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topic 3327

Chrome Plating/Dipping

A discussion started in 2001 & continuing through 2017


Q. I would like information and prices on chrome dipping my rims please. I have stock 16" rims on a 1993 SHO TAURUS. Please get back to me.

Thank you in advance.

George S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- St.Louis, Missouri, USA


RFQ: I have a set of aftermarket rims that I am interested in having either chrome plated or chrome dipped. I'm not sure of the difference. I wanted chrome but the only finishes they were made in were silver and polished. I got the polished but they still aren't shiny enough for my liking. They are 17" and I also have a set of 15" that I would like to have done.

The Z
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa


A. Hi, Z. Chrome is always electroplated, it is never melted and applied on wheels like chocolate on strawberries, so there is no alternate process to electroplating except for shiny spray paint ("chrome-look" spray paint). Please see our Introduction to Chrome Plating if you want more background info on this or other aspects of chrome plating.

The truth is, though, OEM wheels are prepared, polished, and plated in bulk -- with resultant low labor costs. The extremely time-consuming labor involved in preparing and plating a single set of wheels will usually make the plating cost higher than replacement cost, but best of luck.

(Please provide your real name, phone number and address; I don't know of any shop anywhere that will undertake the expense of preparing a quote except for an actual identifiable individual).

Good luck. Regards,

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. For others reading this letter. "Dip it" is nearly fighting words for chrome platers. Reason, a common question is "Why is it so expensive, all you do is dip it in a few tanks". Quality chrome plating is a time-consuming process with one of the most regulated chemicals from hazardous waste, employee health, water quality and air quality standpoints.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Q. I have a set of rims that were dipped originally I think. They are about five years old and two of them are in pretty bad shape and the other two are in okay shape. How can I insure, if I get them dipped, that I will get the same quality and if it is possible to get it?

Jason W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Volvo - Lexington, Tennessee, USA


A. Hi, Jason. You can get the same quality, but maybe you can't get the assurance :-)

The process is sufficiently complex, and requires enough quality control, that it's very easy to make chrome plated wheels that will quickly peel (and/or rust if they are steel). You need to work with a shop or wheel manufacturer who offers reputation, references, and a guarantee.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


RFQ: I've seem multiple questions regarding chrome wheel dipping on the East Coast; however, I haven't seen any replies. I too am interested in getting my 74 VW Bug wheels chrome dipped. Actually, I had them chrome dipped about 2 years ago by a company in CA that did a terrible job. I was wondering if there are any reputable companies here on the East Coast that could do such a job. Any information would be appreciated.


Christopher H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Bethesda, Maryland, USA

October 16, 2010

RFQ: Where do I send rims to in CA? I have a set on my Hummer H2 that I would like to get refinished. The rims are over $1800 each so for me it may be better to send them off to be chromed again. Thanks.

Daniel G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Harlan Iowa US

Ed. note: Readers can review our Directory of Jobshops, or Post an RFQ to which the site's advertisers respond in private. Good luck.


Q. I was wondering if buying a set of car wheels, white, for example, then getting them professionally chrome dipped, is cheaper then buying chrome wheels, which can add $500+ to the wheel set cost. Also, do you think the wheel manufacturer does a better job with their chrome or would an outside job be sufficient?

17126-1 chrome wheel  

17126-2 chrome wheel   Beau S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Clearwater, Florida, USA


A. Hi Beau. The question of whether an OEM or a refinisher would do a better job can't really be answered, because it depends on the individual OEM and the individual refinisher. But the OEM has the better knowledge base since he controls every step of manufacture, and he has a great cost advantage because his labor cost can be divided among a very large number of identical wheels rather than a couple.

So the short answer to the question of whether you should buy white and have them refinished is NO.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Even though an outside source would probably do a better job, it would not be cost effective. The manufacturers of most wheels outsource the chrome to the lowest bidder. Most do not chrome their own wheels. I have been in this business for 15+ years and I get a lot of wheels chromed out for customers but unfortunately no one on this side of the states does a quality job, so I send mine out to California.

John Wagoner
Tampa, Florida

How could it really cost more than $50/wheel

August 29, 2017

! All you need to do it dip them in a vat and let them dry.

Doesn't seem like it should be that expensive.

Michael Smith
- Mission Viejo, California USA

August 2017

A. Hi Michael. Unfortunately that's not true -- see our "Understanding Chrome Plating".

If you can find anyone to do a passable job for $150 per wheel I'd be a bit surprised.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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