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"GM blames me for peeling chrome wheels!"

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Aftermarket Chrome Rims are peeling

Q. I bought a wheels and tires package from a company in California. Everything has been fine until today when I was washing my car, one of my wheels has a small piece of chrome peeling off. I know I have some type of warranty or something. My wheels cost me about $2000 and I don't think the chrome is supposed to just peel off after a while. What should I do? I trying to contact the company at the moment. Please respond.

Nick Johnson
- bowling green, Kentucky

A. No, the chrome is not supposed to peel. Any reputable firm will replace the wheels at no cost to you.
Even if you dragged the wheel edge along a curb, the chrome coating should adhere to the underlying base metal.
Best wishes,

tom pullizzi animated    tomPullizziSignature
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

A. Hi Nick. I'm agree with Mr Tom. The chrome plating should not peeling from the wheel. Go back to the plating company and make a complaint. Best wishes,

Anders Sundman
Anders Sundman
4th Generation Surface Engineering
Consultant - Arvika,

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Q. We are having sporadic problems with the chrome peeling off of aluminum auto wheels. I have been told that the brake dust from the disk brake pads can cause it if the dust is allowed to stay on the wheel for an extended period of time. Does this sound correct?

Trey Chanter
- Portland, Oregon, USA

A. It is true that the cleaner a surface is kept the less prone it is to corrosion because there are fewer differential oxidation areas. And it is possible for certain foreign agents to accelerate corrosion, maybe even cause pitting.

But no, it's not correct. It sounds like a tall tale to assuage you. Peeling occurs because of inadequate adhesion, which translates to something improperly done at the plating shop. It's a manufacturing defect.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

thumbs up sign Thanks, I thought so!

Trey Chanter [returning]
- Portland, Oregon, USA

A. Hi Trey ,

Intermittent problems with plating peeling on Aluminium Alloy Wheels is most commonly traced to the following factors:

1) Poor attention being paid to the Zincating step (s) prior to the initial "Strike" plate

2) Contamination of the "Strike" bath with Zinc from the Zincating Stage

3) Insufficient thickness in LCD areas of the wheel .

There are of course other causes but these are the major causes found in "aftermarket" wheels .

Best regards

John Tenison-Woods
John Tenison - Woods
- Victoria Australia

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Q. Is there any way to prevent any further peeling on chrome wheels if it has already started to peel?

Melvin Padilla
consumer - Bedford Hills, New York

A. Sorry, there is not. It is a manufacturing defect, and if they are not old, and you have not damaged them with curb rash you should demand your money back.

Our on-line article, "Understanding Chrome Plating", includes several pictures of peeling chrome plating, and a detailed discussion. Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Q. I have a 2005 Subaru Legacy and it comes with aluminum wheels. Two weeks ago I was taking it to the car wash and missed the guide by a bit and the wheel rubbed up against the metal guide. I didn't think much of it because I have had chrome wheels before on other cars and had maybe a little scrape in such a circumstance. In this case a good portion of chrome just peeled off of the rim. I believe while the catalyst for this happening was me rubbing up on the wheel guide that the chrome on a 1 month old car shouldn't just peel right off. I feel as though the company that did the chroming should at least help out in the cost of the repair of the wheel.
Below is a picture of the 'damage'. Am I being unreasonable saying that this shouldn't have just came off like this?


David J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Car Owner - Naperville, Illinois

A. There are two slightly different issues here David -- the first one on you, but the second on them.
First, aluminum is soft, so chrome plated aluminum wheels are as delicate as flowers -- rub a wheel on the curb or anything and it's going to ding the aluminum and pull the chrome off in that area. That's on you.
But from this distance and the facts you've presented it certainly looks like the chrome plating is manifestly defective. Chrome plating should not peel. Period. And thanks for the photo, I've never seen a better example of separation of the nickel from the copper :-) If one of your other wheels that hasn't touched anything were to peel you would have a very good case; this one's a bit tougher because you did in fact damage the wheel. How can you really ask for a new wheel to replace one you've damaged?

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. You are exactly right! that definitely looks like a bad chrome job to me.

Don [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
metal finishing shop - Springdale, Arkansas

A. I think your point is very valid. Although in their defense they will most likely say that, "it's newly chromed, it's susceptible to damage easily". B.S if you ask me. They should definitely help you out on that repair. I purchased a 2000 Nissan Maxima about 3 years ago. I purchased 20" chrome rims, I had them for less then a year, and the chrome began to peel off. I would wipe them down and chrome flakes would come off on the rag. I contacted them and they said it was a one year warranty. Very upsetting, however I plan on powder coating them soon. Good luck with that. You deserve to win this one, guy!

Aaron [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hawthorne, California

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Q. Bought 4 chrome wheels at the end of the summer and now I go to put them on my car and they are peeling and it looks like the rims have a rash. Where I bought the rims they SAY I USED TO HARSH OF A CLEANER ON THEM. NEVER happened. What causes my rims to get a rash.
Thanks, Paul

Paul Gonyou

A. If nickel-chrome plating peels rather than pitting or corrosion, it is virtually always the fault of the plater, virtually never the fault of a cleaner or other environmental condition. When you say "rash", that sounds like corrosion (the aluminum corroding under pinholes in the plating); that part could be related to environmental factors but might not be. I would start with the assertion that the plating was defective from the get-go as evidenced by the peeling.

Reliable chrome plating of aluminum wheels is very difficult! But I say stay out of the business if you can't do it right :-)

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

MKW43 Peeling Rims

Q. I'm sending these pics to you for your opinion on why you think these rims are peeling and help in what to do next.


I bought these rims in 2006. They are MKW43's. They have never seen snow, dirt, or neglect. I had them on my car for three months then they were taken off for the winter.

I put them on the next year, 2007, and after a month they started to peel. The place I bought them from would not do anything for me and told me to go to the manufacturer and to deal with it on my own. I sent these pictures to the manufacturer and they told me by three people that they looked to be warrantied and to send them out, however, they would not pay for the shipping. I finally decided to pay the shipping and paid to have them sent out there and back with prepaid labels. After receiving them they told me that it was not covered under warranty because of brake dust or the removal of the wheel weights, however, it is not near the wheel weights. They don't see it as a manufacturing defect for some reason.

I would like to see what you think. There is only three that are doing it. When we first bought them one was dented so we got a replacement for this rim. It seems so clear that these three were just a bad batch and thus a manufacturing defect. I have brought them to another dealer and they found no pitting as well. Please let me know if you have any information or help in regards to this situation. I just wanted them to be re-chromed especially if this is a manufacturing defect, however, I feel I am getting cheated in this situation.

Lucas Aguirre
Hobbyist - New Richmond, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
June 2, 2008

A. Brake dust is bad for chrome rims, but it should cause pitting, not delamination.
You could take them to small claims court, but a verdict in your favor is not worth the paper that it is written on if they choose to ignore it.
There is a fairly high probability that you are being cheated, but no one can make a total statement without physically seeing the rims.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

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