How to return your alloy wheels to tip-top condition
One of the most noticeable components to really set a car apart from the competition is the choice of wheels.
Typically, traditional steel wheels are the value for money workhorse many of our motors roll around on—day in, day out—and with very few problems. But there’s not a great deal of glamour in a steel wheel for the drivers who like to stand out from the crowd.
Alloy wheels deliver curb appeal
A set of alloy wheels doesn’t just provide a smart and stylish high-end appearance with a selection of different hi-quality finishes, but they are lighter, stiffer and stronger. This is why they are typically associated with the sports and supercar markets and hi-end, quality motoring.
A lightweight wheel contributes to better fuel consumption, and higher performance in improved braking, acceleration and handling. On top of that, alloy is more resilient against corrosion.
However, even with the best care in the world, no wheel is invincible, and we’re here to offer some tips on what to do when it’s time for an alloy wheel repair or a complete facelift.
Most modern alloy wheels are made from aluminium or magnesium mixed with various additional metals to increase strength. Aluminium is the most popular, found on many modern cars of today. However, with magnesium alloys being a little more brittle than their aluminium counterparts, and offering lighter weights, this is what makes them the most likely option to appear on sports and supercars.
A myriad of alloy wheel finishes
There are several high-quality options available when it comes to alloy wheel refurbishment finishes.
The following are the most popular:
Alloy wheel painting and lacquer
Whether you own a pair of steel or alloy wheels, simply having them painted can add an extra depth of style and personalisation, as well as adding a protective finish that will help to extend their working life.
Paint is applied as a liquid—pigment floating in a carrier—and the more coats you layer up, the thicker the protective layer becomes. Also, with the correct care and light sanding between coats, each one adds to the smooth finish and to get the best finish possible, multiple thin coats are preferred over a few thick ones.
To get the best finish, preparation is key. Everything must be clean and smooth and special care must be made when cleaning the wheel and applying the paint. Any dust that ends up in the finished article will stand out like a sore thumb and detract significantly from the overall appearance.
Finally, painted wheels will receive several layers of clear lacquer. This gives an added depth to the paint surface and a truly professional finish.
Alloy wheel powder coating
Powder coating wheels offers a much tougher finish than conventional painting techniques.
Where paint is applied as a liquid, powder coating is applied as just that—a powder—and bonded to the wheel electrostatically. It cures to the wheel, forming a durable skin with a finish that is far harder than traditional paint, offering superior protection.
A powder-coated wheel is typically a single colour finish and lacquered to provide a deep-quality finish—just the same way spray-painted wheels are.
Where to get wheels powder coated near me?
Our wheel refurb quote tool will let you know exactly where the best options are in your area, so why not give it a try right now? At the moment we’re specialising in London and Manchester, but look out for further locations adding over time.
Don’t your wheels deserve it?
How much does it cost to have wheels powder coated?
If you’d like to know how much it would cost to powder coat wheels, that’s all covered in our wheel repair quote finder too. We’re ready and waiting to deliver all kinds of alloy wheel refurb options.
Diamond cut alloy wheels
So, what are diamond cut wheels? Well, to get an exceptionally high-shine finish, the wheel is fitted into a computer-controlled lathe that skims the very top surface layer of the material from the wheel. This leaves a faint grooved effect that allows the light bouncing off it to deliver the shine.
To complete the process, once again, the wheels are lacquered to protect the new finish and the base wheel material.
One of the standout diamond cutting wheel techniques is to mix the high-shine alloy with painted elements. This way, the wheels incorporate a two-tone appearance, utilising any colour the owner would like to incorporate, complementing or contrasting with the car’s bodywork colour scheme.
Diamond cut wheel refurbishment
When your alloy wheels start to look past their best, you have a choice of different methods to get them back to their original blemish-free best.
Alloy is a relatively soft material, so is susceptible to dints, grazes and chips. Everyday driving can provide altercations with kerbs, roundabouts and anything else you might come into contact with at ground level. Alloy is also subject to corrosion and discolouration, so when your wheel arrives at this point in its life, removing the top layer of the surface can reveal the beautiful material that lies underneath.
In the same that way you’d achieve a stunning appearance when finishing your wheels this way when they’re brand new or to bring them back to life, you can utilise the same process for diamond cut alloy wheel repair.
Wheels need the correct level of preparation and the lathe programmed accordingly. Any big gouges and gaps are filled first, and with a professionally carried out operation, your wheels can, once again, look as good as new.
Anodised alloy wheels
Another coating process to provide a stunning appearance for alloy wheels is anodising.
Anodising alloy wheels involves an electrochemical reaction that increases the thickness of the oxide layer on the surface. The process offers a wide variety of striking colours. The coloured wheels are sealed using a chemical process.
Again, this leaves a hardwearing, tough finish. Your alloy wheels will become weather and corrosion-resistant, but they should be maintained and treated for iron contamination, and regularly cleaned to maintain the finish.
Which alloy wheel coating or colouring is the right one for you?
If you’re looking into rejuvenating or repairing your alloy wheels, there’s plenty of choice.
With the right preparation, a fresh coat of paint and lacquer can bring old alloys back to life. Powder coating offers an elevated finish and a little more protection, and when carried out correctly, can lift the appearance of a car significantly.
When it comes to high-end finishes, a single or two-tone diamond-cut wheel will raise the game of any car. It’s why this method is the most used option for top-of-the-range models and luxury vehicles.
Whichever is your preference, or within your budget, giving your existing alloys a new lease of life, we’re sure, will provide you with the lift that you’re looking for.
How to determine the correct size of alloy wheels
Do you need to know how to size your alloy wheels? Find out what all the measurements mean in our Alloy Wheel Size Guide article.
Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.