Armor All Rim Protectant
Armor All Rim Protectant. Click image to enlarge

By Paul Williams

Anyone who owns a vehicle fitted with alloy wheels knows how difficult it is to keep them clean. Brake dust is the main culprit, which on my car covers the front wheels within a few days of washing.

It’s not just an appearance issue. Brake dust is corrosive and over time will damage your rims.

Over the years I’ve tried most products available to alleviate this problem. Some you spray on; some you bolt on; some you brush, and some you use plain old elbow grease.

Armor All has expanded its product portfolio lately, and at $12.99 a Rim Protectant is one of the new items. It is advertised as forming a “longer lasting protective barrier” that “repels brake dust, road grime and dirt.” The barrier lasts “up to four weeks, keeping your wheels clean from wash to wash,” according to Armor All. (Note that this product is called Armor All Wheel Protectant in the U.S.).

Application is simple, but it’s important to thoroughly clean your rims before using the product and allowing them to dry completely in order to get a good result. Soapy water and a soft brush will likely be required to remove stubborn brake dust and grime from the rims.

Once dry, the aerosol Armor All Rim Protectant is applied directly to each wheel, coating them with the clear solution. Using the entire can is not required. My 17-inch wheels were fully coated, leaving enough in the can for an estimated one or two more applications.

Armor All emphasizes that the newly treated rims should be left to dry for an hour before driving the vehicle, so plan ahead. The company also suggests that consumers don’t touch the newly treated rims before they dry, as this will reduce Rim Protectant’s effectiveness.

Following recommended directions, the actual application of Armor All Rim Protectant only takes a few minutes, but preparation and drying adds an hour or so.

The verdict? After close to 800 kilometres of driving, the rims on my car still look good. Brake dust has not built up on them, although a month on the road has caused the rims to look a little dull. Not bad, just not quite as bright as they did immediately after application. Still, it’s a notable improvement compared with leaving them untreated.

However, I haven’t washed the car since applying the product, and nor have I driven it in the rain. The company states that the product keeps your wheels clean, “from wash to wash,” which implies that if you wash the car, or if you drive it in rain, you’ll have to reapply the Rim Protectant – something to think about.

But when it does come time to wash the car, the Armor All-treated wheels are easier to clean.

Armor All has a nifty video on its web site that plays to the strains of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in the background. Presumably the Rim Protectant is effective in each of them? Those guys at Armor All are a cultured bunch.

Armor All Rim Protectant is available at your local automotive retailer or department store.

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