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2014 JGC Summit
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone

I recently bought some SRT wheels and looking to get them fixed up. They seem to be suffering from the same thing many Jeep wheels suffer from. Right around the center cap. Some people say its due to the way the wheels are balanced, some people say it's due to water getting trapped behind the center cap. Either way, the looks like poo poo and I'm looking to get the wheels refinished. One place I reached out to talked about having to have the wheels cnc'd which seems intense but maybe that is the case.

Here are what the look like








It seems odd that it's only wheels with this type of finish have this issue. If it was a balancing issue, or a water behind the center cap issue, why aren't all wheels having this problem? These are going on a Summit, and the factory wheels are chrome and doing the same thing.

Any guidance would be appreciated.
 

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Chrome Plating Aluminum is not as reliable as Steel, it is much more prone to failure....
Are the wheels actually chrome plated? Or are they painted or coated someway other than electrically plated with another metal?
The fact not all wheels suffer this damage/degradation to the coating is because they have different coatings....

I read somewhere, its often some sort of damage to the chrome over aluminum coating, like a nick that breaks the surface, that allows moisture to migrate underneath and damage the coating from underneath spreading outward.....

When you balance the wheels, you pop out the center cap and then place a hard metal cone into the opening to center up the wheel on the balance shaft, tightened down by a big wing nut.... ....so its conceivable that forcing the hard metal cone into that sharp edge at the opening of the center bore results in some damage to the finish..... ....not something you would notice, but it would be that tiny opening that allows moisture to get in under the coating and then spread outward as it damages the finish, that you do notice....

The fact Jeeps often have much larger and heavier wheels and tires that are difficult to handle, get on that machine and get the cone inserted, might add to the damage or increase the chances of damaging the coating in that area.....
 

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I've been lead to believe that the issue is the clear coat on the wheel starts to fail in that position, causing what is shown in the photo(s)
 

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As Jim said ^, those wheels look like polished aluminum sprayed over with a clear coat.
If this were my deal, i'd forget about getting them professionally re-finished which could be in the hundreds of dollars.
I'd instead remove the clear coat by chemical or any other means, polish shiny the bare aluminum, degrease and then spray a few coats of Rustoleum Wheel paint clear coat.
It'd be labor intensive and would probably need another DD back up vehicle.

I've re-painted the wheels on two of my vehicles, my XJ with steel wheels and my Neon with aluminum wheels.
The neon's wheels were aluminum with some really deep curb rash and gouges.
That forced me to forget going the polishing route and instead filled the defects then repainted with Rusuoleum wheel silver paint then Rustoleum clear coat.
That Rustoleum wheel paint has held up better than expected over the years with both vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the advice guys. As far as I know, the wheels are machined and then cleared over. I agree that it seems to me to look like a clearcoat issue.

The wheels are off the Jeep until the spring and they don't have tires mounted so I can spend some time and try out some things to try and get them looking good again.

I like the idea of trying to strip the clear coat. I have some detailing experience but haven't worked with a clearcoat stripper before. Would you use a stripper on the whole wheel? or just the problem areas? Also when using a paint stripper, is there a chance that the stripper will also remove the paint? The reason I'm asking is because part of the wheels are painted, in the pockets, but the face is machined. Would I be able to address just the polished area? or would I need to fully strip the whole wheel and then paint the whole thing and then remove the paint on the face?

I'm also not opposed to having them done professionally, just because they hopefully know what they're doing. I was just caught off guard by one place saying they need to be machined.

Thanks again for the input
 

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You really can't just strip the affected area...strip the whole wheel, thoroughly clean (like better than you have ever cleaned anything in your life...) and then clear coat the entire wheel with an appropriate finish.
 

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I have rattle can spray painted wheels with paint that was advertised for wheels, the appearance didn't last one winter in the northeast with the salt... ....they were covered in corrosion in 3 years..... ...the environment for wheels is pretty harsh, it requires a tougher coating than you can buy in a rattle can off a store shelf.. ...gotta agree with peterchang, look into powder coating, or some sort of professional coating, if you do all the prep work yourself it might not be too expensive....
 

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Just had my new SRT Rep wheels powder coated black, I"m lucky to have a shop close by that does nothing but wheels. $250 for all 4 wheels. They're going to do the 4 wheels on my race car trailer next, and they're the machined aluminum and clear coated finish like the OP's wheels. I just need to decide on a color, the trailer is a light gray metallic.
220640
 

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I painted my XJ wheels about 5 years ago and my Neon about 3 years ago and aside from a couple small rock chips from driving on gravel roads and with no salted Winter road corrosion, they both still look like new.
The right prep work, the right paint used and following the paint manufacturer's directions to a 'T' will determine the quality of any paint job.

In addition, the tire shop has to be trusted not to scratch the paint from any wheel whether OEM coating or a user re-paint by using the right equipment when mounting and balancing tires.

Case in point, when i painted the Neon wheels i had to remove the outside balancing weight on one wheel.
The other 3 wheels fortunately had the weights on the inside of the wheel.
My trusted tire guy's shop was closed so i ended up at another shop i never used before.
That A-hole did not use a cone to center the wheel in the balancing machine and ruined the fresh paint job.
Had to completely re-paint that one wheel then took it to my trusted tire shop for re-mounting and balancing.

Far as getting all my vehicle's wheels/tires balanced i always demand the shop use sticky weights or use clip on weights only on the inner wheel rim. Clip on weights are a source of chipping the wheel coating allowing corrosion to set in.

I agree that powder coating would probably be more durable in the long run.
To keep the polished aluminum finish, there are glossy clear powder coats available out there but not sure how they would look compared to a paint clear coat.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the inputs guys.

I'm not opposed to a powder coating, however I sorta like the look of the original colors, where the pockets/some features are painted gray while the face is machined clear. As you can tell, I'm far from a powder coating expert, are they able to powder coat a single piece in different colors/finishes?

Thanks again for the input everyone.
 

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A good powder coater can do the highlights gray then powder coat the entire wheel clear.
 

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If this were my deal and if the gray areas are still good and have a matte finish, i would carefully mask off and leave those gray areas alone and just strip the clear coat off the outer silver areas.
The 'entire' silver area might not even need to be removed just the areas where the clear coat is peeling by some careful progressive wet sanding starting out with 800 grit ending up with 1500 grit then a final polishing.
That would be a big time saver if it works, I myself would try that first before removing the entire clear coat.
Then i would degrease then add a few coats of clear coat wheel paint.

If you get them powder coated and depending on the shop, they can do all the work by removing the clear coat, masking (or spraying) the gray areas and then spray a glossy clear coat on the outer aluminum areas.
Most shop can do anything for a price.
 
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