Wheel Finishes

How do I know what finish I have?

Painted – The most common finish is a painted wheel which comes in a wide variety of designs. Painted wheels are sprayed or powder coated. The process of painting a wheel consists of prepping the wheel, priming, painting, and applying a clear coat, which seals the finish against corrosion.


Machined – You can always tell machined wheels by the thin lines cut into the aluminum surface during the construction of the wheel. The lines, which resemble those of a CD, are sometimes so fine that they are nearly undetectable. The lines are what produce the rainbow effect that is customary with machined surfaces. Only the outermost surface of the wheel is machined and with some machined wheels, only a portion of the wheel is machined.


Polished – The most difficult of all wheel styles to identify are polished. They are generally very expensive and are constructed of the highest quality material. Some polished finishes resemble painted finishes while others resemble chrome. Polished wheels have a lighter look and may not be clear-coated. Polished wheels that are not clear-coated have a much higher luster but they require a great deal of maintenance. You will never see a metallic sparkle on polished wheels when viewed in bright sunlight. A polished wheel closely resembles silverware.


Chrome – The surface of chrome wheels is the most durable of all finishes. Although the chrome finish is thin, it is very strong and resistant to damage. However, in colder climates, chrome has a tendency to peel from salted roads along with the freezing and thawing of water. Most chrome wheel finishes resemble those of a typical kitchen faucet, which in most cases is also chrome.


Chrome Clad – The surface of a chrome clad wheel might look like a chrome wheel, but this wheel is actually an aluminum wheel backing with a chromed plastic facing adhered to the wheel. The easiest way to tell if you have a chrome-clad wheel is to tap on the wheel with your fingernail and listen – if it sounds like plastic, it’s likely chrome clad.


Hyper Clad – The surface of a Hyper Clad might look like an actual Hyper Silver painted wheel. However, this wheel is actually an aluminum wheel backing with a Hyper Silver painted plastic facing adhered to the wheel. The easiest way to tell if you have a Hyper Clad is to tap on the wheel with your fingernail and listen…if it sounds like plastic; it’s likely Hyper Clad. Another way to make the determination is if the Hyper Silver painted surface ends at the lip of the wheel.


Hyper Silver Painted – Hyper Silver is a paint process that uses metallic paint laid over a black undercoat to produce an extremely deep, shiny finish. Most BMW, Audi, and Lexus wheels have been finished in Hyper Silver, and now even domestic cars are using this type of finish. This finish is very hard to detect most of the time and can come in a variety of shades. The lighter version resembles the finish of a shark’s skin.

Hyper Silver (light)

Hyper Silver Painted (dark)

How do I determine what size wheel I need?

The size of the wheel will be stamped or cast on the inside of the wheel. For ease of identification, it is also available on the sidewall of the tire. It will be the number to the right of the “R”. Example: P225/50R17, the 17 represents the wheel size.

What are the differences between an original equipment (OE) wheel and an aftermarket wheel?

-An OE wheel was originally installed on the vehicle when it was manufactured.
-An aftermarket wheel is manufactured to match the look and fit of the OE wheel but is not necessarily made or installed by the original manufacturer.