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  • WinterChrome Care Tips

    WinterChrome Finish WinterChrome Finish

    WinterChrome™ might have the word "Chrome" in its name, but it's very important that people treat it as a totally different material of finish when cleaning their wheels.  Plain and simple, you CANNOT use the same wheel care tips for WinterChrome™ wheels, whether they are Black WinterChrome or SnowChrome™.  On the flip side of that, WinterChrome™ is also easier to clean, so that's a good thing!

    So, let's set the record straight and tell you what you CAN do to keep your WinterChrome™ wheels looking all sexy and shiny!

    What you need:

    • A non-abrasive sponge or similar material.
    • Mild soap mixed with warm water. This is the biggest change from chrome or other finishes where you might use metal polishes.  With WinterChrome™, you just want to apply mild soapy water, and then rinse it off.
      • Alternately, you can use car wash-safe cleaners (Mothers brand makes this stuff, and there's probably a bajillion others out there).
    • Micro-fiber towel.

    How often:

    WinterChrome™ is much more durable than standard chrome finishes, but we still recommend cleaning your wheels every two weeks.  Quality time with your sexy new bling-bling is well worth it, even if it makes your wife jealous.

    Instructions:

    1. Follow the instructions on whatever car wash cleaner you are using.  Remember that it's INCREDIBLY DAMAGING to your WinterChrome™ finish if you use things like abrasive dish detergents, metal polishes, or anything other than a car wash cleaner.
      • If you're not using a specific cleaner, just put some mild soap in warm water.
    2. Apply whatever cleanser you're using with your sponge, then rinse it off.
    3. Dry the wheels with a microfiber towel.

    *****

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  • Wheel Tech 101: Measurements

    Wheels may look like glorified circles, but in actuality they are very complex devices that require high-tech, precision engineering processes to ensure that they do their job.  Furthermore, millions of dollars are spent every year by original equipment manufacturers like BMW, Lexus, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche, Ferrari, Infiniti and so on to make sure that every single wheel they put on a car, truck or SUV is durable, dependable, and even stylish.

    So what makes up a wheel?

    Here in Wheel Tech 101, we'll go over the most basic elements of a wheel: its measurements.

    Width and Diameter

    These two are pretty obvious, so we won't spend much time on them.  Suffice it to say, a wheel designated as 17 x 8 is a wheel that's 17 inches in diameter and 8 inches wide.  Those particular measurements might be found on any BMW 3-series, a Jaguar S- or X-Type, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 or Wrangler Rubicon, or a Lexus SC300 or IS250.  And probably a bajillion other vehicles, too.

    Offset

    Wheel offset is simply the distance from the mounting surface of the wheel to the true centerline of the rim.  It's something that's actually pretty hard to measure without some precision tools, but it's not impossible.  Offset comes in positive and negative numbers:

    • Positive offset is closer to the fender well, and means the mounting surface is positioned IN FRONT of the true centerline
    • Negative offset means the wheeel will stick out away from the vehicle, because the mounting surface is BEHIND the centerline of the rim assembly

    Bolt Pattern

    Bolt patterns are usually written like this: 5x112.  The first number (the "5") is the number of bolts that go on the wheel (typically 4, 5, or 6).  The second number is the pitch circle diameter, which measures the diameter of the bolt circle...which, interestingly enough, means different things based on how many bolts the vehicle has.

    For 4- and 6-bolt wheels, you're measuring from the center of one bolt hole to the center of the bolt hole directly across from it.  A 5-bolt wheel requires a little geometry: mentally "draw" a circle running through the centers of each bolt hole, then measure from the center of a single bolt hole out to the imaginary circle that lays between the two opposite bolt holes.

    Center Bore (a.k.a. "Hub Bore")

    These two terms are synonymous, and measures the center hole in the wheel.  This hole is used to center the wheel on the car's hub.  Pretty simple, eh?

    Mass production of wheels means that large center bores are common, so if you are trying to fit one type of BMW wheel on a different model of BMW, you might need to use something called a hubcentric hub ring to prevent or eliminate any vibration or noise caused by there not being a perfect fit.

    ***

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  • Wheel Tech 102: Wheel Construction

    A wheel has a rim and when someone says "rim" they often mean "wheel."  Wheels and rims, rims and wheels.  It can be confusing, but really, they are pretty much synonymous with one another unless you're talking to an engineer or technician about something very specific.

    But whether you call it a "wheel" or "rims," the manufacturing process is very, very important, because it sets the baseline for durability, weight, strength, and appearance.

    Alloy Wheels vs. Steel Wheels

    Pretty much every OEM wheel you're going to find is made of an alloy composed of aluminum and other metallic substances.  Alloy wheels are more durable, stronger, and better looking than a steel wheel.  Durability means less of a chance of cracking or corroding under normal conditions, strength means longevity, and appearance means style.  Alloys are also lighter than steel, which directly leads to responsiveness, handling, and acceleration.

