Preserving Your Wheels

I have mixed feelings about the California Duster. Over the years, it has been very helpful to me on Mercedes painted my color of choice—silver-grey metallic. When I lived in the city, it was an essential tool. Limited access to running water made it very difficult for this Manhattanite to clean his car, so I did everything I could to keep the surface clean between washings. Yes, the Duster likely scratched the paint a bit, even when it had plenty of wax, but I had little choice.

On a black car though, I've experienced streaks and light scratching that were not detectable on lighter colors like silver, so I've made it a policy not to touch my black Cabriolet with a Duster.

The one exception: the front wheels. Like most Mercedes, the front alloys on my Cabriolet tend to accumulate a pretty noticeable amount of brake dust after just one drive. Mercedes brake pads can be soft, so this is an ongoing issue if you use the factory pads.

The California Duster has been a terrific way to keep the wheels reasonably clean after each drive. Just give both front wheels a quick pass with the Duster, then give it a vigorous shake to release the dirt just collected (always a safe distance from the car and outside the garage), and your wheels will be free from that nasty black residue that can get baked into the wheels if they're neglected.

Does it leave tiny scratches in the surface? Probably,  but I can't detect them. Would I ever use that same Duster on the paint? Never. It's relegated purely to wheel duty.

Most everything about maintaining a car is a tradeoff, so I accept some deterioration over time in appearance and functionality. I don't expect wheels to last forever without being refinished, particularly the delicate factory machine finish on the W124 8-slot alloy wheel. My solution is to prolong the lifespan of the finish by keeping brake dust to a minimum with this simple $20 accessory found in most car parts stores.