Dirty hubcaps stick out like a sore thumb. How do they become so dirty in the first place? The fact that they’re so close to the ground is partially the cause. The primary factor, though, is the brake dust that emanates from the brake pad.
Brake dust consists of grayish-black particles that coat the tires and hubcaps. When the iron brake rotor grinds against the brake pads, small shavings of the metal end up on the hubcaps. The dust is essentially a combination of iron and carbon residue.
While brake dust residue on your wheels is an eyesore, it is normal and not indicative of anything wrong with the brakes.
Most factory-installed brake pads are made from metal. However, you can upgrade to aftermarket pads made from ceramic. These pads still produce dust, but is light-colored, so it’s almost invisible to the naked eye. You may also reduce brake dust by installing dust shields that go on the back of the wheels.
Brake dust is corrosive and can eat into the clear coating of aluminum alloy surfaces. This is why we highly recommend a vehicle detail that includes a thorough tire cleaning. A full restoration includes the wheels.
Some car owners may try to remove the dust using the typical hose and bucket with a sponge and liquid soap. This usually suffices, but may not always be effective, depending on the hubcaps’ coating and finish. You may also not be able to fully remove brake dust that has been collecting undisturbed on the surface for a while.
Edited by Justin Vorhees
Serving Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mill Creek and Woodway