    One-, Two-, and Three-Piece Wheels

    The vast majority of wheels are one-piece wheels, which means they were manufactured using a single mold.  Some wheels come in two- or three-piece versions, wherein there are multiple pieces molded separately (a center and barrel, or a center, inside, and outside rim pieces, respectively) and are welded and/or bolted together using high quality fasteners to ensure there's no separation.

    Forged Wheels

    Forged wheels are stronger and lighter than your standard aluminum wheel, because they are subjected to forced compression combined with heat.

    Roll Forging

    A subset of forging, roll forging sees the use of a metal blank run through rollers.  Less aluminum is used in this process, which reduces the weight of the wheel (increasing performance), but maintaining its strength and durability.

    Low Pressure and Counter Pressure Casting

    Low pressure casting is the most common form of wheel manufacturing currently used.  This is simply the act of pouring liquid metal into a mold and cooling it to harden into its final shape.  Counter pressure casting instead sucks the metal into the mold using a vacuum rather than having it poured in, which reduces impurities and increases material strength of the wheel.

    Lug Nuts, Lug Bolts, and Wheel Locks

    Though not a physical part of the wheel during the manufacturing process, lug nuts and bolts are absolutely integral when considering the durability, strength, and appearance of your wheels.  Bolts come in three common types:

    • acorn seat (conical)
    • ball seat (radius)
    • mag shank seat

    When you are going with aftermarket or replica wheels, you may not be able to use your OEM lugs, which immediately calls into question the fitment and durability of any such wheels.  With OEM wheels, your OEM lugs (or lugs that are considered "OEM replacement lugs") can be used, ensuring proper fitment and safety.

    In Conclusion...

    ...wheel construction is a very important consideration for any vehicle owner, and it's why L.A. Wheel and Tire only deals with OEM wheels.  Original equipment manufacturers (O.E.M.) like BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi, Honda, Dodge, and everyone else have been making OEM wheels, lugs and hardware for a very long time, and spend literally millions of dollars every year on safety and durability tests.  Knowing that you are getting the best, highest quality product is very important to us, and hopefully this crash course in wheel construction lets you know that we take that dedication to you very seriously.

    ***

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  • Tire Tech 102: Numbers and Ratings

    In the previous course -- Tire Tech 101: Dimensions -- we explained what some of the most common information printed on a tire's sidewall meant.  Now that you've aced that class and are ready to graduate to the big leagues, we're going to look at some of the smaller print on your tires, and also chat a little about tire designations you might see on various websites or in the stores.

    But first, a minor digression:

    Uniform Tire Quality Grading System, or UTQGS

    The United States government established the UTQGS (Uniform Tire Quality Grading System) to assist consumers in understanding -- at least at a basic level -- the quality of the tires they can buy.  It looks at three areas:

    • Treadwear
    • Traction
    • Temperature

    These three areas are graded during safety and inspection tests, and are printed both on the tire's sidewall and on the paper labels affixed to each tire's tread when they are to be sold to consumers, so that you can easily find the information.

    So, digression over, here's where Tire Tech 102 truly begins:

    Tire Ratings

    Tire Ratings

    Treadwear

    This is a comparative rating -- usually within brands -- of the useful life of a tire's treads under controlled conditions.  Because one manufacturer may grade something as a 400 (which means it will last twice as long as a tire graded 200) and another manufacturer might grade essentially the same tire as 300 (lasts twice as long as a 150 grade wheel), it's not very useful when comparing tires made by different companies.  And you have to take into account that you probably won't be driving in scientifically controlled conditions, so who knows what kind of elements might reduce tread performance.

    Tread Depth

    Tread Depth

    Traction

    Graded AA, A, B, or C (from highest to lowest, respectively), this is a measure of the tire's stopping ability on wet pavement.  This doesn't take into account turning performance or any vehicle-based stopping performance, and is yet another test done under scientifically controlled situations, so it's really just a comparison rating.

    Temperature Resistance

    Resistance to heat and ability to dissipate heat are important  because tires are constantly under friction (which, as any physicist knows, creates heat), and surrounded by even more friction (brakes on wheels, for instance).  The grades from highest to lowest are A, B, and C, with C being the minimum required performance under federal safety standards.

    Other Designations

    There are several other designations, some of which can be found on the tire, others which might not be.  These include:

    • Service Designation: A designation of "M&S" somewhere on the tire means it is rated by the manufacturer as suitable for use in mud and snow, with guidelines set by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) in the U.S.
    • All-Season Designation: This is basically saying that the tires meet the "M&S" service designation (above) without the drawbacks of noise or rolling resistance that comes with some winter tires.  Passenger and light trucks might also meet criteria that provide superior snow performance, usually designated by a mountain/snowflake symbol on the tire.
    • D.O.T. or DOT Code: This is a numeric code (sometimes alphanumeric) that indicates the manufacturer, plant where the tire was produced, tire line, tire size, and the week/year of manufacture.
    • Maximum Pressure / Load: All tires are marked on the sidewalls with the maximum load capacity in pounds, as well as the maximum inflation pressure (just look for "P.S.I.").  Truck tires have dual and single application recommended pressure for maximum loads.

