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20" Polished Aluminum Rims Ruined?

Discussion in 'Stock 2011 - 2019 Ford Explorer Discussion' started by jeffreycowart, November 1, 2013.

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^





  1. jeffreycowart

    jeffreycowart Member

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    Hello all. My factory 20" polished aluminum rims are stained with what I thought was just a heavy duty tire dressing. I bought this 2013 Ex Limited from Carmax used with about 4,800 miles on it. I know the original owner was from Washington D.C.

    When I looked at the car the polished rims looked as though the tire dressing, had just been applied very sloppily up onto both front rims. 4 weeks later and I am just now getting around to giving it a good detail. I tried to clean the tire dressing off the rims and it will NOT budge! I tried 3 different "gentle" tire cleaners made for all factory clear coated rims.

    I assume the dressing has attacked the clear coat and embedded itself down into the clear coat and then brake dust got baked into the tire dressing.

    It appears the clear coat is compromised and is starting to come off. If I use any pressure with a wash sponge or use my fingernail the clear coat appears to be coming off revealing a very shiny aluminum.

    Should the clear coat come off that easy? Or did the previous owner attempt to spray some type of protective film on?

    This ONLY seems to affect the outer 1/3" of the rim. The middle of the rim is brighter and shiny-er. So either something was sprayed on the outer part of the rim, or the tire dressing has reacted with the clear coat dulling it and causing it to peel very easily.

    The rear rims are not affected, they look great!

    Here are some pictures. Any suggestions on what to do. Should I get something more aggressive and remove the clear coat now that is is dull and compromised?

    Here is the rim after using 3 different rim cleaners with a brush and sponge:
    [​IMG]

    Close up of where the tire dressing sat and ran into the rim. This is after aggressively scrubbing. You can see the shiny aluminum coming through:
    [​IMG]

    Another view of same shot:
    [​IMG]

    Here is what happens if you use your fingernail with mild pressure:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Let me know if these pictures dont show up.

    Any suggestions, are these rims ruined? Or can they be fixed and re-clear coated?

    Your help is greatly appreciated!

    Jeff
     
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  3. LukerDooker

    LukerDooker Active Member

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    That shiny surface may be the polished rim, not sure of they are clear coated or not but it has been debated here...no conclusive answer that I saw -lots of yes and no, but I didnt look it up.

    yes

    http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3068775


    no per Ford staff:
    http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3181661

    One way to find out about the clear coat is maybe to shop a dealers wheel warranties and when reviewing your vehicle over the phone, they should be able to look up the car or wheel set and tell you if they're clear coated.

    If they are, it must be spec'd somewhere, dealers would need to know exactly if discussing a wheel warranty that covers everything....

    From the pics it looks as if they can be restored but you should try to find out what the wheel surface has on it if anything, and keep track of what you used on it.
    Take care not to mix chemicals on the wheels.
     
    Last edited: November 2, 2013
  4. dco43054

    dco43054 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like something attacked the finish. They can be refinished by a good body shop.
     
  5. Bill #5 Explorer

    Bill #5 Explorer Well-Known Member

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    Just have them refinished. They will look like new. Figure about $125-150/wheel for a quality shop.

    If you have any detailing clay around, you can give that a shot (use a lubricant like detailing spray or a solution of soap and water in a spray bottle), and see how it turns out, but ultimately, those need to be refinished. No biggie.
     
  6. machine4321

    machine4321 Active Member

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    Looks like the clear is toast like others have said.

    Any one who has owned polished wheels that were not cleared knows how horrible they are to clean. I am sure they are cleared.
     
  7. jeffreycowart

    jeffreycowart Member

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    Lukerdooker per the 4th printing manual I have it does state the aluminum wheels are protected with a clear coat. Page 368 of the 4th printing:

    CLEANING THE ALLOY WHEELS
    Note: Do not use chrome cleaner, metal cleaner or polish on wheels and
    wheel covers.
    Aluminum wheels and wheel covers are coated with a clearcoat paint
    finish. In order to maintain their shine:


    Thanks for your comments. I really hate that with only 4,800 miles I have to spend $150 per tire to maintain them.

    Again this was something done by the previous owner or Carmax when they were cleaning and preping the vehicle.

    I still cannot believe the clear coat is that sensitive and will scratch off like a "lottery ticket", sure seems like a defect. Especially since only 2 of the 4 rims are affected.
     
  8. machine4321

    machine4321 Active Member

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    I say keep scrubbing and see how it goes. There is a chance that the clearcoat is ok underneath. Nothing to lose at this point. Just dont use anything to abrasive.
     
  9. LukerDooker

    LukerDooker Active Member

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    ...did it come with any Ford warranty coverage?...
     
  10. Sgt1411

    Sgt1411 Elite Explorer

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    Any chance you can find out what tire dressing CarMax used .......now that Im scared of it I want to stay well clear of it.
     
