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topic 1550

Best type of clearcoat for wheel application


Q. I'm wondering about the pro and cons between the liquid and powder clearcoat finishes for an automotive wheel application. What is the most durable to abrasive road dirt and what offers the best chemical resistance?

Is there a best clearcoat for highly polished aluminum billet wheels?


Matthew O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
wheel supplier - Ontario, California


A. Dear Matthew,

I believe that the current status of technology is that powder coatings are the finishing system of choice for automotive wheels and rims. Two reasons: One is powder usually have a better abrasion resistance, chip resistance and surface hardness then liquid paints. Second powder coatings generally apply around two mils in a one coat application without dripping and sagging, so you are building a heavier barrier coat than you would with liquid coatings.

Not to mention the environmental factor.


Thomas F. Gratz
St. Charles, Illinois


A. Dear Matthew,

We have done some work coating auto aluminum wheels with plasma deposited SiOx including filiform corrosion studies and APG and found excellent corrosion protection as well as ease of brake dust removal.


Robert J. Dykhouse
- Corona, California

A. You may want to explore catalyzed waterborne polyurethane-acrylate. It's VOC compliant, applies at 1.5 DFT and I have had excellent results on a west coast aluminum clad passenger railcar exposed to environmental extremes on the rail line (iron oxides, brake dust, water, washing solutions, etc.

Pete Bagley
- Reno, Nevada


A. Mr. Ott,

We use a liquid clear coating application for preservation purposes. This coating has withstood the elements of weather and saltwater. In many cases, these objects have been used for its original function (i.e. boat propellers).


Todd Miller
Oceanside, California


Q. HELP!, I own a VOLVO S90 (1998) and have scraped the clearcoat on the expensive stock wheels. What's the best liquid that I can apply to the part of the wheel that is now unprotected?


Walt Posluszny


Q. I own a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Classic and I put new wheels and tires on it. I am looking for a method of cleaning that isn't harsh on the clearcoat. I am also looking for something to protect the clearcoat and the shine with.

Justin Burress


A. We used a clear ceramic surface treatment that won't yellow, goes on very thin, can be applied in the field and will leave the surface slick and easy to clean. We coated the wheels, tires, chrome bumper, review mirrors on our 1996 GMC Yukon last summer, the bugs literally fall off when we drive through a rain storm.

Paul Yedinak
- Ennis, Montana


A. Hi, we find that for road trucks we get the best results by polishing the aluminum to the max. This maintains a good quality finish for about 100,000 miles with no protection whatsoever. We have no yellowing clearcoat, suffer little with pitting, suffer no cracking or floating that we often see with clearcoats & lacquers when subject to some of the extreme temperature changes that the wheels of a road truck endure. Maintenance is normally no more than regular washes. I have yet to find a clearcoat or lacquer that will outlast this time on o.t.r. trucks without yellowing or encouraging pitting and oxidization between the coating and the wheel. However, I have not encountered all of the clearcoats marketed and I am open to suggestions, and I am looking for a clearcoat for marine applications.

Steve Clark
polishing shop - Belfast, Maine, U.S.A


Q. I recently purchased a 2005 Infiniti G35 6MT that cam with 19 in. forged aluminum wheels that appear to have a clear coat of some sort on them. My question is, I want the wheels to match the paint on the car. Would I be better off Painting and clearcoating the wheels, or should I go the route of a high gloss powdercoat? Thank you for your time.

David Stinnett
Student - Waco, Texas


Q. What products are recommended to remove damaged clear coating applied to high quality (Borbet/Germany) automotive alloy wheels? Additionally, what clear coating products can be spray-applied to the bare alloy metal to assure a good bond and durability? I note that part of the alloy wheel is painted while a portion is bare metal. Thank you, in advance, for your help!

Fred Joel
Hobbyist - Reading, Pennsylvania, USA


Q. One of my customers has a set of billet aluminum wheels (bare metal) that he is tired of polishing on. He wants to put a clear powder coat on the wheels but I'm not sure how it will look. If he polished the wheels and sprayed them will they keep their polished billet appearance? will the powder stick well considering they won't be sand blasted before hand?

Stewart Smith
wheels - Humble, Texas


Q. I too, would like information on this.

Morgan Baker
- Mason, Michigan, United States

October 24, 2012

A. A solution to clear coating wheels is a clear ceramic coating. These coatings are non stick and easy to clean. Embed themselves into the substrate so no liquid contamination occurs even if the coating is scratched or broken. This coating also does not yellow, grey or blue over and is very thin meaning a polished wheel stays nice and bright.

Jeff Goodhart
- Leesport, Pennsylvania, USA

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