    ***

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  • Tire Tech 101: Dimensions

    We don't always show off the "and Tire" portion of our name, L.A. Wheel and Tire, but it's a pretty important part of what we deal with every day.  In a very real sense, all the wheels in the world couldn't do very much without tires (or maybe tracked treads, but that's neither here nor there).

    Tire manufacturers are pretty smart people -- engineers, designers, and the like -- and they figured out that they could save a lot of people a lot of hassle by putting some information directly on the sidewall of every tire.

    In Tire Tech 101 -- the first of our series on tires -- we'll give a tour of some of the most important bits of information that you can find on your tires, and what it all means.

    Looking at these pictures, you see the following information:

    Tire Dimensions

    Tire Dimensions

    P235/60R15 98V

    P-Metric / Non-P-Metric Designation

    If there's a "P" appended to the beginning of the information, this simply designates its a passenger car tire.  If there's no "P" at the beginning, the tire is simply engineered to different standards.  The standards are set by two organizations: the T&RA (The Tire and Rim Association) and the ETRTO (European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization).

    Section Width

    The next number ("235" in this case) measures the tire section width, in millimeters: the distance from sidewall to sidewall.  Each tire is measured to specific rim width, and because rim width is often measured in inches here in the U.S., it's helpful to convert millimeters to inches.  Divide the millimeters by 25.4 to get the measurement in inches.

    Aspect Ratio

    After the slash (/) is the aspect ratio (in this case, "60"), which compares the tire's section height -- the distance from bead to the tread -- to maximum section width.  So, in this case, the 60 means that the tire's section height is 60% of the tire's section width.

    Construction

    A letter designation follows, indicating the type of ply construction in the tire's casing.  "R" in this case stands for radial, while other designations are "D" for diagonal and "B" for belted.  Don't mix construction types on a car; you'll regret it pretty fast!

    Rim Diameter

    This diameter is the rim diameter, usually in inches.  Always match the tire's rim diameter to the wheel's rim diameter for safety and proper fit.  In this case, the number is 15, so that should tell you that the wheels this will fit on are 15" wheels.

    Service Description

    This is actually an alphanumeric combination (in this example, "98V") that gives you both the load index and the speed rating.  The Load Index tells you the load carrying capacity of the tire, and is repeated on all U.S. tires with the load limit in pounds elsewhere on the tire.  The Speed Rating is the maximum speed that the tire is rated at the load specified by the load index.  So, the example tires are rated at a "V" which means up to 149 mph (240 km).  Speed ratings work like this:

    Speed Rating / Test Speed

    • Q / up to 100 mph (160 km)
    • R / up to 106 mph (170 km)
    • S / up to 112 mph (180 km)
    • T / up to 118 mph (190 km)
    • U / up to 124 mph (200 km)
    • H / up to 130 mph (210 km)
    • V / up to 149 mph (240 km)
    • W / up to 168 mph (270 km)
    • Y / up to 186 mph (300 km)

    It's important to note that not all U.S. tires are speed rated, but most areALWAYS replace tires with equal or higher rated tires, otherwise you could be looking at some dangerous changes to performance.  Furthermore, regardless of what a tire says it's rated for, you should never break the speed limit, and you should never try to meet or exceed the listed speeds by rating.  Performance and handling can all take a hit under various circumstances, and frankly, crashing your car is no good for anybody.  Except maybe your insurance provider.

    ***

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  • Wheel Bolt Patterns: Dodge

    First of all, "bolt pattern" is defined in our article Wheel Tech 101: Measurements.  Put simply, it's a measurement -- often written like "5x114.3" -- that tells you two things:

    • The "5" tells you how many bolt holes the wheel has, and
    • The "114.3" indicates the diameter of the bolt circle (see Wheel Tech 101 for more on that).

    Note: if a wheel has two listed bolt patterns, it is NOT an OEM wheel; all OEM wheels only have one bolt pattern.

    This article provides a comprehensive listing of Dodge bolt patterns. Check out our other Fitment articles for other brands.

    If you are looking for a particular Year/Model, please take the following steps:

    1. Press the [CTRL] key and the [F] key at the same time ([CMD] + [F] if you're a Mac user).
    2. A search box will open (usually at the bottom or top of your browser).
    3. Type in the MODEL that you are looking for (i.e. "Shadow").
    4. When you find your model, look at the header immediately above to make sure you're in the right Year for that Model.

