Car Care : Winter Wheel Care

Winter time brings the fluffy white stuff for a lot of us. Cold weather and bad road conditions can be brutal on you and your car. While a lot of people focus on what tires are under them, they don’t often bother to do much with the wheels in the winter. A lot of us just have to much going on to be bothered or we just assume our wheels are invincible.

Unfortunately during the tough winter months the DOT uses road sand and salt to melt snow and increase traction on slippery surfaces. The road salt is great for traction but not so great for your wheels finish and can eat away at your wheels shine in a hurry. You obviously can’t just park your car when the going gets tough so a little preventative maintenance before the winter starts could help save those shiny wheels for the summer.

Polish Polish Polish

Just like your cars paint, the wheels have a finish of some kind on them. Whether their chrome wheels or brushed aluminum, they have some type of finish on them that keeps them looking good. Using a wheel polish or wax on them can add a protective cover over the finish fend off that harsh road salt. On chrome wheels its important to use a designated chrome polish applied with a soft applicator. Any harsh or dry polishing of a chrome wheel can leave light scratches in the finish.

Clean Them!

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t clean your car. Touch-less car washes are very popular now and usually offer a deluxe wash that can do a good job on the wheels and under carriage of your car. Better yet if you want to get out of your car and brave the cold you can use a self serve car wash to really blast that road salt and grime off the wheels. Just remember not to wipe them down in the winter, this can really scratch the wheels surface if there’s extra grime left behind after rinsing them off. Also don’t get to close with the sprayer, the last thing you want is to pressure wash the finish off. Running the car through a car wash once a week is a great way to keep the wheels in good condition along with the rest of your cars paint.

Beware of tire chains

Tire chains can be great in a sticky situation but stay away from them as much as possible. Their not needed and can ruin your wheels after just a few miles of driving.  Properly selected snow tires can make all the difference in adverse conditions and will almost eliminate the need for tire chains. In really severe snowy areas, studded snow tires can be an excellent alternative to using tire chains.

Winter wheels

While not the most convenient or cost effective option, having an extra set of steel wheels for the winter is a great idea. It’s the best of both worlds having performance tires for the summer and winter tires for the winter conditions. The extra set of wheels eliminates the need to worry about your fancy summer chrome wheels or those expensive OEM aluminum wheels. This is by far the best option if you live in an area with a lot of snow. Often people assume that having winter tires is only for rear wheel drive cars but that’s not true. Winter tires can make a huge difference on any car, FWD, RWD or AWD, it doesn’t matter, winter tires on winter wheels are a great way to keep you and your passengers safe.


With a small amount of effort you can have a long lasting shine on your wheels even during the salty winter months. I for one envy people in other parts of the country that don’t have to deal with road salt and snow every year. The snow affects car buying decisions and almost eliminates some really awesome cars from your daily driver list. In any case, this winter be sure to polish, clean and care for those fancy wheels. You’ll really be glad you did come summer time.