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Sparkle silver or Hyper silver, How can I tell the finish?

Stock original wheels come in various finishes. Most people have heard of sparkle, standard or just plain silver finishes on their factory original rims but there are also wheel finishes under the name hyper silver. These were originally produced as OEM parts for companies such as BMW and Audi but now are on a much wider array of vehicles. What is the difference, one might ask. The various finishes each have unique qualities that may be hard to discern but will be clarified here by none other than StockWheels.com.

Standard silver rim finishes of course should be the easiest to recognize. Imagine plain silver, no sparkle, not darker or lighter, but standard grey silver wheels. This stock option is just a basic dull silver color. This finish is often on steel wheels but also makes its place as an original finish on aluminum rims. Sparkle silver is basically the same, but with a slight sparkle as the name implies. There are metallic flakes in the paint and give the wheel a shinier, sparkly look and whether those flecks are large or small, abundant or minimal, give the OEM wheels their originality.

Hyper silver can look similar, however has slight differences. There are darker hyper silver rim finishes that often consist of a duller, darker version of silver. This finish gives the wheel a shady or smoky look caused by the dark undercoat and a light overcoat. There are also lighter hyper silvers wheel finishes, and as one could imagine, a lighter silver. These consist of a light base coat in addition to the light overcoat, which gives it a brighter silver finish. In addition to having a slight color difference, hyper silver rims do not contain any metallic flakes. However, because of the special process that is used to create these hyper silver rims, it is often hard to recondition them and create the exact same finish of the factory original wheel.

How can I tell if my wheel is steel or aluminum alloy?

Steel and aluminum refer to the material or metal the factory original wheel is made with. There are also chrome stock wheels but they are in another category. To understand the difference between the rims, you can examine a few different factors. Weight is one of the main differences between alloy rims, another name for aluminum, and steel wheels. Steel wheels are much heavier than their aluminum counterparts. This characteristic allows for cars with stock alloy wheels to maneuver better since the vehicle is lighter. Steel wheels on the other hand weigh the car down. However having used steel rims on your vehicle may lead to some advantages such as during snow season. The extra weight of steel wheels allows your tires to have better traction with the snow. This weight difference also leads to strength differences.

Although this detail may not be recognizable in distinguishing whether you have steel or alloy used rims, steel wheels are less likely to be damaged by an impact of some sort. Because of this difference in material strength, factory original steel rims often have very plain and simple designs. On the other hand, aluminum stock wheels are much more malleable. This allows for the intricate designs on many aluminum wheels. So another way to tell the difference between your OEM used wheels is to determine whether the design is as simple as five flat spokes or a bunch of holes around the rim or as intricate as 12 Y shaped spokes or 10 double spokes. However, original equipment steel rims may also come equipped with hub caps or wheel covers. These are plastic covers that give the look of aluminum wheels but don’t be fooled. Underneath this alloy rim designed like cap is still the plain and simple steel wheel.

OEM aluminum rims also come in various finishes ranging from painted to chrome to polished to machine finished. Factory original steel wheels are most likely a painted finish, unless a hub cap is placed onto the used rim.

What are "Reconditioned" wheels?

A reconditioned wheel is actually a previously used rim that had no major prior damage and has been, in essence, refinished to look brand new.

Factory original used wheels are the initial product. These OEM used rims are then carefully inspected for damage. If curb rash or face gouges are too deep it may not be deemed repairable. Additionally, the used wheels are checked to ensure they run straight and true. Significantly bent factory wheels are not able to undergo the reconditioning process and will instead be scrapped. Curb rash, light scrapes, and even other damage including minor bends or wobbles may be repairable.

Once these used rims pass the rigorous inspection, they are put through a process to return the used factory wheel back into its “fresh off the manufacturer’s line” look as much as possible. The process of reconditioning does not weaken or damage the wheel.

During the reconditioning process, the wheel will be straightened, repaired, and metal may be added if need be. Machined wheels will be re-machined to ensure the original factory look and feel. Painted rims will get painted as close to if not the exact factory color as the original. Polished wheels will get re-polished and Chrome wheels will get stripped new chrome will be applied to the wheel.

The final product is a beautiful used factory original reconditioned wheel that looks just as good as new. We stand behind our reconditioned wheels and if for any reason you did not get what you ordered, contact us right away before the wheel is mounted or used and we will do what we can to ensure your satisfaction.

Polished vs. Chrome. They're both shiny right?

Absolutely, both stock rim finishes are shiny, but a different process for each factory wheel finish is what the difference is. Both final products give a nice reflection but the factory original rims get this way in a different fashion.

Chrome OEM wheels, usually steel wheels to begin, go through a process of plating, often with various metals, with the final layer being chrome. This gives the OEM wheel a very bright and almost mirror like finish. Due to the plating process if damage is done to the chromed used wheel the process to fix it must include re-chroming the used rim, which can be costly. This process also leads to heavier wheels which can have an effect on the performance of your vehicle

Polished original wheels are actually just the aluminum of the rim sanded down and then polished to create the shiny, more colorful finish of the factory rim. Because there is no protective coat over the aluminum the wheel itself can be damaged more easily but repaired with less cost to you. Also since there is no addition of materials to the wheel, it stays lighter and performance is maintained. The choice between the two breaks down to your preference.

