My wheel cleaner test, comparison and evalutation

Discussion in 'Pre Wash, Wash, Decon, Claying, Engine, Wheels, an' started by JoeyV, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. JoeyV

    JoeyV Welcome to Detailing

    The title pretty much sums it up, so let's cut to the chase!

    I have a set of Volk Racing C Ultra wheels that were fabricated in 1995. Since then, they have NEVER (Yes, I'm serious) been washed properly and sealed, meaning the have 16 years of brake dust build up on them. This was therefor the perfect platform to test out wheel cleaners on. I used 4 different cleaners, all on the SAME WHEEL, so there was an even, identical coating of brake dust all the way around.

    The contenders:

    -Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner
    -AutoGlym Custom Wheel Cleaner
    -Black Magic Titanium series Wheel Cleaner
    -Zep Citrus Degreaser;Diluted 4:1

    Let's move on to the evaluation of performance of each.

    Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner
    Price: $21.60 for 500 ml at Autowerkesexclusive

    First impression: bottle looks a little small, but hey, 500 ml is 500ml.

    Application: I sprayed it in 1 quarter of the wheels barrel and the smell immediately got to me. I almost puked as I was not expecting such nasal torture. It went on green, as expected.

    Work time:
    I let it dwell for 3 minutes (as I will with all the others). Nothing was happening and I didn't see any "bleeding". I then agitated it with a scrubbing brush and rinsed.

    Result: Removed some of the brake dust, I'd say maybe 30%.

    AutoGlym Custom Wheel Cleaner
    Price: $14.95 for 500 ml at Autowerkesexclusive. $12.99 for 500 ml at Canadian Tire

    First impression: I've been using this product for a while, so this wasn't my "first" impression. It sprays in foam which is good because it clings better IMO. Bottle looks nice.

    Application: Again I sprayed it in another corner of the wheel barrel and let it dwell.

    Work Time: From the get go, I could see it pulling grime off the barrel. I agitated it and the brush went black from everything it was removing.

    Result: Removed quite a bit of brake dust, approximately %60.

    Black Magic Titanium Series Wheel Cleaner
    Price: $9.99 at Canadian Tire ("cheap" OTC product)

    First Impression: I won't lie, I bought this because it was amongst the cheapest ones on the shelf when I began my product arsenal. Smell is nice, bottle looks semi-professional.

    Application: Sprayed and let it dwell for 3 minutes. It went on clear and with very little foam,but just with dwelling,it was pulling some grime off.

    Work Time: Once agitated, the brush slowly because brown-ish.

    Result: Once rinsed, approx 40%-45% had been removed.

    Zep Citrus Degreaser; Diluted 4:1
    Price: $11 for 1 gallon at Home Depot; when diluted, a 500 ml of diluted product costs about $0.25

    First Impression: Orange products always equal "clean" in the eyes of a client. Smell was nice.

    Application: Goes on like the Black magic, almost clear and little foam.

    Work Time: After 3 minutes of dwell time, agitation made the brush look exactly like the AG CWC.

    Result: Again, almost identical to the AG CWC. 59% just to say it wasn't %100 the same as AG CWC.

    Over-all best result:
    1st - AutoGlym Custom Wheel Ceaner
    2nd - Zep Citrus Degreaser; Diluted 4:1
    3rd - Black Magic Titanium Series Wheel Cleaner
    4th - Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner

    Even though the Zep was almost as good, the AutoGlym cleaned its section of the wheel the best. While being a very close second, keep in mind the Zep can be diluted in a higher concentration (3:1) to get a better cleaning result, so it needs to be retested. For a "crappy" OTC product, the Black Magic did really well in defending itself against big name players. I think it gets "Rookie-Of-The-Year Award". Lastly, with all the hype about Sonax, I was expecting MUCH more from it, especially at the astronomical price it costs compared to others.


