Alongside everyday grit, brake dust is probably the single biggest factor is tarnishing your alloys. This is because brake dust can be corrosive to the paint and lacquer protecting your alloys, but it is also produced regularly as a result of the friction between brake discs and pads. Whilst it sounds harmless, brake dust is made up of metal filings, carbon fibres and acidic adhesive residues and can hit the alloys at very high temperatures.
Because of this, corrosion to your alloys is inevitable and they will need to be refurbished, however there are inexpensive ways you can prolong the life of your alloys and therefore reduce how often they need to be refurbished.
Regular washing is key to reducing the effects of brake dust and maintaining your alloys. We recommend that you try to wash your wheels once a week, this may seem like a lot but once etching sets in you’ll be fighting a losing battle, so it’s best to keep on top of washing off the brake dust and grit. Avoid using dedicated alloy wheel cleaners and abrasive cleansers like wire wool, these can very well cause as much harm as good in the long run, car-wash wheel cleaners can also strip the lacquer and paint away through their jet washing. The best method for cleaning your wheels is really the most simple, hose the wheels down to remove the loose abrasive grit and then wash down with warm, mildly soapy water using a non-abrasive cloth or sponge.
Less frequent waxing also helps to protect the paint and lacquer, prolonging the life of your alloys. Here, it is more useful to use dedicated alloy wax, though remember to apply it non-abrasively!
Those are two very easy, cheap and effective ways of maintaining the quality and life of your alloy wheels.