Polishing aluminum wheels sucks. Let's just get that out of the way. No one, and we do mean no one, enjoys polishing wheels. But we all love the end result of spending a few hours making a beat-up billet wheel look like new again. That new look doesn't last nearly as long as the work required to make it shiny each time, and that brought us to this month's Truckin Tough. If you have to polish your wheels, you should only use the best and to determine the best, we purchased six of the leading wheel polishes and got to work.
Using a well-taken-care-of Raceline 26-inch Blast billet wheel, we used each wheel polish for one wheel spoke and lip surface area. Masking each spoke in half provided a clear line of before and after results (one spoke was broken up into thirds). We then took a set of 12-year-old Boyd Coddington billet wheels that were absolutely thrashed and tried to bring them back to life using each type of wheel polish. With the results right smack in front of us, we also took into consideration price, size of container, ease of use, and availability. To level out the playing field, we also used a Mother's Power Cone polisher for each polish to see the results of elbow grease versus drill power. The winner will not only make your wheels look like new, but other aluminum parts such as engine, interior, and body accessories will benefit from a good polishing as well.
Mother's Billet Metal Polish $16.99
Formulated especially for high-quality billet wheels, the Mother's Billet Metal Polish did an incredible job bringing back the wheel's deep luster. Stains and brake pitting were no match for the polish, as it both cleaned and restored the wheel's brilliant shine. It did require some serious elbow grease, but as with most things in life, if it you want amazing results, you have to put in the work. Side by side with a brand-new wheel, it was hard to decipher which was old and which was new—the telltale sign of a great polish.
Mother's California Gold Metal Polish $7.49
From its California Gold line, the Mother's Metal Polish proved you can buy a quality wheel polish without breaking the bank. The largest container of polish tested (12 oz.), the California Gold formula put an incredible shine of the 12-year-old billet wheels and even cleaned up most of the heavy brake dust pitting, paint overspray, and oxidation. Perhaps its best attribute, the California Gold polish instantly starts to work once the towel hits the metal, which inspires confidence to really put some muscle into it.
Meguiar's All Metal Polish $8.99
Rounding out the podium finishers, the Meguiar's All Metal Polish did a good job of shining up the Raceline wheel and did an OK job of cleaning up the old Boyd Coddingtons. It took several passes for the polish to really start working into the metal, but once it did, the results were worth the effort. One thing we did appreciate about the Meguiar's polish is the smell, it wasn't super harsh like several others were and it actually had a nice fragrance.
Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream $6.99
Before we can talk about the Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream's performance, we'd be remiss to not mention the odor coming from the polish. Clearly marked on the packaging are the words "DO NOT BREATHE FUMES. Contains Ammonia." That warning is legit as we nearly vomited a few times when using the polish. Terrible smell aside, the polish did an average job on the 26-inch Blast wheel but did a better job on the thrashed older billets. Perhaps all of those chemicals work better on cleaning than actually polishing.
Turtle Wax Premium Grade Chrome and Metal Polish $6.49
Demoralized is how we felt after using the Turtle Wax Premium Grade Chrome and Metal Polish as it barely cut into the surface of the wheel. It didn't provide a deep clean and shine like the others and didn't turn the towel black until the last minute, which made us constantly check to see if it was really polishing the metal.
Eagle One Nevr-Dull Wadding Polish $6.99
Finishing dead-last is never a good thing, and for the Nevr-Dull Wadding Polish, we couldn't believe the results we ended up with. For the Raceline wheel, the Wadding Polish didn't return the mirror-like finish we got from the Mother's products and it made an insignificant improvement on the older billets. There were more negatives, such as the odor, mess, and difficult usage, than there were positives for this polish.