    5 x 4 (same as 5 x 100)

    1994-2004 Neon - All 5 Lug Models

    1986-1994 Shadow

    1986-1994 Daytona

    1995-2009 Stratus

    6 x 4.5 (same as 6 x 114.3)

    1998-2003 Durango

    1991-2004 Dakota

    1992-2002 ViperRT/10 Roadster

    1996-2002 Viper GTS

    1999-2002 Viper ACR

    2003-2006 Viper SRT-10

    2006 Viper SRT-10 coupe

    2009-2009 Viper SRT-10

    2009-2009 Viper ACR

    5 x 5.5 (same as 5 x 139.7)

    1985-2003 Ram Van - All 5 Lug Models

    1994-2009 Ram - All 5 Lug Models

    2004-2009 Durango - All models

    5 x 4.5 (same as 5 x 114.3)

    1994-2003 Intrepid - All Models

    5 x 115

    2004-2009 Magnum - All Models

    2004-2009 Charger - All Models

    2009-2010 Challenger - All Models

    *****

    If you are shopping for wheels, please visit us at:

    www.LAWHEEL.com or call

    1-800-584-2832 (toll free in the U.S.) or (818)-626-8867

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  • Powder Coated Wheel Care Tips

    Lamborghini with Black Powder Coated wheels Lamborghini with Black Powder Coated wheels

    Like chrome wheels, Powder Coat wheels don't require expensive commercial cleaners or compounds to stay in great condition.  As long as they are cleaned regularly -- see our related article for general wheel care tips -- you can pretty much just use some mild soap and water and call it a day.

    Here's how it works:

    What you need:

    • Microfiber towel.
    • A soft sponge.
    • Dawn dish detergent liquid.
    • Hot water, preferably in a bucket, because holding it in your hands won't help.
    • Water hose (preferably one that doesn't shoot at 1200 PSI).

    How often:

    At least once every two weeks. The longer you wait, the harder it is, and the more likely brake dust or road salts can wreak havoc on your wheels.  Consider doing it once a week just to make sure you're spending some quality time with your new wheels...they'll love you for it!

    Instructions:

    1. Use the water hose to spray off the loose dirt and debris from the wheel. Don't go full blast or use a firehose if you truly value the powder coat finish!
    2. Take your hot water and put in the bucket. Add 1/2 a cup of the Dawn dish detergent liquid to it for some bubbly cleaning power!
    3. Dip your sponge into the water/Dawn mix, and gently clean your wheels. If the brake dust proves to be stubborn like my Mom, just let the cleaning solution sit on it for a few minutes and sponge it off again.
    4. Rinse the wheels with the water hose. Remember: don't use a firehose. You'll blow your car away. Seriously, though, make sure you rinse from the top down, so dirt and suds wash off of the wheel rather than getting sprayed all up inside and around it.
    5. Dry the wheels with a microfiber towel.
    BMW M3 with Pin Striped Powder Coat BMW M3 with Pin Striped Powder Coat

    *****

    Looking to purchase wheels in custom finishes?

    Call us TODAY!  1-800-584-2832

    Or visit www.LAWHEEL.com

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    Questions, comments, concerns?  More tips?  Hit us up in the comments below!

  • General Tips for Keeping Your Wheels Clean

    BMW Z4 with L.A. Wheel chrome wheels

    BMW Z4 with L.A. Wheel chrome wheels

    Once the new wheels you bought from L.A. Wheel and Tire are installed, take note of how sexy they look.  And like anything sexy, time and care must be spent to ensure it's a lasting relationship.  With wheels, however, there's always the chance of getting a little dirt or other elements caked on, so you have to make sure you truly show your rims some love.  The best way to do that is by keeping them clean.

    Your brakes can cause dirt or brake dust to essentially cook onto the clear coating of the wheel's finish due to heat generated from friction.  If you allow this to happen often or for long periods of time, refinishing the wheel is the only thing you can do, and that's expensive.  Instead, you should spend time every week or every two weeks -- at the most! -- lovin' those wheels.  Keeping them clean is your chance to protect your investment, and also spend a little quality time with your shiny new purchase!

    The DO's of Wheel Care:

    Apply a coat of wax before you install your new wheels.  It not only protects them, it also makes them easier to clean!  No-brainer, right there.

    Most wheels come with a clear coat or painted finish; wheels from us are either chromed, powder coated, or have PVD finishes that act much like a clear coat.  Washing your wheels with a mild soap and water solution is one of the best ways to protect the finish, and we've even got instructions on how to do it!  Tar and bug removers can also be applied to prevent staining, and waxing the wheels after installation protects them further.

    Clean wheels when they are cool. If soap is applied to a warm (or worse yet, an outright hot) wheel, it could dry on and become resistant to washing off.

    Clean your tires and wheels first, one at a time.  Focus on the wheels separately from the rest of the vehicle to avoid over-spraying them or having some set longer than others with soap or wax on them.

    You need to clean your wheels on a regular (weekly or bi-weekly) basis. Wheels are often the dirtiest part of your car because they are exposed to the elements and brake dust, so don't be all lazy about it.  True love requires a little work,  man!