Maintenance is required for both finishes to maintain the OEM wheel’s durability as well as the luster of the finish. Polished wheels may need to be cared for more frequently considering there is often not a protective coat over the wheel’s finish. Chrome may begin to fall apart if not cared for and can lead to corrosion of your used rim even though its original function was to protect the metal beneath.

How do I keep my chrome in factory condition?

Having OEM chrome vehicle wheels can definitely add to the esthetic value of your car. Some effort is required in order to keep a bright and shiny finish on your vehicle wheels. Factory chrome vehicle wheels are susceptible to corrosion caused by water among other factors. To prevent this you have to keep them clean. You should wash your stock vehicle wheels at least once a week. This is especially important if you live in an area that corrosion may be more likely to occur such as climates with high humidity, high salt content in the air or areas with lots of snow or rain. In addition to washing, you may occasionally apply some kind of sealant containing wax to your factory chrome rims.

To start the cleaning process, get some cool water, add a bit of soap, and have your car in a shaded area. Cool areas allow the vehicle wheel to dry without leaving spots. Lightly spray the chrome rims to aid in the removal of dirt build-up. Avoid using ammonia or acid based cleaning products will likely damage the used vehicle wheel. Take your sponge or other non-abrasive cleaning tool and clean with light pressure. Rubbing with too much pressure can cause damage to your used chrome vehicle rim. Any abrasive material will likely damage the finish on the wheel as well.

After the initial run through, take a detailed look at the original wheel to ensure removal of all of the debris. If not all of the dirt was removed, take another run through to ensure the cleanliness of your used chrome rim. In addition, make sure that you have done your best to reach all of the parts of the chrome vehicle wheel.

Once the OEM vehicle rim is clean, allow it to air dry in the shade. After it has fully dried, wax and polish the chrome wheel. It is best to use a chrome specific wax or polish to achieve the best results. Apply a thin layer of the product to the wheel and allow it to settle. Then, gently buff the product off using a soft cloth. Polishing will brighten up your used chrome rims. Using a wax with a sealant will help to protect your stock chrome vehicle wheels. This should be done about once a month. If polishing, do the process with the polish first then follow the same process for waxing.

By following these instructions, you will be able to keep your chrome vehicle rims in top shape and keep your OEM wheels nice and bright.

What is my rim or wheel size?

Ever wonder what size the OEM wheels are on your vehicle? Well, there is a simple way to discover the size of your stock rim if you can’t remember what original wheel came with your car, and StockWheels.com is here to help! One of those simple ways is to find your vehicle’s wheel online and through comparison determine your used rim size. The issue some may come upon when discovering your wheels size this way is that some stock rims look the same or very similar to others, however they are not the same. Some measurement of the factory original wheel, whether it is the diameter, width or another, may be different.

To figure out your actual stock wheel diameter, you can simply look on the tire. For example, you see 225/50R16 on your tire, the diameter of the wheel is referenced by R16 which is a 16” diameter wheel. Some tires may also reference the diameter of the factory original wheel in millimeters. Another option to determine the diameter of your used rim is to take a tape measure and measure the length between the lip of the wheel directly across the wheel. The width however is not referenced on the tire itself and therefore a different area of the used rim must be looked at.

To find out the width of your stock wheel, you must look at the back side of the rim itself. Imprinted on a spoke of the OEM wheel is a number, such as 16x7. The “16” refers to the diameter, another way to discover this element, and the “7” refers to the rim’s width. Some factory original wheels however, more often steel, display this number on the front side or face of the rim. Another way, however less accurate, is to take the reference number on your tire 225/50R16. Instead of using the end, take 225. This number is the width of the tire in millimeters. To convert it to inches, divide by 25.4. This new number, in our case, 8.6 is a rough estimate of your wheel’s diameter. The actual wheel diameter is likely to be seven inches in this case. If you have any issues, the staff at StockWheels.com will be more than happy to help. Our knowledgeable staff on new and used stock original wheels will aid in your search to discover the size of your OEM wheel.

What does staggered wheels mean?

You may have heard the term “staggered” in reference to the original wheels of a car. When you hear this term regarding the stock rims on your vehicle you may be confused. By the end of reading this you may as well consider yourself a staggered wheel expert. To put it simply, it means that the front wheels are a different size than those on the back of your car. A “different size” refers to the width of the OEM rims. In some cases the actual diameter of the factory original wheel is different as well, although usually only by an inch. In most staggered cases, especially rear wheel drive sports cars, the rear wheels are the ones that are slightly wider than the front. For example, the stock front wheels may be 20x8 and the rear wheels 20x9.5. The reason for this is that it allows for a much better grip on the road.

If you're a sports car user, you may be interested to hear that a wider OEM wheel will allow for better breaking and turning corners. Here at StockWheels.com we have in stock thousands of factory original new and used wheels that can accommodate you if you need a staggered set of rims for your vehicle. Certain cars such as Infiniti, BMW, and Audi, are designed with OEM staggered rims. If you are unsure whether or not your vehicle requires this unique setup, feel free to send us a message at StockWheels.com. We are new and used wheel experts and we would be more than happy to help you with your questions.

