Alloy wheels come in different sizes and finishes.
You can choose them based on your requirements.
The cost for these wheels will vary depending on their brands, size, and finishing.
The current article discussed the different finishes of alloy wheels and their average pricing.
Different Type of Wheel Finishes
Alloy wheels come in different finishes and each type of finishing has a different cost.
The major type of alloy wheel finishes and their cost are discussed below:
Painted and Lacquered
Painted and lacquered alloy wheels are the most common and standard finishing.
The wheel rims are painted generally using silver color which resembles a polished finish or chrome finish at a much cheaper price.
Painted wheels are the most basic and commonly used alloy wheels finishes and can be found in most vehicles.
Painted wheels need to be protected from UV-fade, industrial and environmental fallouts, and wash swirls.
They can be treated like the bodywork and washing agents with extreme pH should be strictly avoided to wash and clean them.
These wheels should be regularly cleaned and given the fact that they are protected, a good quality cleaner is sufficient to remove any dirt build up, brake dust, grime, etc.
It is important to note that highly acidic or alkaline cleaning products can harm the wheels as they can etch the lacquer on them and cause blistering and peeling.
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Painted and lacquered alloy wheels can be protected by either using wheel wax or ceramic sealant.
The ceramic sealant is more durable and effective in protecting the wheels against hot brake dust, which may otherwise harm the painting and lacquer.
Proper care should be taken before applying wheel wax or ceramic sealant and the wheel should be cleaned and polished before its application.
If you are using ceramic sealant then you should wipe it with a residue remover to ensure proper bonding with the wheel.
These are the most basic type of alloy wheels and the prices start from $100 and can go upwards of $2,000.
If you have normal street usage from your car, then there is no need for you to invest in the most premium and state-of-the-art alloy wheels.
Powder coated alloy wheels are powder coated with a dry powder.
The main difference between painted wheels and powder coated wheels is that the latter does not use any kind of solvent.
Powder coating is a decorative finishing alloy wheel for making them more attractive.
The coating is sprayed or applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat for it to bond with the wheel.
This process of application of powder coating results in a stronger and more durable finishing than the regular painted wheels.
Like the standard painted wheels, the powder coated alloy wheels need to be lacquered on the top to provide good protection against UV damage, scratches, pollution, and wash swirls.
They can be cleaned and sealed in the same way as painted wheels using wheel wax or ceramic sealant.
Powder coated wheels are also eco-friendlier than the painted and lacquered wheels as they do not contain the same solvents as liquid paints and hence release fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
It is important to take proper precautions for powder coating of wheels to get the best results and finish.
If the wheel has not been cleaned or heat treated properly for removing the gases from small pores, then you may notice that bubbles can break the surface of powder coating.
If the powder has not been flowed to in gel form or protective lacquer has not been added, then the wheels become vulnerable to scratches and damage.
Powder coating can be a good option if you are looking to refurbish your damaged alloy wheels.
Wheels that have sustained considerable wear and tear then powder coating them gives a good cosmetic makeover to them.
There are many different finishes which can be achieved by a powder coating of wheels which provide it a good cosmetic makeover and make it attractive.
Powder coating can be done by yourself or by professionals.
The cost of powder coating depends on the size of the wheels and bigger your wheels, the more you will have to pay.
If you are planning to seek professional help for powder coating your wheels, then you can expect to spend $250-$550 for a base coat.
If you wish to add extras like another clear coat on the base coat, then it may cost you another $125-$250.
Anodizing is another popular application on your regular alloy wheels.
Anodizing involves using an electrochemical reaction to increase the thickness of the oxide layer on the surface of the alloy wheel.
The uniqueness of anodizing is that the finishing is not separate to the wheel but becomes a part of it and integrates itself with it.
Anodizing on the wheels is carried out by a chemical process and anodized wheels have a textured finish to them.
Anodizing can help you to customize your wheels as per your liking as it can be done in any color of your choice.
You can choose from a wide range of colors like black, gold, red, bronze, blue, etc.
Since anodizing becomes a part of the wheel, hence it will not peel off, flake, or chip like in other wheel finishes.
When polishing is done to the wheels after the anodizing process, it results in an excellent gloss and sheen which will not dull easily.
Anodized wheels are durable but they need to be taken care of and maintained regularly.
They should be regularly treated for iron contamination and should be cleaned to preserve their finishing.
Maintenance is very important for anodized wheels as once they become stained and corroded, it becomes difficult to clean them and they will need to be chemically stripped for refurbishing.
Using a mild car shampoo or cleaner is the most effective way of cleaning anodized alloy wheels.
Anodized wheels are chemically sealed during the anodization process so there is generally no need for wax or sealant for them.
The newer the wheels, the better will be the finish and results from anodizing it.
