TAROX and cleaning specialist Autoglym join forces to investigate the effects of chemical wheel cleaners on hard anodised alloy components. Read on before you wash your car
From our very first caliper in 1992 TAROX have always believed anodising rather than powder coating to be the optimum finish for alloy brake calipers. As a standard, TAROX calipers are Hard anodised. This is a process that has multiple benefits and additional weight is negligable as the process only adds 50 microns of substrate (0.05mm). The coating actually becomes integral to the alloy ensuring it cannot flake off or chip. Hard anodising actually toughens the original alloy bringing surface strength closer to that of tooled steel.As successful as the hard anodizing process has been for TAROX, colour options are limited. To achieve the great colours now on offer such as the candy red and satin blue a less tough, regular anodising process is required. Regular anodising still uses the same process of penetrating the metal to achieve a bright colour, however the boded substrate is not as thick nor as durable and requires more thoughtful cleaning.
To ensure TAROX customers ensure their coloured calipers stay in top condition we teamed up with world renowned British car care specialist Autoglym to see just how much using the wrong type of wheel cleaner can harm beautifully anodised surfaces.
With a pair of our most popular caliper and colour combo – B32-6 piston in red sent to the very impressive lab facilities at Autoglym the results were surprising!
Now for the science…
One half of an anodised TAROX caliper was immersed for two hours in an unnamed, orange-coloured acidic wheel cleaning solution. In common with most other liquids in this market, it has a pH value of 1 and a chemical composition based around hydrochloric acid and surfactants to help remove stubborn dirt from the surface. The other caliper half was also immersed for the same length of time in Autoglym’s non-caustic, alkali-based and totally clear Custom Wheel Cleaner. It has a pH value of 12, which is roughly equivalent to oven cleaning solution in terms of alkaline content and safe enough to use on delicate surfaces such as chrome and anodised finishes.
After being soaked for two hours, each caliper was removed from its respective cleaning liquid, rinsed thoroughly in pH neutral water and dried before being visually assessed. In that respect it was immediately obvious how much damage the acid-based cleaner had wreaked on the anodised caliper. The area that had been immersed was discoloured, revealing a milky appearance with no glossy sheen across the surface. What’s more, the engraved letters that had been submerged had also suffered, with some of the metal around the edges of these characters having been dissolved.
The TAROX caliper that had been immersed in Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner, however, showed no sign of damage whatsoever. The red anodised surface had retained its surface gloss and original colouring, and the engraved letters were equally unaffected. It was as if the test hadn’t even been conducted! As with any scientific experiment to ensure this was not a one off Autoglym carried out the test in exactly the same way with the other caliper from the pair. The second caliper also emerged from the test unscathed.
While acid and alkali based cleaners are safe enough for public use, they are not suitable for use on all vehicle components. Anodised alloy products may be able to resist the harsh chemicals of acid-based cleaners for a very short period of time but continued use will inevitably lead to visible damage and degredation of the anodised surface.
On the other hand, repeated cleaning of products with a non-caustic, alkali-based liquid such as Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner will not cause any damage to an anodised surface.
TAROX recommends Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner as the best cleaning product for all vehicles equipped with its anodised alloy brake calipers and two-piece brake discs with anodised alloy hubs.