You’ve bought your shiny chrome wheels and mounted them on your vehicle. You know the Northwest can be a chrome killer – so you’d like to know what are the most common issues, and what can you do to prevent damage?
A problem common to all vehicle wheels is exposure to microscopic metal particles from brakes and brake dust. When you apply the brakes, friction causes them to heat up and throw off tiny particles of hot metal that stick to your wheels. Over time, these metal particles can cause pitting, followed by peeling chrome as the problem worsens. Though it is not possible to prevent this problem from happening, regular cleaning of your chrome wheels will prevent build-up and extend the life of your wheels.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, the relatively high humidity can cause chromed aluminum wheels to peel or corrode and chromed steel wheels to rust. De-icing chemicals and road salt used in winter can drastically accelerate the damage to your wheels. Wheel care professionals in the Northwest generally recommend that owners take off their chrome wheels during the winter months to prevent damage.
From the Makers of Koenig Wheels: YOUR MAINTENANCE IS REQUIRED “The presence of salt on the road during winter, the salty atmosphere of coastal areas and the presence of impurities in the grime found in muddy areas could cause the alloy wheels to loose it’s shine and subject it to corrosion if the rim is nor cleaned of such impurities. Please Clean the wheels after every trip using only mild (non-abrasive) soap and water. Always keep them free of brake dust and road salts. Please read carefully the attached instructions for use of any commercially available wheel and car body cleaning compounds. We are not responsible for change in alloy wheel color, clear coat peeling, and other defects caused by the use of such cleaning compounds. Pressurized water is not allowed to be sprayed directly onto the surface of alloy wheels as excessive pressure may damage the paints and it’s clear coat or chrome plating”
All the major Alloy Wheel manufacturers have similar warnings on the informational literature placed in the box with your new wheels. Unfortunately, most tire stores do not convey this information to you the consumer. We see wheels every day that have been affected by weather, road maintenance chemicals, brake dust and improper cleaning solutions.
We use and recommend Eagle 1 tire and wheel care products at WheelKraft NW. Ask your technician.
The industry standard for chrome wheels is triple-plating—wheels are aluminum, plated with copper, then plated with nickel, then chromed. Driving a car heats and cools the wheels repeatedly. Each of the metals used in chrome wheels heat and cool at a different rate, causing uneven expansion and contraction which can then lead to peeling chrome. Less expensive (non-triple-plated) chrome is even more susceptible to peeling due to temperature fluctuations.
Caring for your chrome wheels
Here are some steps you can take to keep your chrome wheels in the best shape possible:
1. Wash frequently with soap and water to prevent build-up.
2. Occasionally wipe the rims down with chrome polish or baby oil, then apply sealant or wheel wax to minimize brake dust build-up.
3. If build-up occurs, use a high-quality chrome cleaner such as Mothers Chrome Polish.
4. Leave the chrome in the garage during the winter to prevent exposure to salt and de-icing chemicals that are used on the roads.
If your chrome wheels become pitted or start peeling re-chroming can be an option, however the cost is often too high relative to replacement. Re-chroming costs between $200-250 per wheel – so damage prevention is extremely cost effective. Curb damage to chrome wheels can rarely be smoothed over either, unfortunately. However, in the situation where your chrome wheel isn’t holding air WheelKraftNW can often repair that situation for around $80-90 per wheel, and this generally resolves the situation permanently.
WheelKraftNW offers mobile alloy wheel refinishing in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington metro area. Their experienced wheel repair technicians will come to your home or work and restore your wheels to premium condition, for far less than the cost of wheel replacement.