Remove Rust from Wheels – Effective and Economical Methods

Remove rust from wheels methods exist, and you can choose one depending on your preference and the extent of the rusting. Washing the wheels with hot soapy water and scrubbing with a brush is the easiest; you can also clean the rust away with a suitable store-bought cleaner or standard homemade supplies like vinegar, or you can even use a sandblaster.

Remove Rust from Wheels

We’ve discussed these methods in detail below. You’ll also learn some practical tips to prevent your wheels from rusting so that you don’t find yourself in a similar situation, so read on.

How To Eliminate Rust From Your Car’s Wheels At Home?

To eliminate rust from your car’s wheels at home, clean the wheels with hot soapy water first. Apply a degreasing soap and scrub with a brush or scouring pad. Alternatively, clean the rims using a store-bought cleaner or homemade solutions, such as vinegar and sodium bicarbonate, or use a sandblaster.

Some people have asked, “Is rust on wheels bad?” and the answer is yes! Car wheels contribute significantly to the overall vehicle’s appearance. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got the shiniest bodywork. The car’s look can generally be ruined if your rims are covered in unsightly oxidation.

Rust can cause permanent damage to your rims. Therefore, it’s essential to act as soon as you notice it. If you delay, the rust will eventually eat into the metal, creating tiny holes and weakening the rim structure. That would require you to buy a new rim, the last thing you want.

Whether you have steel or genuine chrome rims, it’s possible to eliminate rust and corrosion using one of the methods above. Continue reading to find out which method works best for you.

  • Clean Your Rims With Soap and Water

Using water and soap is the easiest and most economical trick if you want to know “how to remove rust from steel. wheels”. The method is applicable if the rust is not very thick or too established. You’ll need a bucket of hot water, a degreasing soap, a brush, or a scouring pad to scrub the oxidation off. Also, keep a clean microfiber cloth handy to dry the rims after cleaning them.

Cleaning Rims With Soap

Once you’ve gathered the supplies, wash the wheels using the hot water and try to remove as much rust, grime, and dirt as possible. Next, spray the degreasing soap on the rims and brush them until the rust disappears. You may need a wire brush to combat stubborn rust and force it to break away. After removing all the unsightly patches, wipe the rims with a microfiber cloth to restore their original shine.

  • Use Homemade Solutions

Another Do-It-Yourself method to get rid of rust on tire rims involves using specific homemade products. One of the most popular is white vinegar. You’ll require about 12 ounces of vinegar, fine-grade steel wool, a cloth, clean water in a bucket (or garden hose), and a spray bottle. Vinegar removes oxidation by reacting with the rust and letting it dissolve, making it the best rust remover for alloy wheels.

So, pour the product into your spray bottle and spray over the entire rusted rim area. Ensure you saturate the whole part. Let the product sit for about half an hour. After that, scrub the vinegar into the rim using the fine-grade steel wool pad. You can repeat the steps until all the ugly sites disappear (including the rust on wheel hub).

Now rinse the rims with clean water, and the rust should disappear. Finally, dry the rims entirely with the cloth. At that point, your aluminum rims should be rust-free and shiny. But if you find the vinegar requires a boost, add some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

You can also scrub your rims with salt and lemon juice, and it will function like vinegar or vinegar and baking soda mixture. Soaking the rusted section in a citric acid solution and allowing it to sit for at least 30 minutes will enable you to clean rust on rims that need to scrub vigorously. These homemade rust removers are your go-to option if you want to know how to extract rust from wheels without too much scrubbing.

  • Commercial-Bought Cleaners

If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, there are several commercial-bought cleaners that you can use to restore the shine on your rims without any scrubbing. Products like WD-40 Specialist Rust Remover Soak 300042 will do the job with little elbow grease. Those asking

Commercial Car Cleaners

“how to remove rust from alloy wheels?”

can also try Por-15 Rust Remover or Evapo-Rust Rust Remover Er004.

All these products are available at most local auto parts stores. They will always have instructions to use them on the packaging. Other popular store-bought cleaners for those wondering how to get rust off rims chrome include the Chemical Guys Decon Pro Iron Remover & Wheel Cleaner and Rust-Oleum 300112 Rust Dissolver Gel.

Since these products are usually acid-based, you may require to rinse the rims with a degreaser after using them to neutralize any acid left on the wheel. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to obtain the best results.

  • Consider the Sandblaster Method

This method should be the last resort because it will probably remove paint from the rim and leave the metal exposed. However, suppose you are okay with repainting and refinishing your rims. In that case, a sandblaster may be your ideal choice for removing rust, especially on steel.

You’ll need a sandblaster, soapy water in a bucket, and two pieces of clean cloth. You’ll also require protective clothing – face mask, goggles, and gloves.

