Polished Wheel Disaster
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Thread: Polished Wheel Disaster

  1. #1
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    Polished Wheel Disaster

    I accidentally sprayed an alcohol-based sticker remover on my polished silver wheels, thinking it was wheel cleaner. The car is a 2001 BMW 325i. The wheels are shiny silver mag wheels. The result is I stripped off whatever clear coat was on the wheel and the wheel now appears splotchy with some shine remaining, but in many areas none remaining.

    Any ideas what to do? I suppose I could try to buy a new wheel, but I'd prefer to try to restore this one. Di I strip off the remaining coating? If so, what do I put back on? Do I try to paint the wheel?

    Thanks for any knowledge you might have.
    Drew M
    California

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    Registered Member Murr1525's Avatar
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    I wouldnt think alcohol would remove an entire clearcoat so easily, but maybe it is possible. You wouldnt happen ot have any picture or anything would you? Certainly could help those with more experience see whats up.

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    Sorry, digital camera not available. The wheel is splotchy, meaning some shine still left in places where the alcohol-based cleaner missed. It's just mixed shine and non-shine, some areas kind of darker grey while others are still nice and shiny.

    It's been suggested I either (a) strip the entire wheel (with something like oven cleaner -- !), then recoat with some sort of coating, (b) I paint the two wheels on that side of the car in a silver paint that comes closest to the original look of the wheel, or (c) I just buy a new wheel or find one at a junkyard.

    None of these seems like a great solution, but buying a new wheel is obviously the best -- except for the expense, of course. Seems silly I can't somehow polish or paint the wheel back to near 'normal'.
    Drew M
    California

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    aka 2hotford Tim Lingor's Avatar
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    Hi Drew,

    Sorry to hear about the wheel issues. I too am a little surprised that alcohol would do damage to the OEM clear coat. Do the spots feel any different than the non-damaged part of the wheel? What have you tried to on the spots?

    I wonder if you have simply etched the clear coat and not actually removed it. Hence my question as to what you have tried on the wheel since the accidental spraying. If it is etching, it may be possible to remove the stains. But if it is indeed clear coat failure, then you will need to take it to a professional shop to have the wheel refinished.

    Tim

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    Registered Member OctaneGuy's Avatar
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    Re: Polished Wheel Disaster

    Can you post or PM me the name of the product you used? I'd like to verify that this cleaner did indeed attack your clearcoat.

    Thanks!

    Richard

    Originally posted by DrewM
    I accidentally sprayed an alcohol-based sticker remover on my polished silver wheels, thinking it was wheel cleaner. The car is a 2001 BMW 325i. The wheels are shiny silver mag wheels. The result is I stripped off whatever clear coat was on the wheel and the wheel now appears splotchy with some shine remaining, but in many areas none remaining.

    Any ideas what to do? I suppose I could try to buy a new wheel, but I'd prefer to try to restore this one. Di I strip off the remaining coating? If so, what do I put back on? Do I try to paint the wheel?

    Thanks for any knowledge you might have.
    Richard Lin
    ShowCarDetailing
    5548 E. La Palma Ave
    Anaheim, CA 92807
    toll free: 866 707 9292

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    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    These wheels are either clear coated or they're not. If they not then you can restore the luster of the aluminum using a quality metal polish like NXT All Metal Polysh.

    First you need to determine if the wheel is/was in-fact coated with a clear coat finish. The clear coat paints used on factory wheels are pretty tough, I would think the clear coat is merely dull from exposure to this chemical and not stripped off.

    Simply take any quality cleaner/wax or paint cleaner and rub in a small area with a clean, soft foam applicator pad, either our A12 Cleaner/Wax or ScratchX or even ColorX would be great products to test with.

    If when you turn the pad over you see a dark gray color, that would indicate the coating is gone and you're now removing aluminum. If the pad collects no color, as in it stays the color it is and/or the chemical you apply to it, (ColorX is a bluish color), then the clear coat is still intact and chances are good a little bit of rubbing with one of these products will restore clarity and gloss.
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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    Registered Member Mikeyc's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mike Phillips
    Simply take any quality cleaner/wax or paint cleaner and rub in a small area with a clean, soft foam applicator pad, either our A12 Cleaner/Wax or ScratchX or even ColorX would be great products to test with.

    If when you turn the pad over you see a dark gray color, that would indicate the coating is gone and you're now removing aluminum. If the pad collects no color, as in it stays the color it is and/or the chemical you apply to it, (ColorX is a bluish color), then the clear coat is still intact and chances are good a little bit of rubbing with one of these products will restore clarity and gloss.
    I think this should be obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway. Make sure to clean your wheels first before performing this test. Otherwise, the brake dust will make the determination of clear coat/no clear coat difficult.

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    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mikeyc
    I think this should be obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway. Make sure to clean your wheels first before performing this test. Otherwise, the brake dust will make the determination of clear coat/no clear coat difficult.
    Very good point... thanks for "Bubba-Proofing" this thread!
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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    It doesn't look like I did strip off the clear coat. The wheels remain completely smooth to the touch--no high or low spots as if I had stripped off a layer of anything.

    The product I mistakenly sprayed on the wheels is called "Oops! Waterbased All Purpose Remover and Cleaner." It's a completely colorless liquid in a spray bottle, meant for removing stickers, grease, markers, nail polish, paint overspray, that sort of thing.

    Despite the "water based" name, it lists ingredrients as including "dibasic Esters [and] 2 butoxyethanol" with lots of warnings about avoiding contact with skin, avoiding vapors, etc. That's the source of my claim that it has alcohol (or petroleum) of some sort in it.

    Despite the smoothness of the wheels, they have a mottled appearance that looks like camoflage made up of shiny and dull--light silver and darker gray. This is definitely not dirt of any kind since I have completely washed the wheels.

    I just tried Scratch X on the wheels and it made no difference. It did not remove any color whatsoever, so I guess that confirms that it's not down to the aluminum layer and that I haven't removed any clearcoat on the wheels.

    I'm stumped as to whether there's some kind of polish that will even out the tone of the wheel -- or whether my only choice is (expensive) wheel refinishing vs. (cheap) wheel painting.

    I'm not familiar with NXT metal polish or other such products. Any suggestions as to a hierarchy of products from mild to aggressive that I could try?

    Thanks again for any insights about this mystery.

    Drew Maddock
    Pasadena, California
    (Where it's going to rain on the Rose Parade and maybe the game)
    Drew M
    California

  10. #10
    Registered Member OctaneGuy's Avatar
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    Hey Drew,

    Unless some other SoCal person volunteers, I can probably meet up with you somewhere and have a look. I'm in the Marina Del Rey/Culver City area--but I'm often in the San Gabriel area--around 3 times a week.

    I wouldn't mind having a look and taking some pictures to post back in the forum.

    Richard

    Originally posted by DrewM
    It doesn't look like I did strip off the clear coat. The wheels remain completely smooth to the touch--no high or low spots as if I had stripped off a layer of anything.

    The product I mistakenly sprayed on the wheels is called "Oops!

    SNIP

    I'm not familiar with NXT metal polish or other such products. Any suggestions as to a hierarchy of products from mild to aggressive that I could try?

    Thanks again for any insights about this mystery.

    Drew Maddock
    Pasadena, California
    (Where it's going to rain on the Rose Parade and maybe the game)
    Richard Lin
    ShowCarDetailing
    5548 E. La Palma Ave
    Anaheim, CA 92807
    toll free: 866 707 9292

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