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How long can OEM chrome wheels go dirty before pitting?

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Old 01-11-2018, 06:27 PM   #1
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Default How long can OEM chrome wheels go dirty before pitting?

First Corvette for me with chrome wheels. They've grown on me. A guy down the street in our local club said his old C6 wheels pitted badly and GM wouldn't help him so he went with painted on his C7Z06.

I drive my car a lot and it sits dirty between monthly washings (if that). It's been super cold here and the car has been down for some mods. The brake pads are OEM stock.

Is it OK to let it sit a month or two w/o washing it? Or, do I need to wipe the wheels down weekly?

I thought the whole point of chrome was zero maintenance, but I don't want to let me excellent condition wheels get pitted up.

Is it OK to wipe chrome with windex and a towel? It's too cold to wash the car with soap and water and "waterless wash" is $12 a bottle.

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Old 01-11-2018, 06:36 PM   #2
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It all depends on what they are "dirty" with and atmospheric conditions. Heat and salt-sea air, for example, never help. When I was on Okinawa while in the Army I saw things rust in ways and places I could have only imagined coming from a a totally different environment. I've seen chrome rust simply from exhaust fumes constantly coating the surface. Bottom-line? It's just not that hard nor time-consuming to at least rinse them off. All the best and enjoy
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Old 01-11-2018, 06:43 PM   #3
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All I can add is that brake dust is extremely corrosive to chrome wheels regardless of other corrosive materials like road salt. It collects in the corner crevices and that's where pitting starts. If you drive it, clean them afterward.

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Old 01-11-2018, 06:52 PM   #4
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First thing I did after receiving my C7 was replace OEM brake pads with low dust/non-corrosive pads.

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Old 01-11-2018, 06:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Tool Hoarder View Post
First Corvette for me with chrome wheels. They've grown on me. A guy down the street in our local club said his old C6 wheels pitted badly and GM wouldn't help him so he went with painted on his C7Z06.

I drive my car a lot and it sits dirty between monthly washings (if that). It's been super cold here and the car has been down for some mods. The brake pads are OEM stock.

Is it OK to let it sit a month or two w/o washing it? Or, do I need to wipe the wheels down weekly?

I thought the whole point of chrome was zero maintenance, but I don't want to let me excellent condition wheels get pitted up.

Is it OK to wipe chrome with windex and a towel? It's too cold to wash the car with soap and water and "waterless wash" is $12 a bottle.

I found my 2014 Z51 pads were causing so much dust in two trips to town (~100 miles total) if I did not clean it off quickly it was pitting my black wheels. Lived with cleaning them very often until I installed Carbotech 1521 ceramic pads! 85% less dust and what is there did NOT pit my wheels. Washed the wheels when I washed the car.

Have them installed on my Grand Sport and do the same-no special cleaning of wheels, do it when I wash the car!

All Z51, Grand Sport and Z06's have aggressive racing type pads! If you don't track, get Carbotech 1521's. Stop great, better than OEM when cold and equivalent when hot. Again for street use NOT Tracking. Carbotech has 4 or 5 other pads for racing, depends on what type.

Last edited by JerryU; 01-12-2018 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 01-11-2018, 06:57 PM   #6
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I waxed mine with Meguiars Ultimate and then applied three coats of Poorboy's World Wheel Sealant. Makes wheels really slick and I either use a Swiffer or a microfiber cloth and some detail spray to clean them between washings. Easy and hopefully offering protection from brake dust etc.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:04 PM   #7
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Keep my 2016 garaged, polished, sealed, and my wheels are still showing pitting. I heard that most of the chroming is done in China now and the process they use is the problem.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Avanti View Post
It all depends on what they are "dirty" with and atmospheric conditions. Heat and salt-sea air, for example, never help. When I was on Okinawa while in the Army I saw things rust in ways and places I could have only imagined coming from a a totally different environment. I've seen chrome rust simply from exhaust fumes constantly coating the surface. Bottom-line? It's just not that hard nor time-consuming to at least rinse them off. All the best and enjoy
Above is very true.

Altho it has been very cold. No, I wouldn't wait a month or two. As to Windex, I'd use (and have used) water and towels---the el cheapo kind like the 36 pack from Costco--that go in the wash and you don't care if they come out stained--just keep using them until they fall apart. Literally, a couple or three hand towels, a spray bottle of water and you are done in less than five minutes. If you can't do it every time you get in the garage, once a week?

The big thing in addition to what avanti said above is brake dust--highly corrosive. As bad or worse than salt spray.

Altho you won't want to do this, less dust is better. That means new pads to reduce the amount of dust. It can be relatively moderate cost, or very high. That's for you to decide which brand and cost you want to pay and how much stopping power you want. Cheap isn't always the best route when it comes to brake pads, or anything that keeps you safe in an emergency.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:12 PM   #9
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On the C6, I prefer the stock painted split spokes.
When we wore out the first set of tires on our 2009 chrome wheels, I had the tires removed and stored the chrome wheels covered with grime and Z51 brake dust. Getting ready to sell them, I washed/polished them 6 years later and discovered no deterioration or damage at all.

Others have not been so lucky.