    The DON'Ts of Wheel Care:

    NEVER allow your wheels and tires to be steam-cleaned. You could ruin your finish entirely, or cause color-shifting and dullness to set in.

    DON'T clean hot wheels; wait until they cool. Dry soap can create film or streaking, and there's nothing cool about that.

    DON'T use household cleaners, detergents, or abrasive cleansers, abrasive cleaning cloths, steel wool pads, or polishing compounds.  There is one exception: some chrome care kits (such as one that L.A. Wheel and Tire sells) contain metal polishes and metal protector compounds that can be applied to chrome wheels, but you still don't want to use those on other finishes (WinterChrome™, Powder Coat, Hybrid, etc.).

    DON'T use any tire cleaners on your wheels.  Remember: wheels and tires may be in our company's name, but they are two TOTALLY different things.

    BEWARE OF AUTOMATIC CAR WASHES. These guys use super-heated and sometimes even acid-based cleansers that can kill your wheels' finish.  Ask the employees or a manager if the car wash is safe for your finish, but assume the answer is going to be "No" most of the time.  Clean the wheels yourself; it's not that hard, and gives you some time alone to appreciate the new love of your life!

    *****

    Looking to purchase wheels in custom finishes?

    Call us TODAY!  1-800-584-2832

    Or visit www.LAWHEEL.com

    *****

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  • Chrome Wheel Care Tips

    Dodge Viper with L.A. Wheel chrome rims Dodge Viper with L.A. Wheel chrome wheels

    While there are specific commercial cleaners available to keep your chrome wheels looking the best they can be -- we recommend our L.A. Wheel and Tire Chrome Care Kit (contact us  to get one!)-- there's still the challenge of ensuring brake dust is cleaned off before these are applied, because the dust can cause pitting or scratching.  Here's a simple, cheap way to keep your chrome in good shape to ensure the brightest shine and best protection for your chrome before you use your chrome care kit.

    What you need:

    • Microfiber towel - which comes in our Chrome Care Kit, by the way.
    • A soft sponge.
    • Dawn dish detergent liquid.
    • Hot water, preferably in a bucket, because holding it in your hands won't help.
    • Water hose (preferably one that doesn't shoot at 1200 PSI).

    How often:

    At least once every two weeks. The longer you wait, the harder it is, and the more likely brake dust could pit or scratch the chrome finish.  Always do this before applying the Metal Polish and Metal Protector that comes in the L.A. Wheel and Tire Chrome Care Kit.

    Instructions:

    1. Use the water hose to spray off the loose dirt and debris from the wheel. Don't go full blast or use a firehose if you truly value the chrome finish!
    2. Take your hot water and put in the bucket. Add 1/2 a cup of the Dawn dish detergent liquid to it for some bubbly cleaning power!
    3. Dip your sponge into the water/Dawn mix, and gently clean your wheels. If the brake dust proves to be stubborn like my Mom, just let the cleaning solution sit on it for a few minutes and sponge it off again.
    4. Rinse the wheels with the water hose. Remember: don't use a firehose. You'll blow your car away. Seriously, though, make sure you rinse from the top down, so dirt and suds wash off of the wheel rather than getting sprayed all up inside and around it.
    5. Dry the wheels with a microfiber towel... [shameless plug alert!] just like the one that comes with our Chrome Care Kit! [end shameless plug alert!].
    6. Smile and nod as you look at that sexy chrome wheel.

    *****

    Looking to purchase wheels in custom finishes?

    Call us TODAY!  1-800-584-2832

    Or visit www.LAWHEEL.com

    *****

    Questions, comments, concerns?  Hit us up in the comments below!

  • All About L.A. Wheel and Tire's New WinterChrome™ Finish

    Black WinterChrome™ & SnowChrome™ Black WinterChrome™ & SnowChrome™

    L.A. Wheel and Tire is proud to announce our new WinterChrome™ finish!  WinterChrome™ comes in two styles: SnowChrome™ (standard WinterChrome™, looks like chrome) and Black WinterChrome™ (Black PVD Chrome, looks like black chrome).

    Unlike traditional chrome, WinterChrome™ is a very durable, lustrous finish because it uses a PVD process for application (otherwise known as "Physical Vapor Deposition").  This process ends with a protective clear coat and UV-resistant shielding, that ultimately means the chrome won't color shift like cheaper chrome processes, and won't peel after a few years.

    L.A. Wheel still offers chrome, because our chrome is the best in the industry.  But even at it's best, any traditional chrome process is made to be a show-quality finish. Ours lasts a long time and is more durable than others, but WinterChrome™ is simply the most durable finish that looks like chrome.

    WINTERCHROME™ TRAITS

    • More durable than traditional chrome!
    • Resists corrosion!
    • No color shifting!
    • Environmentally friendly process!
    • "The 5 Year Simple Warranty": no fine print and even covers corrosion!