    I highly suggest to everyone to get the Zep Citrus Degreaser and play around with it, you will all be surprised and happy with the results. It is by far the best bang for the buck, especially if your wheels are well maintained and are not as bad as the ones I tested on. If they are bad, I suggest getting AG CWC and cleaning with that first, sealing them and following up with the Zep as the gallon will last a VERY long time.


    This was an unbiased test conducted in my home by myself to get the best product for my money. The opinions suggested here in are solely mine and should be regarded as such. Some opinions may differ. I just wanted to give my input.

    P.S.: Thank you Richy for suggesting to Zep. :thumb:
  2. richy

    richy Guest

    Thanks for doing that test. I used to use the DG all wheel cleaner but you can't argue with the cost and effectiveness of Zep. If I need something stronger, I go to Megs WB or Carbrite wheel acid.
  3. kyoshiro

    kyoshiro DB Forum Supporter

    thing with Sonax FE is that it will not bleed unless theres iron. European cars are the main ones that use heavy iron brake pads so thus its effective but with japanese cars, the brake pads are mostly ceramic based thus doing little to nothing to clean the wheel.
    but yah good comparison for wheel cleaners nonetheless :)
  4. JoeyV

    JoeyV Welcome to Detailing

    I know it only bleeds when in contact with iron, I just figured after being with so many cars over the years, that it would've had SOME bleeding going on at least. However, that should not stop it from cleaning the wheel. After all, that IS its job :p

    And thanks! :) You too Richy.
  5. Nick.944

    Nick.944 Birth of a Detailer

    Great reviews! I have never used Zep how dose it compare to Megs APC+ they are about the same price here in the US.
  6. JoeyV

    JoeyV Welcome to Detailing

    Honestly, I couldn't tell you as I have never used the Meguairs APC. The only APC I have used is the one I'm content with...Simoniz. :lol:
  7. Chaseme

    Chaseme DB Forum Supporter

    Interesting results - thanks for doing the testing Joey!
  8. Socal Brian

    Socal Brian DB Forum Supporter

    Thanks Joey!
  9. Tire Shredder

    Tire Shredder Jedi Nuba

    keep in mind ZC isn't PH neutral like CWC! so nono on bare aluminum wheels
  10. JoeyV

    JoeyV Welcome to Detailing

    ^ Good Point! Should've mentioned that.
  11. Reflect

    Reflect DB Forum Supporter

    CWC isn't neutral either. It's rather high up on the alkaline scale. It is very safe, with only a wheel type or two that can't take it.

    Thanks for the review!
  12. JoeyV

    JoeyV Welcome to Detailing

    I think he meant "non-acid" :) but thanks for clarifying that even more. lol

    I should also mention that the Black Magic Titanium Series Wheel Cleaner IS Ph neutral, which also comes into consideration of it's performance. After all, it IS an OTC product that Mr. and Mrs. "Everyday" use. Not necessarily detailers, may they be hobbyist or professional.
  13. Upper Class Detailing

    Upper Class Detailing DB Pro Supporter

    Zep Citrus is non-acidic, isn't it? It contains citrus oil not citrus acid. Anyway, that's what I use for wheels at 1:3 ratio, no ill side effects for far. Actually I don;t use cleaners anymore, 'cause my rims are sealed now.
  14. Chaseme

    Chaseme DB Forum Supporter

    Correct me if I'm wrong but if something is citrus doesn't it generally mean it is also acidic?
  15. richy

    richy Guest

    look up the MSDS. It is on the alkaline end of the scale, not acidic. Still caustic, just in a different way. Brown Royal is the same, highly alkaline. Most soaps are alkaline based.
  16. HeavyD

    HeavyD DB Forum Supporter

    Thank You for that review Joey. Quite surprised at those results.
  17. Kilo6_one

    Kilo6_one DB Forum Supporter

    nice....... glad you threw a OTC product in the mix.
  18. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Thanks for the test Joey.
  19. detailersdomain

    detailersdomain Administrator

    thanks for the review...just a couple of questions.

    any pics?

    also you did the test on one wheel?

    didn't the products run into each other?
  20. kdude

    kdude Jedi Nuba

    Thanks Joey .. :)

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