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What is brake dust & how does it hurt your rims?

Brake dust build up can be very damaging to your rims. Basically, brake dust is made up of iron particles and is caused by the grinding of the cast iron brake rotor by the brake pads. In addition, brake dust also contains some of the metallic elements of the brake pad and carbon residue, which also comes from the brake pad.

What is brake dust?

Each time you apply the brakes, the pads and rotors press together, creating brake dust. It’s a normal occurrence that happens on all vehicles.

But certain types of brake pads create more dust than others. Many modern cars come from the factory with semi-metallic pads, which are the type of brakes that create the most dust.

Replacing the semi-metallic pads with ceramic pads will reduce the dust significantly.

Even though ceramic pads still produce dust, they create less of it. Plus, because ceramic dust is lighter in color, it doesn’t stand out like the black residue created by semi-metallic pads.

Tips to clean the brake dust off of your rims yourself.

If you don’t feel like taking any preventative measures, you can simply clean the brake dust off the rims while washing your car.

What you’ll need:

  • Hose with a spray nozzle

  • Wash mitt

  • Bucket

  • Car wash soap

  • Soft-bristled wheel cleaning brush (optional)

  • Spray-on wheel cleaner

  • Towels

  • Wheel polish


  1. Use the hose (with the spray nozzle attached) to rinse off the wheel.

  2. Apply the wheel cleaner according to the instructions on the package. Note: Different types of wheels have different finishes (i.e., aluminum, painted, etc.). Be sure to select the correct type of cleaner for your wheels. Otherwise, you could do more harm than good.

  3. Rinse the wheel to remove the cleaner.

  4. Mix the car wash soap and water together inside the bucket.

  5. Dip the wash mitt into the bucket, then use the mitt to scrub away any remaining brake dust.

  6. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can try cleaning the dust off with a soft-bristled brush. Do not use a stiff-bristled brush, as it can damage your wheels. Selecting a brush that’s designed specifically for wheel cleaning is a safe bet.

  7. Rinse the wheel to remove the car wash soap.

  8. Dry the wheel with a clean towel.

  9. Apply the wheel polish according to the instructions on the package. Once again, be sure to select the correct type of cleaner for your wheel finish.

However, if you don't feel like cleaning your rims yourself. Car Wash King does offer wheel brite for $3 extra at the time of your purchase of a wash. All you have to do is stop by Car Wash King, 1502 S 10th St Noblesville, and add a wheel brite to your wash for a squeaky clean shine that your car needs.

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