About Chrome Wheels

by Emily Beach

When it comes to the appearance of a vehicle, one thing can make a big difference--the type of wheels. Car owners that value a clean, shiny look are increasingly turning to chrome. Made of a steel or aluminum base, these wheels are covered with natural chromium through a process known as electroplating. The chrome plating not only makes the material stronger, but also gives it a highly coveted, mirrored finish that is difficult to duplicate.

History

In early automotive history, tires were made of steel and sometimes coated with nickel to increase strength and durability. These steel wheels were often painted or covered with decorative hubcaps to hide their generally dull appearance. Starting in the mid-20th century, manufacturers began to produce alloy wheels in lieu of steel. Alloy wheels are more expensive, but also lighter and allow drivers to better control the vehicle. Because they offer a better look than steel, no hubcap is required with alloy wheels. Chrome wheels are a type of alloy wheel and are a high-end aftermarket option available to car owners.

Types

Chrome wheels come in a large variety of shapes, sizes and weight. The spoke designs and patterns are endless and can even be custom-created to your specifications. Beyond these items, chrome wheels are available in three basic looks, including matte, polished and black chrome. While all three of these options offer the same basic features, they differ in appearance and the plating can be modified to any level of shine.

Benefits

The benefits of chrome plating are impressive when it comes to automotive options. First, chrome wheels are highly resistant to corrosion and rust and are able to withstand extreme weather and temperatures. Second, this material is much harder and more durable than other options, such as steel or aluminum. Finally, chrome offers a shiny, mirrored finish that can't be matched by any other material. It is highly bright and reflective and prized by car lovers.

Maintenance

While chrome wheels are known for their durability and strength, regular maintenance is required to keep them in good condition. Dirt and grease must be cleaned off monthly to avoid damage to the shiny surface. Use a professional chrome polish and a polishing cloth to maintain your wheels, making sure to do so only when they are cool so that the chrome doesn't flake.

Misconceptions

The most common misconception associated with chrome wheels comes from the term "rims." Many people mistakenly refer to chrome wheels as rims, believing that the wheel itself is made from a different material. In fact, the entire wheel, including the rim itself, is made from solid steel or aluminum, then coated with nickel and chromium to give it a solid, durable finish.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Wiki Commons