How to Clean Wheel Wells and Protect Them

This article may contain affiliate links. For details, visit our Affiliate Disclosure page. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Last Updated on 1 year by Ollie Barker

How to Clean Wheel Wells and Protect Them

Wheel wells are usually neglected when it comes to car washing or detailing. But if not properly cared for, they can be a breeding ground for dirt, grime, and of course bugs! So, how to clean wheel wells and protect them?

I’m here to help you keep your wheel wells clean and protected. Follow these easy steps to learn how to wash them effectively without harming the paint on the outside of your car.

What Is the Wheel Well of a Car?

The wheel well is the space that can be found below the front and rear axles on both front and rear wheel drive vehicles. It is basically a space where the tire and wheel are housed in a car. A wheel well is normally rectangular, but it may vary in size depending on the design of a certain model.

Check out: How to clean car tires like a professional!

Types Of Wheel Well Lining

The wheel well lining may differ between different cars. A wheel well liner is used to help protect the wheel well on the car from dirt, grime, and moisture. These liners are usually made out of one or more of the following materials.


It can be made out of other plastics such as vinyl or neoprene, but usually, the wheels are kept in plastic whenever it is easy to wash and maintain.


Rubber is a good choice because it helps lock the moisture from the inside of the wheel well, which prevents rusting and deterioration.


This is another material that can be used as a lining in order to prevent rusting.


A wheel well liner made out of fiberglass is often molded into 3D shapes so that it can fit snugly around the wheel well without causing any friction or abrasion.

My Car Doesn’t Have Wheel Well Liners?

If you find your car doesn’t have wheel well liners, it isn’t a manufacturer’s mistake. As wheel well liners are not standard, some producers do not include them in their models, even for SUVs and trucks.

If you hate hearing rock chips noise, you can buy wheel well liners and install them yourself.

How To Clean Wheel Wells

You can use different soap to clean wheel wells depending on what smell you want such as All-Purpose Cleaner, Simple Green, or Car Wash Concentrate. Here are the steps I use on my car:

Step 1: Grab All Purpose Cleaner and pour it in a bucket with warm water. Disinfect it by using your diluted bleach solution. Once done with this step, drain the water completely.

Step 2: Dip your wheel well brush into the water and scrub the wheel wells. Do not scrub too hard, as you may damage the paint job on your car.

Step 3: After cleaning, dry the wheel well using a clean towel or chamois.

Bonus Step: If your alloy wheels are dirty or if you want to clean them more effectively, you can submerge them in a cleaner solution containing a good amount of car washing soap and water.

Step 4: You can use a cleaning brush to scrub the wheel well.

Step 5: Wipe the wheel with a clean, dry cloth. Make sure you wipe the alloy wheels and other visible areas, as grease and grime can build up over time.

How To Protect Wheel Wells

If you have waxes or carnauba waxes, they are good for protecting your wheels. Just apply them on your wheels using an applicator pad and a microfiber towel. Let it dry and repeat the application until you get the result you want.

Alternative Wheel Well Protection

In case you can’t find the wheel wells you want, there are several options you can choose to protect your wheel wells.

Rubber Undercoating

Undercoating is a very popular material used to protect wheel wells for lots of different reasons. These undercoating can range from one-component, two-component, or three-component formulations.

The main advantage of using rubber undercoating is that it prevents moisture from reaching the car’s wooden parts, which is highly effective in protecting a car against rotting. Also, it helps prevent rust from forming inside the wheel wells by locking off the moisture.

Rubber undercoating can come in a spray form so it can be easily and directly applied on any wheel liner material. Yet, you need to reapply it quite often.

Spray-On Bed Liners

If you like the idea of using a spray-on, you can go for spray-on bed liners. These are basically plastic resins that are sprayed on the inside of a wheel well and allowed to dry. Then, this material is usually molded into place so it fits snugly.

Spray-on bed liners are effective because they prevent rust by acting like a shield that protects the wheel well and keeps moisture from corroding your car’s wooden parts.

However, there are some drawbacks of spray-on bed liners:

  • Need to be applied often, as they wear off easily due to regular usage
  • It’s hard to get an even finish
  • Hard to remove

How To Install Wheel Well Liners


The first step in installing wheel well liners is making sure that your car has nothing covering the wheel wells already. In some cases, there might be plastic parts installed over the wheel wells that prevent you from installing wheel well liners. These pieces should be removed first.

If necessary, you may decide to remove the part that covers your wheel wells for the time being. You can use a knife or even screwdrivers to remove these pieces from the wheel wells.

Proceed with Installing Liners

However, there are some parts that you can’t remove because they are integrated into the car’s design. In my car, I found out that the wheel wells were made out of plastic, and they don’t have any metal pieces to protect them. So if this is the case with your car, you wouldn’t need to remove anything.

Measure your wheel wells and buy wheel well liners. You should use this opportunity to measure the width and length of your wheel wells to ensure that your wheel well liners fit correctly.

The first step in installing your liners is marking the appropriate location on the wheel well. You can use some masking tape and a marker to do this properly.

Just measure the distance from each side of your wheel wells until they meet at the middle.

Next, you are ready to install your liners in their respective locations.

You can use a contoured tip or a sharp object tool, like a knife or screwdriver, to mark the shape of your wheel liner on your wheel well.


#1 How Do I Keep My Wheel Wells Black?

You can use a dressing, paint, or undercoating to keep wheel wells black. Each method has its own advantages. You can use your own favorite dressing to prevent wheel wells from fading or discoloring.

#2 Do Wheel Wells Rust?

Yes, wheel wells do rust and they look horrible. Vehicle manufacturers consider the fact that you are likely to be driving your car every day, so it would be better to have a good-looking wheel well liner than a rusty one.

#3 How Do I Keep My Wheel Well From Rusting?

The best way to prevent your wheel wells from rusting is to coat them with a protective sealant. This prevents additional moisture from forming and building up in the wheel well. You can coat your wheel well with spray-on protectants, like waxes and silicone, or even with paint or undercoating materials.

Waxes, like carnauba waxes, are some of the most popular materials used to prevent rust from forming in the first place for a long time.

Final Words

In short, car wheel wells do get dirty and have a tendency to rust. You have to keep them clean for your wheels to stay looking great and safe. As you can see in this guide, wheel well protection is not easy, but it’s definitely possible.

Check out: How to make your own wheel chocks!

If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends! Thank you.