust with the methods listed above. Once the rust is gone, you can protect your wheels from rusting again by applying a protective coating. Choose a layer that is rust-proof, water-resistant, and durable.


If rust has spread to other parts of your alloy wheel, you may need to replace the wheel completely. Repairing rusted wheels can be costly, and the repairs may be challenging.

If you attempt to repair your rusted wheels, you may cause more damage than good. You may have to remove the wheel to sandblast the rusted areas if the rust is severe.

This is time-consuming and costly, so be sure to remove the wheel as soon as rust is discovered.


Alloy wheels can last for decades if cared for properly. Regular cleaning, coating the wheels and avoiding driving through puddles are the best ways to keep your wheels from rusting.

If rust does appear on your wheels, remove it quickly by following the methods listed above. Now that you know how to remove rust from alloy wheels, you can get your vehicle looking its best again. Alloy wheels are a popular upgrade for many cars.

However, they are also expensive accessories, so you want to keep them in good condition for as long as possible.

Don Sutton
Don Sutton has had a long and varied career in engineering, spanning four different countries. He began his apprenticeship in New Zealand at Paeroa Motors in 1965 before moving to the United States where he studied at Paeroa College before accepting a job as an engineer with Bendix/Kirby/TRW/Tristar. His work involved designing components for the automotive industry for over thirty years, including brake pads, power steering pumps, and fuel injectors. In 2005 Don left automotive design to pursue other interests but maintains an interest in all things related to automobiles. He is currently retired from engineering but continues to consult on issues relating to vehicle testing and manufacture when needed!