Fleets often ask us about ways to prevent rusty or corroded wheels. It’s a top priority in around-the-wheel care for important reasons: wheels need to be strong, safe, and attractive to support productivity. While strong wheels are a necessity all year long, they’re even more important during the winter months when brine, magnesium, and other chlorides eat through the finish on your wheels, exposing them to corrosion and other potential hazards.
Refinishing your wheels is a great way to strengthen them and prevent rust any time of year, but this is especially true during winter. But how will you know that your refinished wheels will last? These five tips will arm you with the knowledge to check the refinishing process your wheels go through, keeping your wheels durable and safe to support your fleet all winter long.
- Are your damaged wheels being removed? Wheels that have serious structural damage need to be retired to protect your fleet. You can inspect wheels before sending them to your service provider and catch some common wheel damages that make them too dangerous to use, such as: missing or illegible DOT stamps, cracks, or worn and distorted bolt holes. By discarding these damaged wheels, you protect the safety of your fleet before you even begin the refinishing process.
- Is your service provider using the correct blast media? Large shot is the most common reason that wheels rust soon after being refinished. If your wheels are refinished using shot that is too large, they will have an uneven and pitted surface, preventing powder coating from protecting deep grooves in the wheel. Shot that is size S330 or larger is considered by the TMC as aggressive and the cause of severe peaks and valleys that lead to rust.
- Are your wheels being inspected for hidden damage after blasting? After a wheel has been blasted, you or your service provider should check for any serious damages that were hidden under paint and debris. Some common damages to look for after blasting include: cracks, distorted bolt holes, worn mounting faces, and damaged wheel flanges. It’s also necessary to examine the deep crevices in the wheel surface to check for any debris that might not have been blasted yet.
- What is the mil thickness of your powder-coated wheels? The thickness of your wheels’ powder coat determines whether or not they are winter ready. As recommended by the TMC, a strong powder coat should be 3.5 mils thick, as that provides a thick enough powder coat for durability but will not affect the lug bolts’ ability to be properly tightened to the bolt face. We suggest you check the thickness with a Mil Thickness Gauge, which will tell you the exact thickness of your powder coating on multiple areas of the wheels’ surfaces.
- Do you communicate often with your service provider? The most important practice to ensure your wheels are safe this winter is open communication with your refinishing service provider. By understanding the process your wheels go through, you are empowered to make the best wheel refinishing choices for your fleet. Checking with your service provider about the products and processes used on your wheels takes the guesswork out of your fleet’s safety this winter. You will know whether your wheels will be prone to corrosion or fortified to perform all year long.
As a proven leader in wheel refinishing, IMI understands the challenges facing your fleet this winter. Durable refinishing is a great winter solution and will protect your fleet on the road, regardless of the weather. IMI can help you get stronger wheel refinishing services through providing the information you need or even recommending a refinishing service provider. Learn more from our experts in this HDT webinar focused on what you should know about refinished wheels.