So you’ve got alloy wheels on your car – but which type and are they repairable?
You’d think that alloy wheels are alloy wheels, but no – life’s not that simple. Most are aluminium but there are some containing additional alloys such as magnesium.
There are several different types of alloy wheels in current use:
- Painted alloy wheels
- Polished alloy wheels
- Diamond cut alloy wheels
- Split rim alloy wheels
Painted Alloy Wheels
By far the most common type is the standard painted alloy wheel. The wheel is covered in either a coat of wet paint or, more commonly, powder coated. It’s then covered in a protective lacquer, which also gives the wheel its shine.
The big advantages of this type of wheel are, firstly, the surface is flexible and so can absorb minor impacts, because the wheel has several layers it takes more damage to get down to bare aluminium and they’re therefore less prone to oxidisation. Second, if you do damage your wheel it’s easy and cheap to refurbish it.
Polished Alloy Wheels
Polished alloy wheels fall into two groups: those with just a polished rim and those where the full face is polished. The remainder of the wheel will be a standard paint finish.
These wheels look great when they’re new and as long as you look after them! The big problem is that there’s only one layer of protective material between the wheel and the elements – the lacquer. Any damage, even a small stone chip, will allow water to get behind the lacquer and start to attack the aluminium. You’ll often see white tracking marks as the oxidisation spreads and this will frequently lift the lacquer away from the wheel.
It’s important that you get these refurbished before the damage leads to pitting as this is very difficult to eradicate.
Often it’s just the rim that needs the old lacquer stripping off, the rim is then re-polished and re lacquered. It’s relatively easy and not too expensive.
If the full face is polished it’s obviously going to take longer and cost more to refurbish. Occasionally the painted spokes may need repainting, which again adds to the cost.
Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels
These look very similar to polished alloy wheels, but if you look very closely you’ll see that the surface of the wheel looks similar to a CD. These are the marks left when the wheel was lathed, usually with a diamond tipped drill – hence the name.
Like polished wheels the big drawback is, again, that they have only the one protective layer. So it’s easy to get damage down to the aluminium.
Repairing and refurbishing this type of alloy wheel can be expensive, around double the price of a standard painted alloy wheel. You’ve three options:
- Full diamond cut. This can take up to a week so you’ll need to do without your car. You can only do this up to 3 times, as each time they are re-cut the metal gets thinner.
- We can convert them to a polished rim finish, typically takes a couple of days and is cheaper than a full re-cut and there’s no limit to how many times you can have this done.
- We can convert them to standard painted alloy wheels. Takes a day and is half the price of a full re-cut
See examples of our work here