Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra: How to Clean Your Wheels

This article outlines the method to efficiently cleaning the wheels on your Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma or Tundra.

By Charlie Gaston - January 27, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra (1984-present).

Let's face it. The wheels on a pickup truck can get pretty dirty. From packed-on mud and other unsightly road debris to actual physical surface damage, such as small holes caused by corrosion, it's not uncommon for the wheels on your Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma or Tundra to bare the brunt of the damage and contamination experienced as you go from point A to point B. This is why you'll want to carefully inspect your wheels every 5,000 miles or have your mechanic do so at each tire rotation. In the meantime, here's how to effectively clean the wheels on your truck.

Toyota How to Clean Wheels infographic

Materials Needed

  • Oven cleaner
  • Standard polish
  • Water or professional automotive lubricant
  • 600-, 1,000-, 2,000-, and 2,500-grit sandpaper
  • Rust-Oleum/Aircraft spray remover
  • Simple Green, Purple Power, or WD-40
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Power washer (if accessible)

Step 1 – Clean and polish mildly pitted wheels

When it comes to cleaning and polishing aluminum wheels, you have a number of options. Believe it or not, you can use an oven cleaner to do the job. Simply spray and remove as directed. As well, you can use a standard mag and aluminum polish, such as the one offered by Mothers Gold, with or without the use of a high-grit (fine) sandpaper for advanced smoothing action. When using sandpaper, be sure to dampen the sandpaper with water or a professional automotive lubricant. Doing so will protect the integrity of your wheels and prevent scratching.

pits in wheel
Figure 1. Do you see pits in your wheels?

Pro Tip

  • For major pitting, apply a good etching mag wheel cleaner spray, such as the one offered by Eagle One. Allow the product to work for several minutes, or as directed, and then remove it.

Step 2 – Remove the old clear coat

  • Grab a can of Rust-Oleum/Aircraft spray remover and apply several coats to your wheels.
  • Starting with 600-grit sandpaper, begin sanding off the old clear coat using an even back and forth motion.
  • Work your way up to 2,000-grit sandpaper; this time, switch to a standard mag and aluminum polish.
  • Add a new clear coat once you've stripped away the old and completely polished your wheels.
  • Finish the job by moving on to your tires, which can be cleaned with a professional-grade product such as Simple Green or Purple Power and a quality scrub brush.
  • Soap and water or WD-40 will also suffice.
  • Scrub until all deposits are lifted off the tire.
  • You can also use a power washer to do the job.
scrubbing tire
Figure 2. Finish the job by thoroughly scrubbing your tires.

Step 3 – Visit a professional refinisher (optional)

Make an appointment to have your Toyota truck refinished by a professionally-trained refinisher. Generally speaking, this sort of service should be left for more difficult jobs where advanced pitting is present.

Get the rims professionally refinished
Figure 3. Professional refinishers offer a range of services.

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