    THE WINTERCHROME™ ADVANTAGE

    WinterChrome™ represents the 21st Century way to combine the brilliant look of traditional chrome with the durability of powder coated wheels. And, as a bonus, WinterChrome™ is a "green," environmentally friendly process, using no hazardous materials and producing no hazardous waste.

    Traditional chromed wheels, look gorgeous out of the box, just like our WinterChrome™ wheels. But, in traditional chrome, the metal is exposed to the atmosphere and environment. That can result in corrosion or oxidation, which can pit the wheel and ruin the finish.

    Unlike traditional chromed or polished aluminum, our WinterChrome™ wheels will not oxidize, fade or discolor when exposed to road salts, the ocean air environment or brake dust. They cleanup easily with soap and water and make maintenance a breeze.

    SnowChrome™ vs. Triple Trivalent Chrome SnowChrome™ vs. Triple Trivalent Chrome

    Proven and Tested

    The WinterChrome™ process has passed each of nearly 50 tests prescribed by GM, Chrysler, Ford and Toyota for the quality and durability of painted wheels. [Many of these tests impose far more stringent requirements than OEMs require for chrome finishes.]

    In each case, the WinterChrome™ process met or exceeded the OEMs known requirements.

    This process was also tested against traditional chrome on board the USCG Cutter Barracuda, stationed in Eureka, California for more than a year. In this harsh environment, the traditional chrome fixtures pitted and flaked within months even with the professional care of USCG sailors. But, the WinterChrome™ fixtures still looked as good a year later as the day they were put into service.

    L.A. Wheel 's WinterChrome Process

    L.A. Wheel has implemented its WinterChrome™ technology process to provide a durable, bright, corrosion-safe finish. It also allows us to offer an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional electroplated chrome wheels. The WinterChrome™ process uses no hazardous materials and produces no hazardous waste.

    The WinterChrome™ process combines the best corrosion proofing features of powder coating with the shine and bling of real chrome to produce truly classic chrome finishes with a deep rich appearance much like our traditional triple plate show quality chrome.

    Black WinterChrome™ vs. SnowChrome™ Black WinterChrome™ vs. SnowChrome™

    The WinterChrome™ process creates a durable finish that enables the wheel to exceed the original equipment manufacturers ' warranties. As a result, L.A. Wheel can warrant the finish on the WinterChrome™ wheels for a full five years against pitting and de-lamination due to corrosion, something that is impossible to do on electroplated chrome. In more than 8 years using this process, not a single wheel has come back for warranty due to corrosion!

    The WinterChrome™ process should not be confused with cheaper PVD imitations. In the other processes, there is only a single alloy coating, consisting primarily of aluminum, one of the easiest metals to corrode and oxidize. In our two-stage WinterChrome™ PVD process, the first coating consists of a proprietary corrosion resistant alloy. Then, to get the shine and bling of real chrome, the second coating is pure chromium. This patented process has been field tested years longer than other PVD process with outstanding results. That is why we can offer the best warranty in the business, one which even covers pitting and flaking due to corrosion!

    1. First, we inspect the wheel to make sure it is round and true to factory specifications. Then,
    2. We strip any paint from the wheel and, if necessary, we polish the wheel to remove cosmetic blemishes and provide a smooth surface. Then,
    3. We clean the wheel in a soap bath to remove dirt and polishing compound. Then,
    4. We preheat the wheel to remove any gases in the alloy that might out-gas and form bubbles during the remainder of the WinterChrome™ process. Then,
    5. We apply and cure a special wheel grade hybrid powder coat to provide a smooth substrate that adheres well to the aluminum in the wheel and that will accept the metal coatings in the following steps.
    6. After all this preparation, the wheel is ready to be placed in to into a Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) vacuum chamber for the patented finish process.
    7. In the PVD chamber, after evacuating the atmosphere, we excite a special corrosion resistant alloy, and the excited molecules are vacuum deposited on the wheel.
    8. After the corrosion resistant layer has been deposited, the chamber is evacuated again, and then real chrome is added, excited and vacuum deposited.
    9. Next, we apply an acrylic powder clear coat to preserve and protect the finish.
    10. Finally, the wheel is inspected and polished to a high luster so we can ship a wheel with the best combination of beauty and durability available.
    BMW M5 with L.A. Wheel WinterChrome™ finish BMW 5-series with exclusive WinterChrome™
  • How L.A. Wheel and Tire Powder Coats Wheels

    Black Gloss Powder Coat Black Gloss Powder Coat

    In a previous article, we talked about the benefits of Powder Coating your wheels/rims with L.A. Wheel and Tire's high quality and high-tech processes.  And while it's nice to see all the cool colors and textures, some people like to get behind the "science" of powder coating, and really see the specifics: temperatures, times, inspection criteria, etc.

    Well, this article is for the gear-heads among you! But first, watch the video!

    Check out the video to see the process, accompanied by our in-house musical talent!

    The Powder Coating Process

    STEP ONE: First, our wheel experts inspect the wheels to assure that they are round and true, and free of any corrosion or cracks.