First, clean the car rims thoroughly using soapy water and one of the cloths. Next, wipe them to dry using the other piece of the clean cloth. Remove the wheel rims and put them on a level surface outside. Wear protective clothing, turn the sandblaster on, and aim it at the sections of rust.

Move the nozzle back and forth to allow the sand to directly hit all the areas of oxidation on your rims. Blast until the rust comes out from the steel rims. Once you obtain satisfactory results, please turn off the sandblaster, clean the rims with soapy water, and then dry them with a clean cloth. As mentioned, the sandblaster will likely have removed the finish and paint from the rims, along with the unsightly rust.

So, the final step will be to repaint the rims to restore their original shine. After that, you now need to ensure that your rims don’t get rusty again anytime soon. We have a few tips for you in our next section. Note that a sandblaster is expensive, but you can rent it from any equipment rental store near you.

How To Prevent Your Car’s Wheels From Rusting?

To prevent your car’s wheels from rusting, wash them regularly to keep them clean and dirt-free. Also, consider using wheel covers to minimize scratch formation on the rims and wheel hubs. Other innovative measures include polishing, plating, and upgrading to a more rust-resistant material, such as aluminum.

Keeping your rims in pristine condition is often challenging for most people, especially those in wet regions. However, following the tips above, you can still keep the wheels rust-free.

See more in detail below.

  • Keep the Rims Always Clean

Dirty wheels are more susceptible to rusting. Dirt is abrasive, and if you allow it to cake on your rims, it may cause tiny scratches that trap moisture, causing stains, rust, and corrosion in the long run. Thus, wash and dry the wheels regularly to discourage dirt buildup.

Keeping Car Rims Clean

According to experts, you should wash your wheels at least twice a month. You can do it once a week if you drive on very dusty roads. Ensure you use a suitable car wash soap, not regular household soap. Avoid using abrasive or overly harsh cleaners, especially on alloy wheels.

  • Consider Using Wheel Covers (Hubcaps)

Hubcaps are designed to cover the wheel hub to avoid direct exposure to any form of damage. They prevent road rocks and debris from knocking against the wheels and minimize moisture exposure. Wheel covers are an excellent investment, particularly for premium aftermarket wheels.

  • Use Polishing and Rust-Resistant Spray Paints

There are many polishing products on the market formulated specifically for wheels. When applied, they remove stains and water spots, which could turn into ugly oxidation. Many car owners use them to enhance their vehicle’s aesthetics and protect the wheels against future damage. 

Look for a wheel polish suitable for your wheels, which will reduce the appearance of scratches and improve shine. Similarly, rust-proof spray paints, such as Rust-Oleum High-Performance Wheel Coating, can provide an extra layer of protection against rusting. Like polishing products, these spray paints also improve the wheel’s appearance.

  • Upgrade to a More Rust-Resistant Material

Wheels come in different materials, such as high-carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum wheels. Some are better in terms of resisting stains and rust than others. For example, although high-carbon steel wheels are strong, they are highly susceptible to rusting.

Rust Resistant Wheel Material

So, consider changing to a different material if you’re using high-carbon steel rims. You could go for aluminum, which is a popular alternative. Aluminum wheels are lightweight and offer a significant amount of protection against rusting. Stainless steel wheels, on the other hand, weigh more but are also highly rust-resistant.

  • Go For Plating

As mentioned, corrosion-related damage can be costly because it can require an untimely rim replacement. Plating may seem extra expensive to many car owners, but it’s an intelligent rust preventive measure that can serve you a lot of money down the road. Your wheels can be plated using zinc, chrome, aluminum, and other common plating metals. 

The process boosts the wheels’ aesthetics and makes them less susceptible to oxidation. It can also increase durability and help to avoid oxidation (particularly rust behind rims and calipers. However, if you decide to do it, choose a reputable company for the best service. A reliable professional will also back up their work with a warranty.


In our guide above, we’ve discussed several methods to get rid of rust from car’s wheels.

Let’s leave you with a summary:

  • Cleaning your wheels with hot soapy water may be all that’s needed to eliminate light stains and rusting.
  • Homemade solutions like white vinegar can help if the rust is too established.
  • You can also buy acid-based cleaners at your local auto part store to remove rust on all rim types – steel, aluminum, and alloy with little elbow grease.
  • A sandblaster is another effective rust removal tool but will remove paint on the rim, requiring repainting and so it should be your last resort.
  • Keeping your wheels clean, using hubcaps, and polishing are some practical tips to discourage rust formation.

You’re now fully informed on how to restore your rusty car’s wheels. So choose your ideal method, gather the necessary tools, and do it!

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