Scratches and Rust on Alloy Wheels
Alloy wheels are a great bit of technology. They look great, and as such they come on many new vehicles. However, many drivers often find themselves wondering if scratched alloy wheels will get rusty. Do they need to refurbish the whole wheel just for one little scratch?
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No, technically alloy wheels do not rust. However, they do corrode, which is similar but slightly different from rusting. Whereas rust creates a brownish-orange color, corrosion causes whitish patches on the alloy wheel.
A scratch can cause alloy wheels to begin to corrode. This is because, while alloy wheels have a special protective finish designed to prevent corrosion, a scratch can cause this finish to be pierced and corrosion can get through the gap, allowing the alloy to be damaged. Once the protective lacquer coating has been breached, corrosion is highly likely to follow. It does not like to miss an opportunity.
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How can I remove rust/corrosion from my alloy wheels?
- Apply your rust remover following the instructions on the container.
- Allow the rust remover to sit for as long as the instructions prescribe.
- Use a nylon scrubber first to scrub the corroded areas. Often, this will be enough to remove the corrosion.
- If there are stubborn spots of corrosion remaining, scrub them with a steel wool scrubber- but not too hard! Steel wool can put deep scratches into alloy wheels if you’re not careful. Keep at the scrubbing until the corrosion spots disappear and smooth out. Pay particularly close attention to areas around lug nuts and any holes in the middle of the wheel.
- Rinse the wheels with water.
- Use soap, a sponge, and water to clean off the wheels. Smaller spots may require a wheel cleaner.
- Rinse the wheels once again.
- Allow the wheels to dry.
- Apply an alloy wheel polish.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, minor cosmetic damage can be repaired by a specialist. They may simply spray your wheels to match the original finish. The procedure generally costs $75 to $120.
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Does an alloy wheel need to be fully refurbished for a scratch?
If you can feel an indent in your wheel, it may need full refurbishment. This process includes having the lacquer removed and putting the wheel through several chemical cleaning processes. Before the new lacquer coat is applied, the imperfections will be smoothed out or extra metal welded in.
To prevent future damage to your alloy wheels, consider getting protective nylon rings.