Nothing can make a car look better than a nice set of wheels and tires. Wide whitewall tires are the kings of cool when it comes to old cars and they really make your ride standout. But nothing can be a bigger bummer than when they get stained from dirt, grease, or road grime. I’ve heard numerous methods for cleaning whitewalls but I’ve learned a few tips that will easily make your whitewalls shine again.
1.Use new or clean rags/supplies- You don’t pull an old used rag out of the bin to polish your car with, why your tires? Whitewalls tend to stain quickly and you need every advantage you can to get them clean again. If you use a rag that has grease, dirt or a harsh chemical residue on it you could cause more damage than good. I like to use a new white rag or sacrifice a clean white tshirt when cleaning. I’d avoid using a red shop rag or something other than white. Shop rags also tend to leave red fuzzies all over the tires afterwards and could drive the OCD side of you nuts!
2.Get some help with an abrasive- I use the term “abrasive” carefully, put your DA sander down! Depending on the severity of the stain I like to couple my cleaning agent with a fine nylon abrasive or scuff pad. Use light pressure just to break the surface of the stain. It’s a similar idea to wetsanding clearcoat, you just want to remove the imperfection, but remember you’re taking a tiny bit of material away as you go. So don’t be alarmed if your rag or scuff pad has a tiny bit of white on it, but don’t push hard or you’ll have sand lines or scuffed up whitewalls! I’ve also used 000 steel wool and hard bristle brushes with success.
3.Use PRE- Low VOC PRE coupled with a rag works well to remove stubborn stains. I’ve had luck even removing light stains from a black wall tire touching a whitewall with this method. Apply the Low VOC PRE to your rag and go right to rubbing the stain. Once you see the spot has lightened up or has mostly gone away, switch to a less-harsh cleaner to finish up the rest of the tire.
4.Simple Green- Uncut (not diluted) Simple Green works awesome for cleaning whitewalls that are just lightly dirty overall. I liberally apply simple green around the whitewall and spray a little on the rag and go around the wheel working the cleaner into the whitewall. I then come back with the clean side of the rag (or another clean rag) and wipe/dry the whitewall off. If you do this every time you wash your car or after a day of driving, it should only take a few minutes per wheel and will keep your tires show ready!