Do Alloy Wheels Rust? Here’s What You Need to Know

Alloy wheels have quickly become the go-to wheels for any standard vehicle. Alloy wheels are known to weigh less than the standard alternative available in the market

Here’s everything you need to know about how alloy wheels rust and how you can safeguard them against damage.

Is It Normal for Rims to Rust?

The difference in the weights of alloy and standard wheels results in better steering and reduced pressure on the suspension. 

However, taking care of alloy wheels is just as complex as the maintenance of any standard vehicle wheels. 

The most common question that vehicle owners face is whether alloy wheels rust or not.

The Difference Between Rust and Corrosion?

When you go into the technicalities of maintaining alloy wheels, you’ll find that you don’t have to worry about your alloy wheels becoming damaged from rust.

Instead, the real issue lies in wheel corrosion. Rust and corrosion are mostly similar but have one fundamental difference. 

Rust is actually a brownish hue that gets settled on the wheels due to improper maintenance and neglect.

Corrosion, however, causes discolored patches to form on the wheels. It’s mostly caused by a chemical reaction called oxidation that results when air, water, and aluminum alloy interact.

Most alloy wheels come equipped with a special protective layer that prevents rust from accumulating. 

The problem starts when that protective layer becomes damaged. A scratch or damage to the alloy wheels can create an opening for corrosion to form.

How Can You Stop Alloy Wheels from Rusting?

There isn’t a lot that you can do to protect your wheels against corrosion besides maintenance. 

The most common way to deal with alloy wheel rusting is to perform regular cleaning.

Try to use a low-ph cleanser and wipe off excess dust, and other road elements. 

You can also regularly polish your wheels or utilize professional electroplating services to give your alloy wheels protection against corrosion and rust.

Dealing with corrosion is similar to dealing with rust. The following section details what you need to do.

Step-By-Step Guide to Clean Rust Off Your Alloy Wheel.

If you notice any signs of corrosion, try not to panic. You can still save your vehicle wheels. Here’s what you can do.

  1. The first step is to apply a suitable rust remover. Using the wrong cleanser can actually exaggerate the problem and further damage the protective layer. That’s why it’s necessary to follow the given instructions.
  2. Now you have to scrub the corroding areas. The best scrubber for this job is a nylon scrubber. 
  3. If you’ve caught the corrosion in its early stage, following these steps would be good enough. Try to focus on any discolored patches as you work your way through the wheel.
  4. This step is for the stubborn corrosion stains that still remain. You can try using a steel wool scrubber to get rid of the patches. But be careful! Scrubbing too hard can cause deep scratches in the wheel.
  5. Give the wheels a wash. You can use household items to clean the wheels such as a sponge and soap if you want.
  6. Leave the wheels to air dry. After that, you can apply an alloy wheel polish, and voila! You’re done.

Are Corroded Alloy Wheels Safe to Drive With?

Corrosion and rust will always remain a problem for vehicle owners and sellers. Due to corrosion, you’ll lose the attractive look of alloy wheels.

The discolored patches on your wheels will be a clear indication to any potential buyer that the vehicle was severely neglected. 

Even if you aren’t concerned about the way your wheels look, you’ll still have to worry about corrosion.

Corrosion will quickly compromise the structural integrity of your wheels if left unchecked. 

Even a small patch of corrosion can spread to other parts of the wheels. Bubbling corrosion can lift the rubber away and allow air to escape.

Not only can the problem escalate, but eventually it will cause cracks and become unsafe for driving.

Will Scratched Wheels Always Rust?

Corrosion is a chemical reaction that initiates once water, air, and aluminum alloy interact. 

The protective layer that the alloy wheels come with prevents this reaction from taking place. However, scratches can damage this layer. 

Once a crack forms in the shield, corrosion is quick to form and spread.

What Causes Alloy Wheel Corrosion?

Multiple situations can result in scratches and damage to your alloy wheels. The most prominent reason, however, is always physical damage.

Your alloy wheels can get damaged easily by catching the curb while driving. If you ever end up driving over a pothole or facing extreme weather conditions can also damage your wheels.

Besides this, accumulated brake dust can also result in corrosion. Brake dust is necessary to generate the friction needed to stop your vehicle. 

This process generates heat and small particles from the brake pad can wear off.

Your alloy tires ultimately suffer wear as these dust particles stick to your wheels.

How Can You Prevent Future Damage to Your Alloy Wheels?

There’s not much you can do besides regular maintenance and careful driving to prevent corrosion from occurring. 

Try to avoid off-road driving as it can expose the wheels to potential damage. Parking is another instance where your wheels can get damaged.

That’s why you need to be extra careful as you park your vehicle. try to park it away from other vehicles or from other obstacles that can potentially damage the alloy wheels.

Final Thoughts

Do Alloy wheels rust? The simple answer is no. Alloy wheels undergo corrosion that can be resolved by following a few steps.

If you want to avoid future damage, the best approach is to take care of your vehicle. 

Regular washing and maintenance can protect your wheels against further damage and ensure optimal performance.


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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