Are alloy wheels painted or powder coated from the factory? Should you paint or powder coat your wheels when you are refurbishing them?
(Article submitted by Street & Circuit)
Are Alloy Wheels Powder Coated or Painted?
A customer had asked us if Japan Racing wheels were painted or powder coated, when we said they were painted he was a bit surprised, so I thought it was worth doing a quick post explaining why Japan Racing wheels and most alloy wheels are painted.
Without question powder coating gives a tougher finish than painting but the issue comes when the powder applied to the part is cured/powder coated – Wikipedia has an article on powder coating here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powder_coating)
The heat in the curing process will alter the properties of the metal which can make a wheel more brittle.
Painting does not alter the properties of the metal in anyway.
So with power coating there is issue of heat and there is also the issue of price.
It is possible to powder coat a wheel and not effect the strength but this process takes time and needs to be precisely controlled. We do not know of any alloy wheel manufacturer that uses powder coating to give their wheels colour.
In summary, the majority if not all alloy wheels are painted, not powder coated and this is because of the effect heat has on the strength of the wheel and because of the cost to precisely powder coat a wheel in a way that will not effect its strength.
And a last word from BBS
We do not suggest ANY welding or heat used to cure the paint (limited to 90°C (194°F) for no more than 40 minutes).
Other than the base coat on the wheel that is powder coated, the rest of the paint process used on the wheel is a “wet” process.
When is comes to painting, the wheel should be treated like the hood of the car.
More links related to powder coating vs painting wheels
Therefore, for forged, heat treated alloys, we do not recommend powder coating except by trained expert facilities with quality systems and Brinell hardness testing systems.And we do not recommend chroming forged wheels, unless the wheel was designed for this finish. A cure temp of 375 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes will overage the alloy and begin the annealing process. This is not recommended by us, HRE, OZ, Champion Motorsports (who forbids powder coat entirely), BBS and most other forged wheel companies. This also includes the 50 or so forged wheel companies worldwide for which we supply the blank forgings.Many of these companies will void the warranty for any refinish not done under their control. We don’t blame them.As far as the OEs are concerned, if you refinish or plate a factory wheel and ANYTHING goes wrong, you are on your own: ZERO warranty.Safety and liability are the issues. We don’t know anything about your company, its processes, quality systems or technology. But if a wheel is refinished and then fails in service, or someone gets hurt, we all know who gets served with a lawsuit. The USA has 4% of the world’s population and over 50% of the world’s lawyers.