Anodizing alloy wheels are not too costly and you can expect to get them anodized for under $100.
Diamond cut wheels are also commonly known as machined finished wheels.
They are precision cut using a computerized lathe followed by the application of a clear coat for protecting the wheels.
Diamond cut wheels are first painted in a specific color and then baked in an oven.
Once the wheel comes out of the oven and is dry, it is mounted on a CNC lathe to ensure that the face of the wheel is machined to get the diamond cut pattern.
These wheels are then sprayed with acrylic lacquer to achieve the desired glossy finish.
Diamond cut wheels have a distinct look compared to the regular painted wheels as they are much glossier.
Fine grooves can be seen on the wheels upon close inspection.
These wheels stand out from the regular wheels and differentiate from the competition.
Though diamond cut wheels provide many benefits, they come with few drawbacks also.
They are prone to damage and if water gets under the lacquer then it can stain the metal.
These wheels should be cleaned using a mild shampoo or a pH neutral cleaner to prolong their lifespan.
It is better to use wheel waxes and polymer sealants for diamond cut wheels as ceramic sealants need machine polishing to remove for treating any surface issues while the former can be removed easily.
Diamond cut wheels cannot be re-cut every time when they are machined as it will lead to the removal of some amount of alloy from the wheels which can compromise the structural integrity of the wheel and cause safety issues.
Split rims are unique wheel finishing as they are not made from a single piece of aluminum alloy.
They are instead made from two or three different pieces of alloys bolted together.
They are easy to identify as they have a series of small bolts around the rim of the wheel.
These bolts hold together the different pieces of aluminum alloys used to manufacture the wheel.
Split rims are generally lacquered and can be vulnerable to corrosion and rusting.
Split rims can also have different finishing for multiple parts of the wheel.
It is very common to see an anodized center, a lacquered middle, and a bare metal rim on the outside.
These type of alloy wheels are not commonly used for generic car applications as they require high maintenance.
Just like diamond cut wheels, split rims should be cleaned using a mild shampoo or a pH neutral cleaner.
These wheels are not compatible with ceramic sealants and hence, wheel wax should be used for them.
Refurbishing split rims involves a lot of work and time as each bolt has to be removed one at a time for segregating the different pieces of alloy used to manufacture it.
These separate parts are then refurbished and again assembled together.
Hence, refurbishing a split rim wheel is much costlier compared to other wheel finishes.
Chrome finishing alloy wheels are characterized by their exquisite chrome gloss.
Chrome plating a wheel requires it to be polished and acid-etched.
It is then plated with nickel, followed by bronze, and then finally chromium.
These layers bond excellently with one another and increase the strength of the finish.
They look exceptionally classy and attractive but are not very commonly used.
They are mostly used for classic cars in the US and Europe.
They are difficult to maintain and are susceptible to corrosion and thus regular cleaning is mandatory for chrome finish alloy wheels.
It is best to use mild car shampoo for cleaning these wheels.
It is also claimed by some experts that chrome plating wheels make them brittle and thus more susceptible to breaking under the impact.
Larger chrome plated alloy wheels are even more vulnerable to cracking when subjected to impact.
Though chrome finished wheels look great, they are very difficult to maintain and cost a lot for refurbishing and repairing.
It is recommended to protect the chrome finish wheels using wheel wax or polymer-based sealant which allows you convenient access in case of rusting appears on the wheel as rusting can quickly damage chrome finished wheels.
The chrome finished alloy wheels can cost you $175-$400 for a wheel size between 17-20 inches.
Precautions for Purchasing Alloy Wheels
Alloy wheels are costly and you should take proper precautions before buying them. They are a long-term investment for your car and you should ensure that you buy the best fitting and performance-oriented wheels.
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You can take the following precautions before buying the best alloy wheels for your car:
- You should do proper research before making the purchase including the brand of wheels, type of wheels, the material used for manufacturing, etc
- It is important to buy the correctly sized wheels for your car. There is a general perception among car owners that bigger alloy wheels look better and also provide improved performance. However, buying undersized or oversized wheels can degrade the ride quality and comfort significantly. In addition to it, it can also lead to safety issues for the vehicle. Many countries also do not allow oversized wheels as per their regulatory and safety standards
- You should always buy the wheels from a reputed and authorized dealer. There are many shady dealers who deal with cheap and low-quality wheels which may cost less but can compromise your safety. Buying from an authorized dealer ensures that you only get high-quality branded wheels and not some cheap rip off. You will also get proper warranty cover on the wheels when you buy from such credible dealers
- When buying wheels, you should verify the bolt patterns. You should only buy wheels with wheel pattern that match with your car. If the bolt pattern is not correct, then the wheels will simply not fit in your car