What Is OEM Wheel Paint and Where Can I Get It?

OEM is an industry abbreviation that simply stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. As you can imagine, this term can apply to anything from a bumper to a window switch to a full transmission and all the parts therein. OEM applies to any part that comes on a vehicle from the factory. It also applies to your car (and wheel’s) paint. So, in saying OEM paint colors, we’re talking about using the published paint codes from manufacturer of the exact colors they used when originally making the wheels.

Each manufacturer has proprietary paint colors; some stay pretty consistent (think anything on the black, white and gray spectrum), whereas others change yearly (that teal that was so popular two years ago and now has you reaching for your sunglasses). Even within so-called standard colors, there is room for a lot of variation. Have you ever noticed the difference between the white on a Ford Focus ST and a Tesla Model 3? They may both be available in white, but the white used by each manufacturer is vastly different. There can be variances in tone, pigment intensity and finish, from metallic to matte to two-tone to pearlised to gloss, and almost any other finish you can imagine in-between. And that’s just white. Think of the endless car body paint colors that have been made available commercially since the inception of the vehicle - we’ve come a long way since the Ford Model T’s black-only offerings. 

Wheel rims are similarly diverse in the sheer amount of color options available, whether from the manufacturer and bespoke (no pun intended. Okay, slightly intended.) When it comes to manufacturer-created wheels, it’s usually a world of silvers and grays. Any other colors are usually added by the customer using an expert wheel upgrade service like Salt City Wheels in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Each manufacturer has its own color palette that they work from when creating wheels, but there is often some crossover between them. For example, Audi, BMW and Mercedes have similar wheel finishes to each other, and Range Rover, Ford and GM likewise use similar finishes.

In general, every manufacturer has an oft-used color called Hyper Silver. It’s extremely shiny and looks similar to polished aluminum. It’s crazy thin paint (thinner than water, if you can imagine it), which is what makes it look so gloriously translucent when applied. Salt City Wheels can match this finish perfectly, which is quite a task as it takes considerable skill and experience to apply well. Most wheel companies struggle with either the application or mixing the actual paint, getting a result that’s somewhat close to the OEM finish but when exposed to sunlight (which, unless you’re going to drive your car around the garage, is kind of a necessity), it shows up as different and a cheaper-looking finish.

Typically too, if you’re thinking of powder-coating your wheels with a Hyper-look, the powder coating process tends to not match this finish well at all. True, there are constant advancements in powder coating materials, but to date it isn’t able to match the Hyper Silver finish as consistently and flawlessly as paint. Which is one of the reasons Salt City Wheels do not offering powder coating as a finish upgrade option, as we want the highest quality, most consistent finishes for our customers, and powder coating simply isn’t there yet. 

If you are interested in painting your wheels or restoring them to their OEM finish, give Salt City Wheels a call today at 801 425 3044. Our mobile wheel experts have years of experience working with OEM wheel paint colors for all manufacturers and we will leave you spinning with delight at your gloriously restored rims.