How to determine what type of wheels you have?
Wheels are either made from a material
and you're working directly on the material, examples include aluminum and magnesium. Or wheels are coated
, so the wheels are either steel or aluminum and have been coated with another type of material and anytime you're working on this type of wheel you're working on the coating.
Magnet will tell you whether it's steel or aluminum, that's a pretty simple test that will tell you real fast the material the wheel is made out of. Below are some tips for testing to determine if there's a coating on a wheel.
Testing an aluminum wheel
| Uncoated or Bare Aluminum Wheels - You'll quickly see black residue build up on your polishing cloth |
Clearcoated Aluminum Wheels - You might see some dirt residue on your polishing cloth but it won't turn black like you'll see if it's bare aluminum.
Anodized Aluminum Wheels - Same as clearcoated aluminum, you will see a little colored residue come off, usually the color of the anodizing but it certainly won't be anything like what you'll see if you're working on bare aluminum.
Chrome Wheels - You shouldn't see any color coming off chrome except for any built-up roadgrime that didn't come off when you washed the wheel and this will tend to be kind of a dirt color, light brown. After you remove any roadgrime then you won't see any color come off the chrome at all.
Clearcoated Wheels - Since clear paint is clear, you should see no color or pigment coming off on your polishing cloth. If there's dirt or roadgrime built-up on the clearcoated wheel you'll see a little brown color coming off but that will stop once you have the roadgrime removed.
Painted Wheels - If you're wheels are painted a color and not clearcoated then if you rub a little polish onto the rim you'll see the color of the paint coming off onto your polishing cloth.
You can do this same type of test to any wheel using either a light polish, paint cleaner or metal polish. Always test in an inconspicuous area if you think the wheel might be painted, either clearcoated or pigmented paint. Oxidized Aluminum Comes Off Black Wolfgang MetallWerk™ Aluminum Polishing System
This is also a chapter in my e-book
but the e-book has more info and more pictures.