The Sonax Wheel Cleaner being used to clean the wheel of a vehicle.

Why take your vehicle to a car wash when the right wheel cleaner can allow you to do a more thorough clean than even professional equipment can? This is where the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner comes in. Whether you’re looking to clean chrome, aluminum, steel, or a range of other alloy wheels, there’s only one thing to say about the Sonax Wheel Cleaner – it works.

The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner is pH-neutral and features a color-changing formula that reacts with iron particles, however, it is not an iron remover like Iron X is. It should be noted that this product conveniently comes ready to use and you won’t need to dilute it with water.

Sonax Wheel Cleaner Overview And Features

Pros Color-changing formula reacts with iron particles Safe to use on a variety of wheel finishes Effectively dissolves brake dust
Cons Leaves contaminants on brake pads making them ineffective for a short period of time

Product Specs

  • Cost: Around $15
  • Product dimensions: 3.5 by 2.25 by 9.0 inches
  • pH-neutral and acid-free
  • Ready to use with no dilution required
  • Color-changing formula
  • Safe to use on most wheel surfaces

Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner Testing Process

An image of a wheel before using the Sonax Wheel Cleaner.

The testing process of the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner involved applying the product to all four wheels of our nearly 20-year-old testing vehicle while observing its performance against the following criteria:

  • Ease of use: Wheel cleaners shouldn’t be difficult to apply. We noted how easy it was to apply this product fully across a wheel surface.
  • Cleaning: We applied the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner on our testing vehicle’s wheel rim and rubbed the toughest bits of road grime with a wheel brush. We then rinsed the wheels off and dried them with a microfiber towel, noting how effectively the product cleaned our wheels.
  • Shine: Following our wheel cleaning process, we observed whether or not the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner left the wheels with a bright shine. After determining whether the product left any shine at all, we then noted how much shinier the testing vehicle’s wheels were.

An image of a wheel after using the Sonax Wheel Cleaner.

What We Like About The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner

Simply put, there’s a lot to like about the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner. In terms of ease of use, the spray bottle made it easy to apply the product evenly across the wheel surface. In regard to the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner’s cleaning efficiency, we couldn’t be happier. Although this product is acid-free, it dissolved brake dust and other buildup at the level of an acid-based formula.

What wasn’t dissolved by the wheel cleaner was easily removed by using the TTRCB Car Detailing Kit from our review of the Best Car Wash Brushes. In terms of shine, we found the Sonax Wheel Cleaner compared favorably to products specifically designed for shining wheels.

Our team also loved the fact that we didn’t need to dilute the formula. The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner was ready to go straight out of the box. Another feature our team liked is the color-changing formula that allows you to quickly remove iron particles, gunk, and road grime in real time.

What We Don’t Like About The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner

One thing we don’t like about the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner is its tendency to cause problems with braking. Issues may arise when you spray this on your brake rotors, which is nearly unavoidable if you want to evenly coat your wheels. Our team member claimed he felt a bit of trouble braking, but the difference was nearly unnoticeable.

However, other customers claim they had more serious issues with stopping their car. We recommend exercising caution when driving for the first time after applying this product, especially when braking.

Sonax Wheel Cleaner Reviews

The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner has over 5,000 customer reviews on Amazon. The vast majority of reviewers, 86 percent, rate this non-acid wheel cleaner 4 stars or higher. On the other hand, only 3 percent of reviewers rate this wheel cleaning product 1 out of 5 stars.

Positive Sonax Reviews

Customers who left positive feedback for the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner laud its effectiveness when compared to other wheel cleaners.

“I have a BMW M3, which comes with particularly aggressive brake pads. The amount of brake dust this generates is unbelievable … I’ve tried dozens of cleaners … But for heavy accumulation or a ‘deep clean’ nothing is better than the Sonax.”

– Benjamin P. via Amazon

“Easiest wheel cleaner I’ve used to date, and it did exactly what it said it would. For full cleaning, I recommend doing this after taking the wheels off the car or truck, and follow the directions to a T. Leaving this stuff on your wheel for longer than directed can and will lead to damage …”

– Joseph M. via Amazon

Negative Sonax Reviews

One customer who left a negative review had no luck cleaning the dirty wheels on their car.

“This cleaner is a joke, yes it removes light brake dust. That is it. Rail dust, tar, and anything else you better forget about it. I followed the directions to a [T] and was still disappointed. I will be asking for a full refund. Should have stuck to Meguiars …”

– J. Thompson via Amazon

What Do Professionals Say? 

Similar to using a glass cleaner, proper tire dressing and cleaning involve proper application. Kyler Marker is a parts manager for Leith Lincoln in Raleigh, North Carolina. He shared some horror stories about trying to detail their cars without guidance. 

“The most common mistake people made is over-application,” he said, adding that spraying products onto a microfiber cloth helps minimize messes. 

“I can’t count the number of cars that come in here for a trade-in and they put tire shine on it and it’s all over the back bumper because they didn’t sit there for 25 minutes and let it dry, or they added half a tank of it on there. Overapplication tends to be most of the problems,” he said.

Our Take On The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner: 5 Stars

The Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner is incredibly effective on both factory-installed and aftermarket wheels. Due to the product attributes, Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner is even safe to spray on your brake calipers. The 16.9-fluid-ounce (fl oz) bottle of this product was still 75 percent full after cleaning a full set of car wheels, so you won’t have to worry about not having enough for a second clean. Overall, our product team couldn’t be happier with this product, but if you’re looking for other alternatives, you can check out our in-depth review guide on the best wheel cleaners available.

Overall Rating5 out of 5
Ease of Use5 out of 5
Cleaning5 out of 5
Shine5 out of 5

While this product works incredibly well on wheels, it doesn’t work well on car carpets or upholstery. If you find yourself looking to clean the inside of your car next, we recommend checking out our review of the best car carpet and upholstery cleaners.

Sonax Wheel Cleaner: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.