My big gripe with chrome wheels is that if they get damaged by tire mounting or a curb, repair costs are outrageous, it takes a longtime, and GM says No to re-chroming.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:19 PM   #10
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Car washing at this time of the year in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states is a bit of a challenge. Two possible solutions, find a good hand wash or a self service bay where you can at least power wash the elements off. The power wash has a setting for wheels, but I just use the rinse cycle to get the crud off until I can get to the hand wash. I’m definitely learning the difference between summer and winter clean, but with silver, it never looks as dirty as it really is.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:29 PM   #11
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Get some Mother's All Chrome . Spray the wheels with All Chrome and wipe them with a cloth. I even use those soft blue paper shop towels for the first wipe because it will be real dirty and you can just throw the towel away. This stuff is amazing and it seems to help them stay cleaner longer. I do this at least once a week, only takes 5 or 6 minutes.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Hoarder View Post
First Corvette for me with chrome wheels. They've grown on me. A guy down the street in our local club said his old C6 wheels pitted badly and GM wouldn't help him so he went with painted on his C7Z06.

I drive my car a lot and it sits dirty between monthly washings (if that). It's been super cold here and the car has been down for some mods. The brake pads are OEM stock.

Is it OK to let it sit a month or two w/o washing it? Or, do I need to wipe the wheels down weekly?

I thought the whole point of chrome was zero maintenance, but I don't want to let me excellent condition wheels get pitted up.

Is it OK to wipe chrome with windex and a towel? It's too cold to wash the car with soap and water and "waterless wash" is $12 a bottle.

You go a month or more not washing your Corvette? I don't know what to say
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:52 PM   #13
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McKee 37 as well as other detail suppliers make a wheel cleaner that dissolves the metals in brake dust. Spray on wheels let it do the work, if bad use a wheel brush. Then rinse clean clay bar , use a wheel polish to strip wax then coat with nano- ceramic wheel treatment. Then all you have to do is wash them when car gets washed. Used on my High Country Chrome wheels. Just got chrome wheels and installed Michelin super sport a/s 3+ tires. Will do this process on them then install on Vette. Still nasty weather in the northeast so will take my time
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Old 01-11-2018, 09:16 PM   #14
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Get some Mother's All Chrome . Spray the wheels with All Chrome and wipe them with a cloth. I even use those soft blue paper shop towels for the first wipe because it will be real dirty and you can just throw the towel away. This stuff is amazing and it seems to help them stay cleaner longer. I do this at least once a week, only takes 5 or 6 minutes.
Just bought that today!
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Old 01-11-2018, 09:17 PM   #15
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Thanks all... I'll clean them this weekend and keep them cleaner here on out.
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Old 01-11-2018, 10:59 PM   #16
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Well the weels aren't as perfect as I thought. Have minor pitting at the ends of the spokes. They look fine from a couple feet, but shop light shows all flaws. Just bought car at thanksgiving. Haven't washed it yet as it's been a cold winter and I bought it to drive. Will swap to ceramics (have Carbotech XP12/10s for the track) and wipe them down more often. Once I get my track tires mounted I'll pull them off and really detail them. Car is a 2014 with 44k miles and has had OEM Z51 pads it's whole life.







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Old 01-12-2018, 12:00 AM   #17
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Some of that pitting is from dirt and sand that flies around when you are driving, not necessarily from dirt and brake dust sitting on the wheels longer than is should. Unavoidable unless you keep it sitting in a garage, which of course you do not want to do.

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Old 01-12-2018, 01:54 AM   #18
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Some of that pitting is from dirt and sand that flies around when you are driving, not necessarily from dirt and brake dust sitting on the wheels longer than is should. Unavoidable unless you keep it sitting in a garage, which of course you do not want to do.
Makes sense... the leading edge of each spoke has to "chop" through the air.
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:09 AM   #19
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I'm going out on a limb here and say most pitting is from sand and small gravel that gets blown around on the road. I have chrome wheels, for the first time in years, and I'm surprised at how easily they're scratched. I actually scratched a wheel while wiping off a dirt clump. I learned right then that modern chrome isn't like the old chrome we enjoyed on our 50's era Chevys. Those 50s bumpers couldn't be scratched with a Brillo pad. I'm no metallurgist but I'm guessing the old chrome had lots of nickel in it. My rear wheels show a bit more pitting than the front. They get more sand blown onto them than the front.

The county road I live on was recently repaved with chip and tar, or chip and seal... whatever you call it. Lots of small gravel loose on the road. I mean a LOT. I've reduced my speed to less than 20 mph just to keep the loose gravel from flying around as much. I have a large pit on a rear wheel that could only come from impact. From my road? I don't know, can't know, but I'm suspicious that my road is the culprit.

I'm a chromie, love my chrome wheels, so I'll live with the damage and replace the wheels when I can't stand the pitting.
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:10 AM   #20
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Makes sense... the leading edge of each spoke has to "chop" through the air.
Yep there are other things that can cause pits BUT the brake pad dust on Z51, Grand Sport and Z06's is excessive and corrosive! Change the pads!

Once I switched to Carbotech 1521 ceramic pads, after having cleaned my wheels every ~100 miles for months to stop pitting prior- I had no pits in 3 years! Washed the wheels only when I washed the car and the wheels looked fine when I sold it!

Last edited by JerryU; 01-12-2018 at 10:27 AM.
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