Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

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ralphgonz
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Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Mon Oct 02, 2017 5:51 am

I have a 2009 Vibe with what I thought were chrome or polished aluminum wheel covers. On closer inspection they appear to be plastic (?), with decorative (fake) nuts around the perimeter. I would like to remove them for painting but am confused about how to get them off without breaking.

They are NOT held on by the lug nuts and they appear to wrap the actual hub metalwork. Can I just pry them off around the edges with a screwdriver? Are they glued in place!?
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ehoff121
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ehoff121 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:09 am

One of our 2nd Gen members could confirm, but I'm pretty sure the only plastic on that wheel is the center cap. The rest of the wheel is aluminium alloy.

The mark at 9 o' clock in the second picture is the Japan Light Wheel Alloy certification.
2005 Pontiac Vibe AWD - Platinum

ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:33 am

Very curious! Are you sure the JWL mark doesn't refer to the underlying wheel, and that it is still clad in chrome-plastic? Based on some chips around the edge and the sound it makes when you hit it with a screwdriver it really seems like one of these plastic-clad designs: https://etools.org/Cladwheels. Also see this topic: viewtopic.php?t=28448

ehoff121
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ehoff121 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:20 pm

Learn something every day! I didn't know there were chromed plastic cladded wheels. That mark probably does refer to the aluminum part.

I wouldn't try to separate the cladding. How would you get it back on? :?

I've been refinishing my 1st gen 16" alloy wheels with the tire still on using the Rustoleum High Performance Wheel paint products. I think they make a chrome spray if you want to try it: http://www.rustoleum.com/en/product-cat ... s/metallic
2005 Pontiac Vibe AWD - Platinum

ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:50 pm

I think that's exactly what I'm going to do: remove the wheels from the car, mask off the tires, remove the center cap, and spray paint them. I'm actually looking to get away from the chrome look and go to black. My first time doing this so hope this is the right process...
  • rough them up with 0 or 00 steel wool
  • apply a spray adhesive promoter (Dupli-Color Adhesion Promoter)
  • spray paint (Dupli-Color gun metal wheel coating -- EDIT I ended up using silver color)
  • matte topcoat (Dupli-Color wheel top coat)
Last edited by ralphgonz on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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tpollauf
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by tpollauf » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:16 pm

ehoff121 wrote: I didn't know there were chromed plastic cladded wheels.
Same here. I thought they were 100% aluminum but just polished! Also these were suppose to be rims available on the 2009-10 AWD models only!
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SeattleJeremy
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by SeattleJeremy » Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:45 pm

Good old GM Chrome Tech :ugeek:
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ehoff121
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ehoff121 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:26 am

ralphgonz wrote:I think that's exactly what I'm going to do: remove the wheels from the car, mask off the tires, remove the center cap, and spray paint them. I'm actually looking to get away from the chrome look and go to black. My first time doing this so hope this is the right process...
  • rough them up with 0 or 00 steel wool
  • apply a spray adhesive promoter (Dupli-Color Adhesion Promoter)
  • spray paint (Dupli-Color gun metal wheel coating)
  • matte topcoat (Dupli-Color gun metal wheel top coat)
Does the adhesive promoter's directions say you should rough up the surface first? I'd be worried about all those scratches showing unless it is a filler, too...

Maybe a sandable primer? That should take care of steel wool swirls.
2005 Pontiac Vibe AWD - Platinum

ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:03 am

To set the record straight, there are essentially 3 layers as shown here where the previous owner hit a curb: The alloy hub itself, the plastic wheel cover which appears to be glued to the hub, and a thin layer of aluminum/chrome foil wrapping the wheel cover:
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So what you're looking at is real aluminum (foil) on the surface, and I found it polishes up real nice with fine steel wool. I'll post photos of the results from painting it later this weekend.

ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:17 am

I got cold feet about painting the wheels a dark or black color, because I still like the lighter metal color and because I was concerned that scratches and wear would be more visible. So I went with silver color.

Here is the wheel prepped for painting. Someone at work suggested this trick using playing cards to mask off the tire:
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I applied 3 coats of Dupli-color adhesion promoter, 3 coats of Duplicolor silver wheel coating, and a couple coats of Duplicolor matte wheel clear coat (I'm not sure how important the clear coat is, and left it off the wheels on one side of the car because I was in a hurry.) Here is before and after.
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ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:21 am

Here are before and after photos showing three changes: (1) painting the wheels silver, (2) painting the front grille trim black, (3) painting the roof rack plastic boots black.
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Some people might prefer the "before", but I'm happy with the results!

ehoff121
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ehoff121 » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:25 am

Maybe it's because I'm re-painting my wheels, but I like the new look!

Nice job!!
2005 Pontiac Vibe AWD - Platinum

ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:34 am

To complete the look, I also "dechromed" the Pontiac emblem and the fog light surrounds (in addition to the grille surround done earlier) by masking, spraying adhesion promoter, and spraying black.
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ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:50 am

Topcoating is worth it! All the wheel covers still look great EXCEPT this one that did not get any topcoating. The silver paint started wearing off about 6 months in, and here it is after 14 months with the shiny chrome showing through:
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zbyers
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by zbyers » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:56 am

great work. the wheels look nice.
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Jbenrod
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by Jbenrod » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:53 pm

You might have had better adhesion by just sanding the covers with a 400-500 grit and spraying a sealer or maybe even just the paint itself.

My guess is that the Dupli-color adhesion promoter does not work unless you are applying it directly to plastic - and not on top of the previously painted surface of these wheel covers. I purchased a can of that product and after further research, never used it. The technical department at Dupli-color did not seem to know if you can use a urethane paint on top of their adhesive promoter. They said if using their adhesion promoter, to use only their brand of paint for the final coat which I wasn't going to do so I just ended up going with a different system.

Fwiw, I had very good luck refinishing some old plastic wheel covers by sanding to remove most of the paint, filling in any large scratches or blemishes with a glazing putty (that is the red product in the first picture), then sealing the covers with an epoxy sealer (i.e. epoxy primer that is thinned down) - this step is not pictured; and then a final top coat of a single stage silver urethane.

However, one can easily have $80-100 just in material cost as I did. After two years, the paint has not come off except a small area where I ran up against the curb (which would have damage an alloy wheel as well).
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ralphgonz
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by ralphgonz » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:16 pm

Your wheel covers look great!

The title of the thread is a little misleading. As noted above, my wheel covers are indeed plastic but they are wrapped in chrome, so the Dupli-color adhesion promoter was applied to the chromium surface. The product is intended for plastic or chrome.

The remaining three wheels still look great so the procedure I used was ok as long as you apply that final topcoat. That said, there is possibly a better procedure to get paint to adhere permanently to chromium.

Jbenrod
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Re: Plastic wheel covers, how to remove and paint?

Post by Jbenrod » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:28 pm

Oh now I think I understand, that one cover that doesn't look so good you did not apply the Duplicolor matte wheel clear coat as a final step. That is interesting as I would never have thought it would have made such a significant difference as it did in your case.

It's all a learning process for all of us, trying new ideas and materials, and figuring out what may work best. All while hopefully keeping the cost low or at least reasonable... :)

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