Chrome vs. Chrome Clad

You may be wondering why your factory original wheels are coming “chrome clad” on your new original equipment vehicle instead of the traditional “chrome,” but this growing trend has been performed on steel wheels for quite a while now. The process is quite easy to understand and StockWheels.com has the know-how staff to answer your “chrome clad” questions.

“Chrome clad” refers to a plastic chromed hubcap, or full wheel skin, that is manufactured onto your OEM rims. The difference about this stock hubcap however is that it is permanently attached to the face of the wheel by a coat of bonding agents and sealants. The up side is that this process is quite a bit cheaper in addition to the material of the hubcap being corrosion resistant and long lasting. The down side is that because this original wheel skin is glued down, major damage to the cap cannot be simply fixed. In fact, the whole wheel often needs to be replaced if damage is done. Damage to traditionally chromed wheels can often be fixed without having to replace the entire used wheel through a process of buffing and re-chroming of the rim. Factory original chromed wheels however are of course susceptible to corrosion and the process to repair them is not necessarily the cheapest. Personal preference and the original manufactured equipment on the car are the deciding factors on whether you chrome or chrome clad but either way is a shiny ride.

How do I keep my OEM wheels looking new?

Everyone wants to keep their OEM wheels clean, but how do you maintain their factory original condition? This is not a difficult task but will require some dedication. You should wash your stock wheels about once a week to keep your wheels in the best shape. In addition, you may want to apply a sealant containing wax once a month for added protection. For factory original wheels with machined or polished finish, you may also want to occasionally apply polish to keep your wheels looking brand new.

Begin with a bucket, soap, and a hose. Put a bit of soap into the bucket and fill it with water so you have it nice and sudsy. Lightly spray your used wheels in order to remove some of the dirt, tar and brake dust build up on you stock rim. To get rid of the tar you will probably need a tar remover and you may want to get special soap designed to clean your factory wheels and keep them in the best condition. Get your non-abrasive cleaning utensil, perhaps a sponge, nice and soaked. Lightly scrub your used rim. Applying too much pressure may scratch the OEM wheel, damaging the finish on your stock rim especially machine finished and polished wheels. Rinse off the stock wheel thoroughly and examine it for any missed spots. Take the sponge back to the used stock rim to ensure all the debris has been removed.

Once the wheel has been sufficiently cleaned, you can dry the wheel off with a chamois or other soft cloth or allow it to air dry. However if you decide to allow the wheels to air dry, you will most likely want to leave your car in the shade to decrease the chance of water spots. After the stock rim has dried completely, you can add a light coat of polish or wax to bring out the shine and protect your wheel. After allowing the product to settle on the OEM rim, remove it using a clean, non-abrasive cloth. If you plan on polishing and waxing, Follow the process for polishing first, then apply the wax containing sealant to ensure the protection of you used original equipment wheel.

By keeping your stock rim clean and giving it the added protection of sealant containing wax and following these guidelines, you can ensure your used wheels’ longevity and its’ fresh off the production line finish.

What is TPMS?

If you've ever been told to check your TPMS and were unsure of what was being asked of you, you're in the right place! Here at StockWheels.com we will clear up any confusion that you may have in regards to this acronym. TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. It is an electronic system that is used to measure the amount of pressure inside of your vehicle's stock tire. The majority of new vehicles come equipped with this system and can be confirmed by reading through the car's manual as well as simply looking on your vehicle's dashboard. When one or more of the tire’s pressures are low, a warning light such as this or will appear to warn you to check them.

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This is one of the most important warning lights to pay attention to on your vehicle's dashboard because it could prevent you from damaging the stock rims of your car or, more importantly, prevent you from getting into an accident. If your tire pressure is very low, the factory original wheels will be put under a lot of stress and could have long-term effects that may lead to a necessary replacement of used rims. Also, low tire pressure has a direct negative effect on your OEM vehicle's fuel efficiency as well as performance while driving. This system is extremely helpful and recognizes the lack of pressure early enough so that you are able to get it fixed before something catastrophic occurs. If you're a do-it-yourself kind of person, you can find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle by simply looking on the side of the driver's door or in your owner's manual.

There are two different types of factory original TPMS systems, either indirect (iTPMS) or direct. Some vehicles such as the Ford Windstar and the Toyota Sienna have iTPMS. The indirect system uses information through other monitoring devices within the OEM vehicle. This tends to be problematic because it may not detect low pressure within one or more tires if all four are losing pressure equally. Other vehicles, including Corvettes, have TPMS. Direct systems have sensors within each single factory original tire which makes it a much more accurate reading. If anyone tire's pressure gets to be 25% below the recommended number, it will turn on the TPMS light on your dashboard warning you that there is a problem. Whether direct or indirect, what's important is that you maintain your vehicle's tire pressure to ensure your safety as well as the safety of your original equipment manufacturer rims.

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