  11. jeffreycowart

    jeffreycowart Member

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    I wish warranty would cover it, but I highly doubt it.

    I bought some polishing compound and a buffer wheel. It is for sure the clear coat. The polish turned black when hitting the chipped areas.

    Best I can guess the previous owner or Carmax used a wheel cleaner or tire dressing that reacted with the clear coat.

    Or the car came from the D.C. area maybe they left salt on them for a long time...

    Still the strange thing is only the two front wheels are damaged.

    The clear coat was textured, yellowed, and can be scrapped off with your fingernail.

    The middle of the wheel looks perfect, so I suspect a tire dressing or road grim/salt.

    I don't want to fork out $300 to fix this, so I will look for cheaper alternatives.
     
  12. BKennedy

    BKennedy Elite Loser Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Polish all four and wax them after. Its work to keep it up, but the look of polished aluminum is very nice.
    You might be able to find a local company who can swap out your wheels for already repaired wheels and some $$.
     
  13. Dr Plastic

    Dr Plastic Active Member

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    This the NUMBER ONE REASON why I told the dealer I did NOT WANT the 20" POLISHED WHEELS. I have told everyone that I talk to about cars that polished wheels on cars are a MAINTENANCE NIGHTMARE! I am glad I stuck with the 18" wheels!

    That said any medium cut (1200 grit scratch or higher) and a soft cloth should take out the clear coat problems. Here in VA there is a group that will come to you and refinish your wheels right on the vehicle to include repaint and I have seen their work first hand and it is as OEM as you will get. No need to remove and transport/ship the wheels. They even come to your work and do it in the parking lot!

    Try these guys... http://www.awrswheelrepair.com/

    For a location near you....
    http://www.awrswheelrepair.com/locator.html#Tennessee
     
  14. Dr Plastic

    Dr Plastic Active Member

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    Also...

    I recommend that if you do get them cleaned up yourself, touch up the areas where the clear coat has come off with clear fiingernail polish. once water and air gets up under the coar and the aluminum it will start chain reaction corrosion and the clear coat will start to peel off!
     
  15. kenv

    kenv New Member

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    The wheels should be covered by the warranty.
     
  16. dco43054

    dco43054 Well-Known Member

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    Could have started out as brake dust, and someone tried to clean it off with a product that wasn't made for the wheels/finish.

    Hindsight always being 20/20, the best bet would have been to take the vehicle back to the seller and ask them to fix it. You might still do that anyhow.
     
  17. cnsheets

    cnsheets Active Member

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    I used AWRS here in Cali when I needed to get curb rash fixed on one of my 20" Polished Explorer wheels. They did an excellent job, took about 20 minutes. Cost was $80

    Now for your wheels, not sure what the cost may be, but its worth calling them and sending them pictures or visiting them. You might be surprised what they can do and at what cost.
     
  18. EGUY4

    EGUY4 New Member

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    Some car washes spray acid on the rims to clean them.

    They have to spray water on within seconds to neutralize the acid. A delay even for a few seconds of spraying the water on allows the acid to eat into the rims.

    Over time you will see the damage much like the pics posted here, by then its too late, the rims are ruined.

    When I go to a car wash I tell them not to use the acid solution on my rims.
     
  19. jeffreycowart

    jeffreycowart Member

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    Thanks for all the replies.
    I called several local places and no one wants to work on it. They will do minor curb rash fixes, but no one wants to strip the entire wheel and re-clear it.

    I contacted AWRS, my closest one is in Knoxville about 2 hours away. He was not much help, only told me someone sprayed something on it and to use paint thinner to remove it. I asked for a price for him to do it; no reply.

    I tried using paint thinner and a buffing bit for a drill. Made a little improvement, but still needs a LOT of time and elbow grease.

    Called several places in ATL, they will do it for $205-$265 per rim and will take 2-3 days, and they suggested doing all 4 so they look the same...

    Took it to Ford, they took pictures, but denied the claim because it looks like an improper cleaner caused the issue.

    I have found a few threads about using aircraft stripper or fine grit sand paper to strip the wheels. And a two part catalyzing clear coat from either a spray can or self leveling brush on.

    Have also seen some Rustoleum clear for wheels, but being only one part, it probably would not hold up as well as the two part catalyzed clear would.

    Guess I have a project for the spring time, as I am not going to pay $800-1000 for this repair.

    I will probably use the sand paper route as I don't want to remove the rim from the tire to do the work and would be afraid the aircraft stripper would degrade the tire rubber.
     
  20. kenv

    kenv New Member

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    ^^That`s funny!:D I told my salesman that I would not order the truck if he could not get me the polished wheels.
     
  21. Dr Plastic

    Dr Plastic Active Member

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    Have you contacted CARMAX...you do have their warranty!
     

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