Painted
Painted Gloss BlackPainted GreyPainted Silver><img src=Painted Bronze

The most common wheel finish is a painted. Painted wheels come in a wide variety of colors & designs, silver being the most common. Painted wheels are sprayed or powder coated.

The process consists of prepping, priming, painting and applying a clear coat, which seals the finish against corrosion.

Machined
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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 produce the rainbow effect that is common with machined surfaces. Only the outer surface of the wheel is machined and some machined wheels have only a portion machined.

Polished
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Polished wheels are generally very expensive and comprised of the highest quality material. These wheels can be difficult to identify.

Some polished finishes look painted, while others have a chrome-like appearance. Polished wheels tend to be lighter in look and some do not have a clear-coat.

Polished wheels that are not clear-coated have more shine, however they require more maintenance. Polished wheels will not have a metallic look.

Chrome

Chrome wheels have a highly polished, mirror-like finish. The wheel is actually dipped into a liquid mixture of various metals

Chrome plating can add 2-3 pounds to each wheel. The finish is very shiny and reflective. However, brake dust, road salt, cold climates and salt air can cause chrome plated finishes to pit & peal.

This is a major problem with chrome plated wheels, which require a lot of cleaning to avoid surface damage.

Chrome wheels should be removed during the winter months.

Chrome Clad

The surface of a chrome clad wheel might look 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 Colors

Hypersilver is a paint process that uses a metallic paint laid over a black undercoat to produce an extremely deep, shiny finish.

Most BMW, Audi and Lexus wheels have been finished in Hypersilver, 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.

PVD Chrome

PVD is a new state of the art process that provides a superior alternative to traditional “Chrome Plating”. It has been used for decades in other industries.

It is now available in a bright or black finish for automotive wheels. A PVD coated wheel virtually eliminates the common pitting and peeling problems associated with chrome plating.

The manufacturing process uses recyclable powder coatings for the base and clear topcoat layers. Sandwiched in-between is a simple metal alloy which is applied under vacuum.

Unlike the layered metal system of traditional chrome plating, PVD coatings are very light, which aids in fuel economy.