Which Wheels Are Right For You?
When you are deciding which wheels are right for you, there are quite a few choices. Here are some tips that may be helpful in choosing a wheel.
Offered mostly for off-road or as a low cost alternative to aluminum. Steel wheels can be painted or chromed. A painted wheel can be touched up with a spray can or brush if the need ever arises. A chrome steel wheel is prone to rust and is very high maintenance especially in areas that use salt on the roads in the winter. They are heavier than aluminum wheels, thereby adding some additional stress to suspension and braking components. Another downfall of a steel wheel is that they are a hand built wheel and have lower tolerances in regard to run out, sometimes causing vibration problems on the street.
Clear-coated Aluminum Wheels
These wheels are pretty much NO MAINTENANCE wheels. These are what come on vehicles as OEM equipment. You wash them just as you do the rest of the vehicle. The clear-coat dulls the shine a little, so they do not shine as much as polished wheels. Never use any type of acid cleaners on a clear-coated wheel. There are cleaners designed specifically for this wheel if they really get neglected and collect a large amount of dirt or brake dust. This is the wheel for someone who never wants to polish a wheel.
Machine Finished Aluminum Wheels
This type of finish is not very common any longer. This is what the original aluminum wheels were made like back in the old days. These wheels have very fine grooves left in them from the machining process that traps dirt and dulls the finish. You can actually feel the grooves if you run your fingernails across them. This type of wheel is the hardest aluminum wheel to maintain. Acid cleaners and lots of elbow grease are required.
SuperFinish Aluminum Wheels
A relatively new process that is very similar to the Machine Finish, but the machining process makes a lot finer cut. This process eliminates the manual polishing phase of a polished wheel, usually bringing the price down a little. Maintenance is more like a polished wheel and not near as bad as a machine finish wheel. The finish is not quite as bright as a polished wheel and will still require periodic polishing.
Polished Aluminum Wheels
These wheels are the most popular wheels selling today. The polishing process on this type of wheel virtually eliminates any machining grooves, thus eliminating anywhere for dirt to collect. Usually a simple polishing job a couple times a year is all that is needed to keep them bright and shiny.
Chromed Aluminum Wheels
These wheels are the more high-end wheels and actually some of the easiest to take care of. Chrome over aluminum cannot rust from the inside out like steel chromed wheels do. You may still get some occasional surface rust if you do not take care of them, but most of the time, a little chrome polish takes it right off. The normal maintenance routine for chromed aluminum wheels includes periodic waxing a couple times a year and wiping them down with Windex in between.