    STEP TWO: Before applying the Powder Coat, we carefully prepare the surface of the wheels. [Proper prep takes a lot of time, but it is essential to getting a good finished result.] That means chemically stripping the surface and media blasting it to a 0.7 mil anchor profile, which makes for a strong, lasting mechanical bond, and an even, durable finish. We also carefully mask the mounting surfaces of the wheels so as to avoid interference with fit and the attachments for the wheels.

    STEP THREE: Then, we prebake the wheels at 375 degrees for 20 minutes to “outgas” impurities that would adversely affect the finish. Prebaking is done at the same temperature as the curing bake to assure that impurities that might otherwise ‘bubble-out” in the final curing are removed before the powder is applied. Temperature is kept below 400 degrees to prevent softening of the aluminum. Baking and pre-baking are done in large, industrial convection ovens with tight control over temperatures and the rate of change in temperature.

    STEP FOUR: After pre-baking, the wheels must be slowly cooled down to less than 180 degrees before the “powder” is applied.

    STEP FIVE: The wheels are then hung on a double strand of conductive wire around the barrel of the wheel.

    STEP SIX: “Powder” (a mix of very finely ground pigments and resin) is then “fogged” at low pressure onto the wheels. Low pressure can be used since the nozzle, (either a corona gun or a tribo gun, depending on the finish being applied) imparts a strong electrostatic charge (between 10-90,000 volts) to the powder opposite to the charge that the conductive wire gives the wheel. The wheel literally attracts the powder, which makes for a uniform coat even in crevasses and other recessed areas.

    STEP SEVEN: Following a careful, even application of the proper powder, the wheels must be slowly brought up to 375 degrees and baked for 30 minutes to properly cure. We carefully monitor the baking temperatures in our state of the art ovens.

    STEP EIGHT: Finally, the wheels must be cooled at a controlled rate to get a strong, even finish.  This process creates a final DFT coating of 1.5 mil.

    STEP NINE: Then, the wheels are inspected at least twice (by both our Powder Coat artists and by our wheel experts) before being packed with custom foam inserts to protect them during shipping.

    THE FINAL STEP OF AWESOMENESS: The wheels arrive at your doorstep, and you are the proud owner of some amazing, custom powder coated wheels that will make your neighbors jealous!

    Click some pictures in the gallery below to see some of the amazing effects you can get with Powder Coating!

    *****

    Want wheels like these? Please visit us at:

    www.LAWHEEL.com or call

    1-800-584-2832 (toll free in the U.S.) or (818)-626-8867

    *****

    Comments, questions or concerns?  Don't hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us!

  • Chroming Wheels the L.A. Wheel and Tire Way

    Chroming Process

    Here at L.A. Wheel and Tire, we use state-of-the-art technology, proven methodology, and the best-performing, most environmentally-focused chroming facility in Southern California (a state that also happens to have some of the most stringent environmental policies in the world). From our semi-bright and particle nickels (the most expensive part of chrome plating), to our special anodes that allow chrome to get into all nooks and crannies of the wheel, we spend on average 20-30% more to chrome plate a wheel than just about anyone else out there. That's a difference you can see, and as they say, "seeing is believing."

    *****

    It all begins with a simple aluminum wheel...

    Each one is individually inspected on a high speed balancer to make sure it's perfectly straight and round and within factory tolerances. Any wheel that fails this inspection is scrapped. Wheels that are cracked, corroded, have been welded or involved in an accident are also automatically scrapped. Once a wheel passes this inspection, it is engraved with a unique number for tracking purposes and is then sent off to get stripped. All of the dirt, grime, brake dust, paint, clear coat, and any other finish is completely removed, so you're left with a totally bare, "raw" aluminum wheel.

    This "raw" wheel is hand polished in our own in-house polishing shop. Most companies outsource their polishing due to lower cost, but we do it ourselves to make sure the end result is a perfect wheel, one that has a mirror-like appearance. Hand polishing removes any imperfections on the surface of the wheel and prepares it for the plating process. Plus, we are very picky (because we know you are) and it's very hard to control quality of another polishing shop.

    At the first stage of the actual plating process, the wheel is cleaned in a special soap bath to remove any polishing compound and then rinsed again in an alkaline bath. After this, the wheel is placed into a zincate bath, after which it is rinsed again to prepare it for a second zincate bath. All of our wheels go through a double zincate bath in order to achieve the tightest, most uniform application of zincate, which will then result in the smooth surface.

    (Continued after the break)

    After the second  zincate bath and subsequent rinse, the wheel then goes to the  Sulfamate nickel strike bath. This is a very important step, and also the step most companies skip, since this special type of nickel is very expensive (some use the less expensive Watts nickel). We do not dilute this solution with any other chemicals, and we also keep the nickel strike bath very clean to ensure the best possible bond of nickel to the aluminum surface of the wheel. Compare this layer of nickel to a primer paint laid down first. If this step is not done properly, the chrome finish will not stick to the wheel, just like paint won't stick to the body of your car if it's not primed first.

