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Best wheel brushes 2019: group test

Which is the best wheel brush to loosen hard-to-reach grime? We look at nine top buys

Like wheel cleaners, these products need to be tough enough to shift the baked-on grime, but not so aggressive that they damage the lacquer. The best also have to be able to reach the inner rim and between spokes. 

So which is the one to clean up when the going gets tough? We got down and dirty with eight of the best wheel brushes to find out.

How we tested them

At the heart of this test is cleaning. We checked the bristles would not marr paintwork and that handles would not scratch, plus tried the products on an alloy wheel with a mix of wide and narrow spokes. 

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The outside of the wheel was cleaned, then we checked the extent the inner rim could be reached and whether we could get round the bolts. We also tackled ingrained, long-term dirt on a neglected inner rim. 

Hand comfort was key, as often a lot of pressure had to be applied. As well as cleaning performance, we looked for good build quality and practicality, and balanced everything against the price from online sources.

Verdict

It’s a win for Muc-Off’s Two Prong brush, which edges victory from the company’s previous test winner, the Wheel & Component Brush. ValetPro remains a pricey but worthy alternative to our top two brushes.

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  1. 1. Muc-Off Two Prong Brush
  2. 2. Muc-Off Wheel & Component Brush
  3. 3. ValetPro Long Reach Wheel Brush

Reviews

Muc-Off Two Prong Brush

Price: Around £6Rating: 5 stars

The name comes from the two metal loops of bristles, which provide wide and narrow sides – useful for slipping through gaps. They’re tough, too, resisting quite a bit of force before any sign of flexing. And that force is easy to apply because the handle has well shaped dual compounds for easy grip. 

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Although the brush couldn’t reach as far across the inner rim as some rivals here, it was pretty effective. But on our black rims it was all too easy to see the bristle marks left in the grime once the wheel had dried, and they took a fair bit of extra brushing to remove. Even so, the Muc-Off hangs on to its crown thanks to the way it coped with the broken lacquer. It feels like it would be part of your kit for years, while you have to ask how long any sponge brushes would last.

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Muc-Off Wheel & Component Brush

Price: Around £12Rating: 4.5 stars

The longest choice here, with the combined brush, shaft and solid wooden handle totalling 16 inches. Despite this length, it was surprisingly solid and able to clean plenty of the inner rim from the outside. Working directly on the inside of the rim, we were able to apply decent pressure to rediscover the pristine aluminium, plus it reached the spoke castings. The brush compressed itself enough to clean the smaller spokes. Yet the price hurts it in this test.

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ValetPro Long Reach Wheel Brush

Price: Around £12Rating: 4.5 stars

The longest choice here, with the combined brush, shaft and solid wooden handle totalling 16 inches. Despite this length, it was surprisingly solid and able to clean plenty of the inner rim from the outside. Working directly on the inside of the rim, we were able to apply decent pressure to rediscover the pristine aluminium, plus it reached the spoke castings. The brush compressed itself enough to clean the smaller spokes. Yet the price hurts it in this test.

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Hygan LH Oval Alloy Cleaner

Price: Around £3Rating: 4 stars

Better known for its cleaning products used in the production of ceramics, Hygan has two tools for wheels – an oval version and a round design of the same width. We opted for the oval design, but you could have both for the price of its rival here. While the handle wasn’t as high quality as the Muc-Off’s, it was comfortable and the brush was easy to work around the rim. At 32cm long, it could easily squeeze past the caliper to the inner rim. 

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Where it really scored was in how quickly it lifted away the grime; it required far fewer passes than the bristle brush to give a clean finish. The tip easily slipped through narrow gaps in the spokes and made a good job of the wheel bolts. There was no sign of wear after cleaning four wheels, but on our rough rim the tip started to lose small pieces. Great cleaning, but really only for good surfaces.

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Autoglym Hi-Tech Wheel Brush

Price: Around £12Rating: 4 stars

The Autoglym looks like a giant paintbrush and worked well, but requires a different cleaning method. Its USP is that it can be used to ‘stipple’ the dirt away, which it did to great effect everywhere, especially around wheel bolts. Working on the inner edges of the spokes was more tricky, as we had to use the side of the brush. The handle is light, but could do with a grippy surface or finger holds. As with several rivals, a high price overshadowed its strong performance. 

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Armor All Luxury Alloy Wheel Brush

Price: Around £6Rating: 4 stars

This is clearly similar to the Muc-Off Component brush; the shorter, rubber handle with finger grips sets it apart. It was light enough to be wieldy but sufficiently heavy and stiff not to bend with pressure. It easily cleaned up the inner rim and larger spokes, but couldn’t get between the smaller ones. A good choice for larger-spoked wheels. 

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Sonax Wheel Brush

Price: Around £6Rating: 3.5 stars

There are no bristles on the Sonax; rather it’s a shaped plastic tube with a tough, microfibre weave cover. But it worked well on the outer wheel, cleaning the face, larger spokes and especially the smaller ones. It was also effective on the inside, even getting into the spoke castings. We just wonder how much hard work that cover would take, plus the hexagonal handle dug in.

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Quixx Wheel Cleaning Brush QWCB1

Price: Around £21Rating: 3 stars

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The Quixx looks like an orange porcupine. You fit it to its six-inch spindle then to a cordless drill, set to low speed. The supplied goggles are essential, but with the right technique it proved efficient, especially with smaller spokes. Inside the wheel, even baked-on grime on balance weights didn’t worry it. Weird and wacky, and keen car cleaners could justify its price. 

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ValetPro Twisted Long Reach Wheel Brush

Price: Around £14Rating: 3 stars

Another long reach, at 14 inches or so. The plastic handle has no grips, but a rubber circle protects fingers. The light spindle and flexible brush easily got into smaller spokes and through to the inner rim. But as it’s so flexible and light, pressure is needed to lift dirt; your hands soon ache. And pressing hard meant the brush bent, rather than cleaned more. Good for light work.

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Now you know which wheel brush is the best, why not find out which is the best wheel cleaner by reading our group test?

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