How to determine what type of wheels you have?
Now follow me, wheels are either made from a material
and you're working directly on the material, examples include aluminum and magnesium. Or wheels are coated
, this means the wheels are probably either steel or aluminum but the steel and/or aluminum has been coated with another type of material so you’re not working on the metal the wheels are made out of but in fact the coating that has been applied.
A magnet will tell you whether a wheel is steel or aluminum and that's a pretty simple test to find out what the material the wheel is made out of that anyone with a magnet can perform themselves.
Below are some tips for testing to determine if there's a coating on a wheel. To do this type of testing you need some clean, patches of soft white cotton cloth. You can cut up an old white t-shirt or an old white hand towel.
Next you’ll need a fine paint polish that is white in color.
Be sure to wash and dry the wheels first so there is no loose dirt, brake dust or road grime on the surface as this could skew your test results and you don’t want to rub dirt against the surface of the rims. What to do?
Simple, take a clean patch of white cloth and gently rub some white polish softly against a section of the front of the wheel. Then look for these results.
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.