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Removing Rust on Steel Wheels

by Linda Ray

Why

Allowing rust to remain on steel bicycle, truck or automobile wheels not only denigrates the look of the vehicle, it can eventually wear through the steel, leaving holes that are not repairable. Rust weakens the structure of the steel and can leave wheels vulnerable to bending and warping. Prevent serious accidents by removing rust from wheels when it appears. While removing rust on steel wheels may take some time and effort, it will be worth it to save your investment and to make a ride more presentable. Watch for beginning signs of rust when washing the wheels. It is much easier to remove small flakes of rust than to refurbish a badly rusted wheel with layers of thick corrosion.

Polish

There are polishes available that can remove light rust. Evapor-Rust and Magica are two potions that claim to remove rust simply by rubbing them on with a dry cloth and allowing the rust remover to do the work. Prepare to rub a little harder with rust remover, however. Wear rubber or thick cotton gloves to apply rust remover. Work on a small section at a time. Work the gel or liquid into the spot with your fingers, then follow with a steel brush or light steel wool. The remover can loosen the rust to make it easier to scrub off. Rinse and dry once you can see through the rust to the original steel. Complete the process on every section.

Organic

For those who prefer not to use chemicals and are looking for more natural products to remove rust, some people use molasses or vinegar as rust-removing agents. Mix molasses with water, using one part molasses to 10 parts water, in a large tub. Take the wheel off the car or bike and immerse it in the fluid. Leave it soak and watch for the rust to fall away. Light rust dissolves in a couple days, while a heavily rusted wheel may take up to a week. Straight vinegar applied to a rusty area also has proven effective. Soak the wheel in straight vinegar or apply vinegar to a spot using a sponge. Let it sit and wipe off.

Sanding

Use a flexible sanding wheel to grind off tough rust from steel wheels. Sanders that can convert to use wire brushes make fast work of removing rust. Remove the wheels before sanding to avoid getting dust into any mechanical crevices that could clog up the operation. Wear protective eye gear to avoid getting dust and metal chips in your eyes. Small tools made especially for rust removal, such as Dremel tools, can be used to reach small crevices on the wheel. Finish the job with hand sanding using light steel wool.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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Photo Credits

  • John evans