    Coming out of the nickel strike bath, the wheel is placed into a copper bath. This bath is filled with a special type of copper called "Acid Copper". Acid Copper helps fill any imperfections in the metal of the wheel. Then this copper layer is hand buffed to smooth out the surface to a high luster finish.

    After this bath, the wheel is ready for the most important step:

    Nickel bath (or actually baths)!

    This is what makes or breaks the chrome wheel. L.A. Wheel and Tire uses FOUR types of nickel!  The wheel is first submerged in a semi-bright nickel bath for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size). Most companies will only leave a wheel in this bath for 5-10 minutes to save money on nickel, and then completely skip the other 2 nickel baths (more on that later). Nickel is very important, since it's the only thing that gives a wheel it's corrosion resistance.

    Imagine yourself going to the beach every day, in the blazing heat, without any sunscreen. Sooner or later you will get sunburn...or worse (hopefully not, though). Nickel is like a sunscreen for the wheel:  it protects it from the elements such as brake dust, car wash chemicals, harsh weather conditions and much more. The semi-bright nickel bath is then followed by 14-16 minutes of bright nickel and then 1-2 minutes of micro-porous nickel. These last two are the ones most companies skip altogether, leaving you with a wheel that's prone to corrosion and peeling.  In order to give you a 5 year warranty, all of our wheels go through ALL 3 of these nickel baths.

    Believe it or not, the wheel is still not ready yet...

    Following two more rinses, the wheel finally goes into the chromium bath! This is what you know as the "chrome" look and is what gives the wheel that amazing "bling bling" shiny appearance.

    This step is quite easy, since it was all the preceding steps that had to be done right in order to prepare the wheel for it. Just 1.5 minutes in this chromium bath is all you need. Of course the wheels are still rinsed twice again, and then hand polished and inspected for any defects before being boxed up and shipped to your door step.  Ta Da! All your neighbors will run over and ask you where you got your wheels from.

    We hope you enjoyed the tour!

    *****

    Want wheels like these? Please visit us at:

    www.LAWHEEL.com or call

    1-800-584-2832 (toll free in the U.S.) or (818)-626-8867

  • The Benefits of Powder Coating Your Wheels thru L.A. Wheel and Tire

    Green Powder Coated Wheel Green Powder Coated Wheel

    Many customers can't resist the lustrous shine of our exclusive, trivalent triple chrome finish, but plenty of people are fans of the sportier custom look and durability of a fine powder coat finish. Finally, with L.A. Wheel and Tire's Powder Coat Wheel Exchange Program, you don't have to pay for both new wheels and a new finish. Our exchange program helps you save 50% or more of the cost of buying new Powder Coated OEM factory wheels, and you don't even have to send us your wheels for powder coating first!

    Powder Coating gives wheels a very strong, durable finish that can be delivered in almost any color imaginable. Our custom Powder Coat finish withstands the road and driving environment better than paint, and provides corrosion resistance from road salts, brake dust residue, and other chemicals. To put it simply, our Powder Coating process shows excellent resistance against peeling, cracking, fading, nicks and minor abrasion. It has excellent uniformity without sags, drips, or other surface irregularities.  Read more about the process itself in this article (i.e. click there!).

    L.A. Wheel and Tire Kicks the Competitors to the Curb

    We stand out from the pack in four ways:

    1. We are not generic powder-coaters who happen to do wheels on the side. We are the OEM factory wheel experts, known internationally for our knowledge, quality, and customer service.
    2. We have a commitment to Five Star customer service, making your satisfaction our number 1 priority.
    3. Our exclusive best-in-the-industry processes let us provide the highest quality Powder Coat finishes for our wheels.
    4. We do all of this at prices that can be more than 60% cheaper than dealerships because of our huge stock of wheels and excellent network of providers. In fact, we do some of the custom work for the dealers, so why not come to the source?

    Check out our cool video of the powder coating process!

    Powder Coat Finishes

    The sheer variety of possible powder coat colors and textures is staggering, but we can give you a few ideas.  Here's our "standard" variety of colors:

    • High Gloss Black
    • Semi Gloss Black
    • Soft Gloss Black
    • Satin Gloss Black
    • Flat Black
    • Texture Black
    • Bengal Silver
    • White
    • Bronze
    • Graphite Grey

    And as if that weren't enough (it's not!), you can take a closer look at the pictures below to see a whole lot more:

    Primary Color Wheel Click to enlarge - Primary Color Wheel
    Metallic Color Wheel Click to enlarge - Metallic Color Wheel
    Textured Color Palette Click to enlarge - Textured Color Palette

    *****

    Want Custom Powder Coated wheels like these? Please visit us at:

    www.LAWHEEL.com or call

    1-800-584-2832 (toll free in the U.S.) or (818)-626-8867

    *****

    For more info:

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