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Chevy rims getting hazy

11 replies created over 8 years ago
posted by tomchung over 8 years ago

Every once in a while, we get cars that have "matt" finish looking alloys that gets cloudy on the rims. Especailly Chevy. They claim that it wasn't like that before.

Is it the wheel cleaners that make those rims get coudy?

Or is it the natural wear and tear from oxidations and etc?

What exactly is causing it?

And more importantly, what is the remedy?

Thank you!!!!



reply by Jon S over 8 years ago

It sounds like chemical flashing. Most likely a hot solution on a hot wheel. What I mean by a hot solution, is one that is too strong. What type of wheel cleaner are you using? Is it applied by hand offline or by machine diring the wash process?

reply by over 8 years ago

I have had this in the past also. I have found it is one of two things A. The rims are uncoated aluminum and designed to be polished to keep them shiny. When the wheel cleaner hits them they turn cloudy. B. The clear coat protect ant on the rim has wore off and you are getting the same thing that is causing the cloudy look as a non coated rim. I have trained the guys to what type of rim they are dealing with and warning the customer before applying wheel cleaner. To get them shiny again I have used a aluminum wheel polish made them look brand new.

reply by tomchung over 8 years ago

So, what puzzles me is that if it was the chemical, wouldn't you think it would happen to all the Chevys? Most of the time, we have no problem with the same type of rims. Only once in a while we have this problem. I have also had this happen. 3 rims were okay, but only 1 rim looked cloudy. Other 3 was bit cloudy but not as bad as the other one.

Therefore, my conclusion has been that it must be loosing some sort of coating or oxidizing or something more long term than one time wash.

As for fixing, I know I could make it look good with rim polish. But that is smoke and mirror. As soon as she go through the wash, it gets cloudy again. I think I'm going to use fine steel wool and just pick at it. Can anyone tell me if this is safe to do before we start?


reply by tomchung over 8 years ago

I just saw another Chevy go through tunnel. I looked at the before and after and it is fine. So, it's not chemical for sure.

reply by 2GreatCarwashes1ConvienientLocation over 8 years ago

I think your flashing the rims for sure, especially the chevy ones, we cool them off with the gun before putting chem on them

reply by tomchung over 8 years ago

So "flashing" means sending temperature hot wheels through? But Flashing only occurs on Chevy?

So what is the cure for "flashed" rims?


reply by Jon S over 8 years ago

The damage you see is to the clearcoat. It really shows up on the silver painted wheels found on many GM products. Do not use steel wool on clearcoated wheels. Use some light compound and hopefully over time they usually disappear. That being said, you still need to change your process or you will continue to have damage issues. If you are applying the product before the wash process, you need to find a cleaner that won't flash. If you don't want to use another product, then you need to cool the wheels with water before you put the cleaner on the wheel.

reply by PanamaJim over 8 years ago

Difficult situation...take some pics with your phone and post them here.

Without more info it could be bare aluminum wheels oxidizing...clearcoated wheels oxidizing or just aging. Most liquids that flash dry leave a spray or drip pattern like evidence of what caused it. I've seen some wheels that dog pee has damaged.
Strong, caustic, alkaline tire cleaner can be the culprit...especially on a hot day. If that is the problem try a solvent based cleaner, like something with d'limonene. Solvent based cleaners are safer, actually leave a sheen on the wheel but are more expensive. Or increase the size of your jets to get more liquid out. I prefer not to wet the wheel prior to wheel cleaning because it dilutes my product.

The years I used inexpensive buffered caustics, I would usually adjust my tire soap dilutions every spring and fall, when the temperature changes.

reply by Robert Roman over 8 years ago

Here are a couple examples.

I'm restoring a 1995 Chevy Camero with 130,000 miles on it. The vehicle has been maintained very well. However, the coating on the rims has worn thin and is virtually gone. The wheel paint underneath and remaining is porous, oxidized to a certain extend and now easily absorbs whatever gets on it. When the rims get hot/warm and something gets on them (i.e. soap solution, tri-foam, etc.) the paint flashes, a colored appearance usually a hazy white, like fog. The rims have also stained purple from the dye in tri-foam.

In most cases, you can remove the haze and retard the flashing process by applying hand wax to the rims. Of course, when the wax wears off, the problem returns.

I have also owned several new Chevy Impala's and a Mercedes C-230 sport coupe with the aluminum, clear-coated rims. Within one year, the rims on all of these vehicles hazed when taking them through any type of conveyor or in-bay automatic carwash. My opinion is that the quality of the clear-coat on the rims was poor. By comparision, the rims on my neighbor's Honda Accord never haze over.

reply by tomchung over 8 years ago

So we swtiched from HF based wheeler cleaners to non-HF based cleaner called Blitz. I think it's from Simonize. Anyways, if it was the strong chemical, then hopefully, this should help.

Again, this doesn't happen often enough for us to worry. Maybe two or three per year. They look more cloudy than run-offs. I told the customer to come back so when she comes back we'll try the solvent based solution. I was told that if we soak the rims with our APC used up front line and let it sit for couple of minutes, then it will just wipe off. I'm praying that it'll work.

But like Robert said, I'm leaning more towards this being poor rims to begin with. And it is several years old. But then again, we have many old Chevys come and we have no problem like it.

I don't have the pic but when she comes back and if I catch her, I'll take pic and post.


reply by PanamaJim over 8 years ago

HF is probably the cause. Cheap, cleans fast, but dangerous. In the 70's, when the wheel brightner service just began (the days of the chrome wire wheel), we went through barrels of the stuff. I can remember all we had to sell those days was hot wax or wheel brite, no fragrance even and armorall...well that was for the detail shop only.

If it has stained a clear coat, I'm afraid you are going to have to buy some wheels. The only method I found to safely apply hf is as a second application farther in the tunnel, after the wheel has been cooled off and had an alkalie application of tire cleaner. But then you still run the risk of the your delivery pump running amuck and loading the air with acid mist. IMHO...not worth the risk anymore.

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