Wheel cleaning is for many people one of the less pleasant aspects of detailing.
As a pro detailer, I know that a large part of this unpleasantness is using wheel cleaners that are not up to the task.
To overcome this problem, there are few better wheel cleaners than Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel. With active fallout removes, this wheel cleaner can be used for touchless cleaning of lightly soiled wheels or for heavy-duty cleaning of neglected wheels.
I tested Bilt Hamber Auto-Wheel in the real world to see how it performed against my criteria. It scored 8.2 / 10 overall which is a good result.
Read on to find out more about how it performed.
Prepmycar Rating: 8.2 / 10
Bilt Hamber Auto-Wheel – Testing Process
Auto-wheel is a product that I have used for a good while now. I tested it on several different wheel types for the test, including gloss black and diamond cut.
To really test the product, I did a contactless wash on the gloss wheels, to see how much contamination could be removed by just spraying the wheel and rinsing. For the other wheels I first pre-rinsed the wheels with the pressure washer before applying the product and agitating with various wheel brushes.
Iron Fallout Removal
A great feature of Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel is the active fallout remover ingredients, that turns ferrous particles pink and makes them water soluble. ‘Brake dust’ is often made up of the ferrous braking material from brake pads which can become embedded onto the alloys and cause corrosion.
Testing saw a good amount of brake dust removed by this product. Using an active fallout remover such as Auto-wheel regularly will prevent this from happening.
For the majority of wheels that I have cleaned, Auto-wheel is more than adequate to remove the brake dust, in fact for coated or regularly cleaned wheels this product may even be overkill. There have been a few occasions where I have had to use a stronger acid based cleaner, but these are rare occasions.
Spraying the product on the wheel and agitating with a detailing brush will leave most wheels looking well. It also performs well in the barrels which frequently have a greater build up of dust, using a wheel brush such as the EZ Detail brush will make cleaning this area much easier.
Spray then Rinse
The fallout remover in this wheel cleaner will be activated without any agitation, so the product will start to ‘bleed’. A few minutes after applying the product I rinsed it to inspect how much brake dust had been removed.
This showed good results and there was a definite improvement, more so than rinsing alone would. There were several spots however where brake dust build ups had not been shifted, highlighting the need for a contact wash. On lightly soiled, frequently cleaned wheels, spraying and rinsing this product would likely be sufficient.
As mentioned, Auto-wheel contains active fallout remover within the wheel cleaner. Auto-wheel is also noticeably more viscous than other wheel cleaners and comes out as more of a gel. This is a handy feature, as it allows for a greater dwell time, giving more effective cleaning.
Despite containing active fallout remover, the smell of this wheel cleaner is not repugnant or harsh.
Value for Money
Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel is sold ready to use, meaning it cannot be diluted with water. This puts it at a slight disadvantage from a price point of view compared to many other wheel cleaners. With that said, this is in my opinion the best ready-to-use wheel cleaner and I have not used one that has come close in terms of performance or price for that matter.
The amount of product needed will depend on how soiled the wheels are. For the very dirty wheels, I used 10 sprays to cover the entire wheel, which I measured to be about 10ml of product.
As this was for the purpose of testing the touchless capability of the cleaner, this was more than would normally be used. 5 sprays would be enough to clean a wheel if detailing brushes are also used to agitate the cleaner.
That means 20ml would be needed for all four wheels, a 1000ml bottle usually costs in the region of £15.00 ($16.79 USD) meaning approximately 30p ($0.33 USD) worth of product would be used, which is not bad value at all.
Something I have always liked about Bilt Hamber is their bottles, or more specifically the triggers. The triggers are well made and do not degrade because of the chemical.
I would however like the trigger heads to have a broader spray pattern. Bilt Hamber released new branding in 2020, the new bottles are cylindrical and opaque, whereas the older style bottle was more rectangular and translucent.
Both the old and new bottle styles are easy to hold and I have found the newer bottle to be less prone to tipping over.
About Bilt Hamber
Bilt Hamber is a well-respected manufacturer of detailing and surface technologies. Based in Essex, United Kingdom, they have put great time and research into producing products that perform well at a cost-effective price. Other popular products include Surfex HD and Double Speed wax.
Can Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel be used on paint?
Auto-wheel is safe to use on painted surfaces as stated by the company themselves. With that said they do make a specific fallout remover called Korrosol, which is less viscous and easier to spray on the surface.
Can Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel be diluted?
No, Auto-wheel is ready to use, adding water will diminish performance. The makeup of Auto-wheel has been designed to use ready out of the bottle and, unlike a lot of Bilt Hamber products, should not be diluted for this reason.
Is Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel an acidic wheel cleaner?
No, it is non-acid and non-alkaline, making it PH Neutral. However, the product works in much the same way as an acidic wheel cleaner would, which is a testament to the boffins at Bilt Hamber.
Bilt Hamber Auto-Wheel – Final Thoughts
Bilt Hamber Auto-wheel has certainly earned the reputation of a reliable wheel cleaner, popular with enthusiasts and professionals alike. The fallout removing element of Auto-wheel makes the process of cleaning wheels much easier, and I particularly like the gel-like format of this product which makes cleaning effortless.
This product is perfect for enthusiast detailers, it is cost-effective compared to other ready to use cleaners, and there is no need to worry about dilution ratios. From a professional context, Auto-wheel is certainly still a product worthy of consideration, but from my own experience, I would likely choose a product that could be diluted to offer better value.
For a more in-depth guide on how to clean allow wheels, check out this article.