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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to know if there is a special cleaning/polishing material to use on the stock aluminum wheels to make them bright and shiny. Another question is has anyone ever chrome plated their stock aluminum wheels? If so is it too gaudy? Couldn't find any info on this topic in this forum.
Thanks.
Rob
 

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The stock wheels have a coating on them to keep them from corroding. To polish them you would have to remove this.

I have only heard of chrome plating aluminum just recently. They have to plate the aluminum with something else first, and depending on how smooth it comes out, may have to be plated several times before chroming. It is very expensive....to the tune that it might be cheaper to buy rims. $150-$190 for a Harley oil tank, and they aren't that big.
robert
 

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to chrome my motorcycle rims would cost me about $680, so you'd be looking at $1300 or so to do 4 wheels. You'd be better off finding some after market rims IMO. Also the extra weight from the chroming would probably give you a significant hit on mileage.
 

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dice said:
Also the extra weight from the chroming would probably give you a significant hit on mileage.
HUH :!: :?

Last time I looked chrome plating is measured in the thousands of an inch thickness (.001"). _Might_ add up to a whole ounce of additional weight.

:lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Cleaning wheels

How about cleaners, anything special?, or just car wash type soap and water and perhaps some cleaner if road tar spots are present?
 

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I use meguiars detailing spray and a soft rag. Works fine.
robert
 

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personally, I don't use soaps of any kind on my wheels. I've had bad experiences with aluminum wheels and their associated coatings and the use of soaps. Primarily with the problem of getting all the soap off the wheel before travel. The coatings on my previous set of wheels (a GM product) became etched/discolored where the soaps had dried on the wheels.

The best solutions I found to this problem after it occured were the mildest scratch and swirl removers, and a lot of elbow grease.

Nowadays I never use soaps on my wheels, and almost never on my painted finishes. My last vehical went almost its entire lifetime (14 years) without soaps touching its paint or wheels.

I use water and soft cloth to clean unless there is road tar like you mentioned. Anything that does not come off with a gentle soak and a soft cloth waits until I give the car a rub-down with a deep cleaner.

For the pesky inside rim, just behind the outer face, of the Insight OEM wheels I use a clean sock on a flexible plastic tube and water, to get the brake dust off . The inside rim drives me nuts trying to get it clean, I hate the look of a black front wheel.
 

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The wheels are mildly polished aluminum with a clear coat finish. This is essentially the same urethane clear coat they use on the cars paint. Caring for it is about the same as the cars paint. First, do not use a dish washing detergent on automotive finishes. Detergents will strip any wax protection you might have on the car and it strips essential oils from the paint, basically drys it out. A proper automotive soap will be PH balanced and will not harm the paint. I'm personally a Meguiar's fan, but any should have these same attributes.

First, I'd try cleaning your wheels really well because if they're dirty this can considerably hinder their shine. After washing the cars paint I'd use the remaining wash soap with a soft cloth, or separate wash mitt (you don't want brake dust making it's way to your paint) to thoroughly clean the wheels and rinse. If they're really bad the next step is to use an automotive clay bar to remove bonded contaminants. Brake dust in particular can be bad. I use my pre-used clay bars from the paint to do wheels. After you do this the surface will be smooth as glass. When properly clean the stock wheels are fairly shiny.

If you want them shinier there are a couple of options. One is to take them to a professional polishing shop. They will use paint stripper to remove the clear coat then polish the aluminum to whatever level of gloss you want and then reapply clear coat. The only consideration with this is the center caps, which if I recall, are a faux aluminum under plastic so I doubt you would be able to get this to match the rest of the wheels if they were polished.

Of course the other option is chroming, which is an extremely durable finish with the ultimate shine. Either will be fairly expensive to have done though. I haven't seen an Insight with high polish or chrome wheels, but I did see a Prius a few weeks ago with its' wheels chromed and it looked good.
 
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I have also been looking into what to do with my wheels as they are just starting to corrode (3rd set now).

The best I could come up with was the chrome paint that is shown here http://alsacorp.com/products/mirrachrom ... _show8.htm with a nice thick laqure coating.

The std laqure from new is very thin indeed, especially in the edges on the slots in the wheels.
 

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Whenever I wash and polish our Insights (likewise a Maquires fan) I also wash and polish the aluminum wheel covers with these same products. Hopefully I'm not doing anything wrong and they do turn out looking great. My rationale has been if the polish is OK for the Clear Coat on a painted surface, it's probably OK for Clear Coat on an unpainted surface...could this be risking corrosion problems?
 

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Thanks Trekker for the advice; much appreciated. :) BTW the polish that I've been using over the past 2 years has been either Maguires NXT Generation liquid wax or occasionally Turtle Wax Platinum series Ultra Gloss liquid wax. The wax puts a great shine on everything, including the aluminum wheels, and so far so good re: substrate stability.
 

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sputnik said:
Whenever I wash and polish our Insights (likewise a Maquires fan) I also wash and polish the aluminum wheel covers with these same products. Hopefully I'm not doing anything wrong and they do turn out looking great. My rationale has been if the polish is OK for the Clear Coat on a painted surface, it's probably OK for Clear Coat on an unpainted surface...could this be risking corrosion problems?
Yeah your ok, anything that's ok on the paint is ok on the wheels. Just don't use any metal polish (or as Meguiar's new one is spelled "polysh") on them. I find clay barring makes probably the most dramatic difference by just removing any bonded brake dust. Of course wax will help repel this too.
 
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