Corvette: How to Customize Your Rims
Customizing your rims complements the iconic look of your Corvette. Here are a few options to consider.
This article applies to the Corvette C5 (1997-2004), C6 (2005-2013), and C7 (2014-2015).
One of the most common modifications for the Corvette is swapping the stock rims with aftermarket rims. However, most of the time, this can be costly. If you're looking to change the look of your Corvette without breaking the bank, then you may want to consider the following options: Plasti Dip, powder coating, or a lug nut swap. For being relatively inexpensive, these modifications still add style points to your Corvette. Here are the ins and outs of these three options.
Option 1 – Lug Nuts
DIY Cost - $60-$150
Professional Cost - $80-$470
DIY Time - 15-30 minutes
Skill Level - Easy; Requires basic skill levels.
There are many types of lug nuts. There are open-ended and close-ended, along with extended or shorter lug nuts. They also come in a variety of colors, a difference which can really give your Corvette a nice look. Steel lug nuts are most common, with aluminum being the second most common. Steel lug nuts have more of a glossy finish while aluminum lug nuts have a duller finish. Steel is also more durable than their aluminum counter parts. Steel lug nuts are preferred among people who are constantly swapping between sets of rims, mainly for race events on weekends. This is because they are more durable and will take the abuse better. Aluminum lug nuts, on the other hand, are chosen because of their light weight. It's noticeable when holding one of each in different hands. When buying lug nuts it is recommended to stick to quality and well known brands. There are also titanium lug nuts that are ultra light weight and strong; however, they're considerably more expensive and cost around $500 a set.
Some lug nuts are only meant to be paired with aftermarket rims, so ask around before purchasing a set to go with your stock rims.
Option 2 – Painting
DIY Cost - $7 per Plasti Dip can
Professional Cost - $50 per rim at a body shop
DIY Time - 1-2 hours
Skill Level - Easy; Requires basic skills.
Painting your rims can hide scuffs and curb rash. It also allows you to add a personal touch. You can paint them almost any color, from yellow to black. If you decide to paint your rims yourself, then you have two options: you can either use special spray paint meant for use on rims or you can use Plasti Dip. Both can be purchased at your local auto parts store. The benefit of using Plasti Dip versus the normal paint is that you can peel it off if you ever decide to go stock again or change the color. Normal paint would be more difficult to remove. If you decide to get them professionally painted, the finish would probably last longer, but you might have to wait a few days to a week. If you go this route, hopefully you have a spare car. In general, painting your rims is not going to be extremely durable. Even if you're careful, the paint can still begin to chip if you drive on salty roads frequently. However, the finish can still last for a considerable amount of time. The good thing about painting them yourself is that you can touch them up when necessary.
It's considerably easier to remove each rim for painting (spraying). You can use blue painter's tape to cover the tire in order to protect it from paint spray.
Option 3 – Powder Coating
DIY Cost - N/A; Not recommended
Professional Cost - $100 per rim
DIY Time - N/A
Skill Level - Difficult; Advanced machinery and skill levels required.
If you love the design of your stock rims but wish they were a different color, then powder coating is for you. Powder coating is more expensive and permanent, but it is also more durable. Dry powder is applied on the rim, and the electrostatic charging of the powder/grounding of parts causes it to stick. The rim is then cured in a high-temperature oven. Powder coating is not damaged by salty roads. Applying powder coating to your rims is a professionals job. You really can't try this at home due to the equipment needed to get the job done. If you choose this option, you will end up with a great finish on your rim.
You can also get your rims copper plated, gold plated, chrome plated, nickle plated or black chrome plated.