What Causes Peeling Or Flaking On Chrome Wheels?

Written by jschafer
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Over the years, I have seen this problem many times; the chrome is peeling or flaking off - either inside the tire area or behind the face of the wheel in the barrel. This is due to several factors.

Chemical Deterioration
The first and most predominate reason for peeling and flaking of the chrome in the tire “air” area (where the wheel is suppose to hold back the air pressure from the tire) is due to the use of fix-a-flat type products. Fix-a-flat type products are the chemicals that you put into a flat tire that inflates the tire while sealing the damaged area of the tire. The chemicals from the use of these types of products interact with the chrome compounds and cause the chrome to flake or peel. It is fine to use the product as a temporary fix - which is its intended use. However if you forget that it is inside the tire, and allows for several days to pass before either replacing the tire, or having the tire fixed, you will discover that the chemical has caused the chrome to begin to let loose from the Aluminum wheel. If it is left inside the wheel for an extended period of time, the aluminum wheel itself will also start to deteriorate and will eventually cause the wheel to leak. This leak will be a slow leak - and will in most cases ruin the tire from under inflation. The only way to fix the leak is to remove the chrome with a heavy brush, have the wheel sealed with silicone (which is a temporary fix) and have it checked on periodically. The best solution is to have the wheel re-chromed, but this can be costly. The simple solution to this problem is very basic. If you have to use the fix-a-flat type product, make sure that you get your tire replaced or repaired as quickly as possible. Make sure that you tell the tire technician or salesperson that you have used the product (it’s a real mess for the tire technician otherwise) and that you would like for that person to clean the fix-a-flat product off of the chrome. Even if it is cleaned from the tire, the wheel will still need a good “bath”, if you will, to ensure that there are no future problems; then protect the surface using wax.

Salt Rust
The second most common cause of peeling and flaking chrome wheels - usually behind the face of the wheel in the barrel area, or in the actual face of the wheel itself is the salt used in the northern states for snow conditions; or salt air in coastal areas near the ocean. This will destroy any chrome wheel - given time and the right conditions. If the underside of the car is not kept clean or coated with some type of undercoating this salt will also eat the metal construction under the car and cause major rust problems with the vehicle.If you live in the northern states where snow and ice is a regular occurrence, or near the ocean, and you want to protect your chrome wheels, I suggest that you use a wheel wax weekly to protect your chrome wheels.

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