Are Painted Wheels Affected By Winter Salt?


If you’ve watched That Episode of The Grand Tour when Jeremy Clarkson throws a Lamborghini Urus around a ski resort, you’ll know the sheer fun that can come from a Utah winter and a fabulous car to drive around in it. Ah, the rose-tinting of winter memories past! Of course, we like to conveniently forget about the ghastly bits of winter in the Salt Lake Valley: the sleet, freezing rain, nebulous suburban clinging mud, water marks on a pristine wax job, and of course the wintry devil-incarnate - salt. 

Salt is marvelous about miraculously making snow-laden roads fun to drive on again, but it can wreak utter havoc on poor, innocent car body and wheel paint. Should you be concerned about your beautiful rims being wrecked, and if so, what’s a chap to do about it?

When salt combines with the rampant moisture of a Salt Lake City winter, it speeds up corrosion on both your car body’s paint job and your wheels. If this state of affairs continues unabashed for the entire season, come spring and general defrosting, you might start to see some wear and corrosion on your formerly pristine rims. So how can you take care of your painted wheels in winter and keep them in tippety-top condition?

It may sound boring and basic, but washing and waxing your car and wheel rims regularly can help keep seasonal deterioration at bay. How often is often? Remember, salt mixed with moisture is most corrosive, and salt is impossible to avoid in Salt Lake City, Park City, Heber or the canyons during winter, so at the barest minimum try to give your vehicle a bath after every rainfall or snow-dump. This will minimize the corrosive combination of salt and water. 

If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before winter strikes, fall is the perfect time to get ahead of the game by getting yourself some fancy sealants to prevent damage. We especially need these in Utah and the Salt Lake Valley since we regularly deal with a lovely combination of salt, snow, rain and high-altitude UV exposure. No one wants their custom painted wheels withering up like the surface of a dried-up old raisin!

Even if you’re in the depths of winter, you can still minimize damage by using a purpose wheel-sealant. To apply it, ideally wait until an at-least somewhat mild day with no precipitation looming and clean your wheels thoroughly with a store-bought wheel cleaner. Make sure to dry each wheel thoroughly before applying the wheel sealant or wheel wax. Making sure each wheel is thoroughly clean and dry will ensure you have the best surface area contact with the protective sealant. It will also protect them from a salt-sandwich - teeny grains of salt stuck between the wheel paint and the sealant, free to burrow their way towards the nearest axel. Yes, clean is the way to go!

Wax or silicone coatings will help protect painted, aluminum, chrome, or alloy wheels from corrosion and oxidation during winter. They’re also helpful to use even in summer since brake dust can also be harsh on wheel rims. And who wants to drive slow in summer just to protect a paint job? I think not.

Salt City Wheels are experts in both custom painted wheels and Utah’s harsh climate - we’re always happy to give you a custom sealant recommendation for your painted wheels. And if it’s gone a bit beyond that point, our mobile wheel engineers have the tools and know-how to restore your rims to their former glory pronto, without your vehicle ever having to leave the security of your driveway. Give us a call today at 801 425 3044 to get your custom sealant recommendation and to schedule a professional wheel restoration.