Personalize your ride with a new set of wheels

hubs for tires mounted on a wall

The idea of a new car or truck is exciting. What’s even more exciting is making that new vehicle your own.

There are countless ways to personalize a vehicle, but one of the easiest ways to spruce up a vehicle is by adding a new set of wheels. In fact, wheels are typically the first thing vehicle owners upgrade on a car or truck after purchasing it from the dealership.

According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in its 2017 Market Research Report, wheels are among the most purchased items by consumers in the $42 billion aftermarket industry. Because there are many wheel options, SEMA recommends researching the various wheel types available for your specific vehicle and learning about the different wheel finish options, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here are basics about wheel finishes to keep in mind:

Painted: Opting for painted wheels will give you an endless amount of options when it comes to colors and effects, allowing you to personalize your vehicle exactly how you desire. Painted wheels are typically primed before wet paint is applied, and they are finalized with a clear topcoat to protect the paint. To minimize damage or discoloration due to heat or dust brought about by daily use, painted wheels should be cleaned with a non-acidic and non-abrasive soap that should not be allowed to dry onto the wheel.

Polished: Polished wheels are great if you want a wheel with a shiny look or mirror-like finish that is not heavy, which could aid in fuel economy. The wheel is polished to a high luster by buffing it using a machine or by hand before being protected with a high-gloss clear coat. Polished wheels can be cleaned with mild soap and dried with a microfiber towel, then coated and hand-polished with a non-abrasive wax to help it maintain its luster.

Chrome: If you want the shiniest look possible, opt for a chrome wheel. This popular and classic type of wheel finish is achieved by adding layers of metals, such as copper, nickel and chromium, to create a very reflective finish. You can easily clean chrome wheels with soap and water, then dry them with a soft cloth. To prevent dirt and dust from sticking to the wheels, add a layer of wax after cleaning them.

Powder-coated: For an extremely durable wheel finish that is resistant to scratches and fading and comes in many color options, go with a powder-coated wheel. To achieve this finish, a wheel is grounded and sprayed with a powder-coat (usually a polyester or epoxy), then exposed to heat (usually in a heating oven), essentially baking on the smooth finish. Like their painted counterparts, powder-coated wheels can be cleaned with a mild soap that should not be allowed to dry on the wheel finish. You can further protect the finish by applying a wheel sealant or coating solution.

These are but a few of the many types of finishes available in the wheel segment of the automotive aftermarket industry that can help give your vehicle an updated look. Every type of wheel finish provides variations in shine, color and required maintenance, so take the time to research what’s available. Regardless of the wheel you decide to go with, it will surely help get you on the road to creating a vehicle that meets your unique, individual needs.

Manufacturers introduce new wheels and many other products annually at the SEMA Show, the leading trade-only show for businesses in the automotive industry. Consumers can connect with some of these businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party, also known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds featuring the newest aftermarket products, including wheels, parade out of the convention center before making their way to the ultimate car show open to the public. For more information, visit

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