Understanding The Causes Of Wheel Corrosion & How To Prevent It

180 Automotive is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you think that aluminum wheels are easy to maintain because they do not rust, you may want to change that perception. It is true that red rust does not appear on aluminum wheels as it does on steel.

However, aluminum, like iron, oxidizes and corrodes. This is why corrosion occurs on aluminum wheels. In this article, we summarize the causes of corrosion and how to repair or remove it.

What Causes Corrosion On Aluminum Wheels?

Corrosion, known as white rust on aluminum wheels, is a phenomenon often seen on polished wheels, which are made of aluminum material. A white line of corrosion appears and spreads rapidly, just like after an earthworm crawls on the wheel.

The cause is that the clear coating on the surface of the aluminum wheel peels off (because the clear coating may not be applied properly to areas with sharp corners such as nut holes, center holes, and digging letters, or because the coating may peel off when hit by flying stones, etc.), and moisture enters the gap between the aluminum surface and the clear coating from there.

Corrosion is caused by moisture entering the gap between the aluminum and the surface. This is why corrosion spreads in a linear pattern. Similarly, corrosion also occurs on color-coated aluminum wheels.

In the same way as white rust on polished wheels, the aluminum under the paint corrodes and the painted surface becomes rough and raised.

However, in the case of color-coated wheels, corrosion is less likely to occur due to the thicker coating, and in many cases, it is caused by the adverse effects of anti-freeze (snow-melting agent) sprayed in snowy areas.

In addition, if the iron contained in brake dust is left unchecked, it will gradually permeate the aluminum and cause corrosion.

How Should Aluminum Wheels Be Repaired Or Removed If They Are Corroded?

Repairing corroded aluminum wheels is quite difficult. Since the corrosion occurs on the aluminum part under the paint, it is necessary to remove the paint and polish the corroded aluminum in order to repair or remove the corrosion.

Furthermore, even if the corroded aluminum is polished, it is not certain whether it can be completely restored to its original state, depending on the degree of corrosion.

In addition, since the polished aluminum surface will corrode again if it is left as it is, it is necessary to apply a clear coating to protect the aluminum surface.

What Are Preventive Measures To Prevent Aluminum Wheels From Corroding?

The only way to prevent aluminum wheels from corroding is to maintain them frequently. In addition to always washing them and keeping them clean, measures such as not leaving them wet and washing off anti-freeze as soon as it adheres to them are effective.

However, it is still impossible to completely prevent corrosion on aluminum wheels. If the wheels are not clear coated, it is a good idea to polish them with a fine-grained compound when the corrosion progress is mild.

If the wheels are clear coated or color coated, it is important to be careful on a daily basis not to scratch the wheels by hitting them on the shoulder of the road or the like.

Corrosion is a concern only for aluminum wheels, which are important in terms of design.

It is recommended that you perform routine maintenance to keep the wheels in good condition for as long as possible, and if corrosion progresses, you should repair the wheels properly, including polishing.