Auto Finesse Imperial: The best ever non-acid alloy wheel cleaner for black rims?

Вlack rims are gaining in popularity all over the world. If you need to ask why you’ve probably clicked astray; they’re awesome. But, as they continue to attract glances from passers-by, so they continue to attract mud, grime and brake dust. The time has come to discover what, if anything, is the best non-acid alloy wheel cleaner to ensure that your black rims stay healthy with that just-off-the-back-of-the-truck shine. But first…

What is non-acid alloy wheel cleaner?

An excellent question. Quite simply, a non-acid alloy wheel cleaner is a product without any acid in it. The more acidic a cleaning solution is, the more dirt and grime it will remove from a surface, but the more likely it is to damage that surface. Non-acid cleaners will ideally have a neutral pH, or as close to it as possible. These cleaning solutions are much safer to use when cleaning your matte or gloss black rims, particularly matte finish rims, as black rims are more delicate than their chrome cousins, and pH neutral, water-based tire shine products will not damage the surface of your alloys over time.

What to look out for when choosing a cleaner for matte or gloss black rims

Auto Finesse Imperial cleaner

Auto Finesse Imperial cleaner

The most important thing to be aware of when choosing the best cleaner for your black rims is whether or not you can actually use it. All wheel cleaners are chemically different, and some will be appropriate for some materials and finishes, but not others. If you are in any doubt, contact the manufacturer to see if their product is safe to use to clean your rims.

Best wheel cleaning solutions chart


Water vs. waterless cleaners for black rims

Some cleaning solutions will need to be diluted with water before or rinsed with water after application. Waterless cleaners do not require this stage, and will save you time when cleaning your black rims. The best cleaner for your black rims may depend on your finish, though some are universal and therefore usable on other vehicles.

In this short review we can’t but mention the fact that sometimes we need to clean very special dut from our wheels. It can be tar or brake dust. Here is an updated review for such special cleaning solutions.

Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus

No.1 Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus is available in two sizes: A 500ml spray bottle ( model 230200) and a 750ml spray bottle (model 230400).

It is acid-free and suitable for all standard finishes on both steel and aluminium alloy black wheels, and what’s more, it is citrus scented. Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus requires a water rinse or pressure wash after application.

Ratings:

Effectiveness – 10/10

Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus is capable of handling any stains or marks when cleaning your black rims. The toughest stains may require a second application, but there is nothing this cleaner cannot handle.

Versatility – 7/10

As Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus only comes in spray bottle form, it is not ideal for multiple jobs, but it can be used on all standard wheel rims.

Value – 4/10

Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus is one of the most effective cleaning solutions in 2017 but also is  the most expensive of our choices. The spray bottle can be wasteful, and gets used up rather quickly. You will need to buy multiple bottles at a time to compensate for postage and packaging costs.

No-H2O Wheel-Kleen

No.2 No-H2O Wheel-Kleen is a waterless, non-acid bio-degradable all-purpose cleaner. It is safe for use on all standard materials and finishes of black rims. It is available in a 500ml spray bottle for a fair price.

No-H2O wheel cleaner kit

No-H2O wheel cleaner kit

Ratings:

Effectiveness – 9/10

No-H2O Wheel-Kleen is extremely effective on all residual marks you will generally find when cleaning your black rims.

Versatility – 10/10

No-H2O Wheel-Kleen can be used as a multi-purpose cleaner for your entire vehicle, or indeed any other industrial purposes. It is environmentally friendly, and will not strip lacquer or damage brake lines.

Value – 6/10

No-H2O Wheel-Kleen has relatively good value. However, as it is a waterless cleaner, it also is environmentally friendly and time-efficient, as no rinsing is needed after cleaning your black rims.

Auto Finesse Imperial – our best choice

Auto Finesse Imperial non-acid wheel cleaner

Auto Finesse Imperial non-acid wheel cleaner

No.3 Auto Finesse Imperial wheel cleaner is available in a 500ml spray bottle, and a 1l  and 5l  concentrate capped bottles. The spray bottle is diluted to the recommended concentration of 1 part solution to 10 parts water, so spending the extra pennies on the 1l concentrate solution will give you 20 times the amount of diluted product.

Imperial is safe for use on all regular wheel finishes, is non-acidic, contains degreasing agents and is wheel sealant friendly. Auto Finesse Imperial wheel cleaner is not waterless, and does require a rinse stage after cleaning your black rims.

Ratings:

Effectiveness – 9/10

Auto Finesse Imperial wheel cleaner does an excellent job of cleaning grime, dirt and brake dust from black rims. Can be used to clean dirty and pitted rims.

Versatility – 8/10

Auto Finesse Imperial wheel cleaner can be used on all standard finishes of black rims. It can be diluted to 1:20 for particularly fragile or well-maintained surfaces, and is gentle enough that it can be used on tires. The concentrate solution can be diluted to just 1:2 if you have a particularly heavy cleaning job.

Value – 10/10

Buying Auto Finesse Imperial wheel cleaner in its concentrate form is extremely economical. Opting for the recommended 1:10 dilution of the 5l bottle works out at just under £0.50 per litre, making it the cheapest of our options.

Read our latest review of the best wheel cleaners for black painted and powder coated wheels.

Consumer responses to the best non-acid alloy wheel cleaners

In general there is no negative feedback on the performance of any of our reviewed non-acid alloy wheel cleaners, however be wary when buying value packs from Amazon offering extra brushes or other free items, as many people found they had to chase up these offers.

So… Is Auto Finesse Imperial the best ever non-acid alloy wheel cleaner for black rims?

In a word… yes. We found Auto Finesse Imperial to be the best option for cleaning black alloy wheel rims. It’s excellent value makes up for other areas in which it admittedly also performs admirably. We found Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner Plus to be the best at cleaning black rims, but too wasteful and expensive. No-H2O Wheel Kleen was versatile and the easiest to use, so if time is your priority look no further, but for us, it’s got to be the Auto Finesse Imperial, every time. We should also mention the fact, that you can easily achieve good results (in some cases) while using homemade wheel cleaners, based on vinegar.

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