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How to Fix Peeling Chrome on Wheels

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If your car’s rims or hubcaps are cracked and flaking, try this solution

wheel rim chrome paint chip peeling hubcap surface damage

Photo: The News Wheel

Shiny chrome rims look mesmerizing on a new car, but a little chip or flake can quickly result in peeling wheels. If your car has chrome-plated rims or hubcaps, here’s what you can do to fix peeling chrome before it comes a major problem.

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How to re-paint that peeling chrome on your car’s shiny wheels

Identify: Before you take action to fix your car’s peeling chrome wheels, find out what kind of wheels your car actually has and where the damage is. Are they solid alloy rims with a chrome finish that’s cracking, or is the paint on the plastic hubcap peeling? Take a close look at the wheel to pinpoint the damaged spots.

Professionals: Once you know the condition, you can talk with an authorized dealership service center to see what solutions are available to you, especially if the car is still covered under a bumper-to-bumper or special wheel warranty. They might be able to offer a resurfacing job or talk with the manufacturer to determine if you’re entitled to new rims. If nothing else, they might be able to resurface the rim for you for a price or sell you a used rim from another model they scrapped for parts.

Paint: If you have to resort to fixing the wheel yourself, you can at least prevent the damage from worsening. Use soft steel wool or wire brush to remove the paint where it’s peeling or chipping. Rinse the area and dry it thoroughly. Paint the damaged area with a rust-resistant spray paint; once that dries, you can cover it with a coat of silicone-based wheel sealant for extra protection.

The best method is to remove the hubcap or rim entirely while working on it, or else tape off the rubber wheels, lug nuts, wheel badging, and undamaged areas.

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What causes flaking or peeling damage to the finish?

It could be the result of a chip caused by a scrape against a curb, underlying deterioration from low-quality materials, or acidic wheel cleaners. Even brake dust itself is corrosive and cause damage to metallic wheels if not cleaned regularly.

One small crack or chip can spread until the chrome plating peels off, so make sure you don’t let mars on the wheel finish go untreated — especially if your car will be assaulted with road salt this winter.

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