Refinishing 17" Chrome Clad rims? [Archive] - Chevy Malibu Forum: Chevrolet Malibu Forums

: Refinishing 17" Chrome Clad rims?

05-02-2012, 07:03 PM
I have a 2011 Malibu LT which came with OEM 17" Chrome Clad rims. I am not a big fan of the flashy style....and recently I curbed one of them (Chrome Clad is now peeling/flaking off exposing plastic looking interior).

Question: is there a process to strip/remove the Chrome Clad finish then refinish more like OEM "Machine Faced" alloy rims?

05-02-2012, 07:29 PM
We need a pic please. There were several different chrome clad 17" wheels. Do you have black plastic caps over your lug nuts or chrome acorn lug nuts?

05-03-2012, 06:16 PM
Thanks for the reply 09LT2. Attached are a few pics of the damaged wheel I took today. In speaking with the local Chevy dealership, they confirmed the Chrome is "glued"....if that makes sense.

Northern Bu
05-03-2012, 07:16 PM
Ouchie! :( Thanks for the heads up.

05-03-2012, 07:26 PM
They mean that the Chrome part is plastic that is glued on to the wheel.

05-03-2012, 07:45 PM
As far as I know there isn't any way to repair that. You might be able to find a wheel repair professional locally and see what they have to say.

05-03-2012, 07:55 PM
No way to fix it that I know of. They would have to somehow remove the whole plastic cover and install a whole new one. The wheel underneath probably doesn't look nice, and it would be covered in hardened glue.

05-04-2012, 12:28 PM
thanks to all for the replies. Will continue my quest! If anyone can suggest a well-known online OEM rim reseller, please let me know. Thanks

05-04-2012, 07:55 PM
Search craigslist and ebay. I saw a set of 17" oems for $400

06-20-2012, 11:59 PM
they are hubcaps. u can buy replacements online. ebay has OEM luck in repairing them...probably not worth it

06-21-2012, 05:52 AM
Those aren't hupcaps.

06-21-2012, 09:29 PM
Those aren't hupcaps.

you are right...if you consider that the glue makes the cover part of the wheel. :)

other than that, they are hubcaps held by glue instead of clips or plastic bolt covers. :D

06-21-2012, 10:42 PM
But they aren't hubcaps. They are called chrome clad wheels. ;)

06-22-2012, 04:59 AM
Yeah they aren't hub caps. They aren't replaceable. They are part of the wheel.

06-22-2012, 04:18 PM
OK, ok.

They're chrome-plated plastic "covers" that are glued to the steel rims. Chrome Clad or whatever term GM wants to call it, the recipe is the same: take a plastic cover, chrome "plate" it, then cover the wheel beneath it to add beauty at a lower price than chrome plating a metal wheel.

Still pretty, but easy to damage, hard/impossible to service if/when damaged, less expensive.

06-23-2012, 04:59 AM
They are actually glued to aluminum wheels! And while they damage easy if people don't know how to drive, they are much more durable then chrome. They will also never pit like chrome. It is much more expensive to re-chrome pitted wheels then it is to replace a clad one. People come into my shop all the time with Cadillacs and Buick's that are only 2-3 years old and their wheels are peeling like crazy. Then they tell me they think they GM is going to replace them for free under their warranty lol. Nope not going to happen.

06-23-2012, 06:33 AM
Even better that they're on aluminum instead of steel to keep the unsprung weight down. Didn't know that - appreciate the improved understanding. :)

Anyone with chromed metal wheels who gets pits in them does so because they didn't do any maintenance on them. Even in the days of chromed steel bumpers, if you didn't wash or maintain them they'd start to get pits and rust showing, so if they don't do the same to their wheels it ain't GM's fault. And it takes so little time nowadays - a simple spray and walk away - that everyone who wants chrome can keep it looking good for a long time.

So to choose between plastic covers and chromed metal seems to me to be a choice between low maintenance (plastic) and more durable (metal). Not all will choose the same. I tend toward durable choices.

06-23-2012, 06:43 AM
Was there a choice of chrome clad wheels or real chromed wheels when you guys bought your Malibus?

06-24-2012, 04:59 PM
Question: my wife hit a curb and ruined one on our 2011 LT2 Malibu. Another was apparently damaged by a service department. I bought the car with 19,000 miles on it and didn't notice the back one until I got home. If you may buy the plastic hubcaps, who do you have to go to, to have the old ones taken off and the new ones installed?

06-24-2012, 10:21 PM
Haw1936, You will need to be more spcific on which wheels you have. A picture would be best. If they are actual hubcaps, you can remove them by yourself with a 19mm socket (if they have black lug nut covers). If they are the Chrome clad wheels, they are NOT replaceable by themselves (if they have chrome lug nuts). You will have to replace the whole wheel.

06-24-2012, 10:25 PM
Was there a choice of chrome clad wheels or real chromed wheels when you guys bought your Malibus?

No Malibu's came with chrome wheels. They only had a few different Chrome Tech options depending on model year.

All of the Big 3 auto companies have went to the chrome clad wheels for reliability reasons. I guess they figure people who drive average cars can't afford to replace wheels all the time when they start to pit and peel. But usually people who buy the higher end cars...Lincoln, Cadillac, Buick, etc who prefer the nicer chrome wheels can afford to replace them when the time comes.

I myself have PVD Chrome LTZ wheels, but they were done by 3rd party and they aren't technically real chrome (but more durable).

06-26-2012, 06:02 AM
It looks like I'm up the creek without the proverbial paddle. Here are a couple of pictures, one of the rear and the other of the front wheels.

07-08-2012, 04:38 PM
Mine look fine but, the glue seems to be coming loose as I can hear them rattle when I go over rough road with the windows down.
Anyone know a easy way to fix this. Re glue or how do the aluminum wheels look underneath, would it be worth polishing?

update I got the black steel underneath so I either muffle the rattle, or try to polish steel wich I doubt would work.

I am family man so new wheels is not an option.

07-09-2012, 05:24 AM
I took my car to the local Chevy dealer. The parts man looked at it and basically told me I was screwed. Price for one wheel is $500+. My deductible is $500! So, I got my Dremel out and smoothed the plastic. Took a hammer and lightly tapped what chrome was sticking up, down, and now I'm looking for a good chrome substitute paint to spray over the areas once I get it, and mask the wheel. Any suggestions from someone who has already gone through this? I can understand a wheel cover that can be replaced, but whoever designed this fiasco needs to be stripped of his command!

09-22-2012, 11:22 AM
Wow, lots of different opinions here. Stumbled across this and thought since I used to work for one of the companies that made chrome-clad wheel I'd offer some comments.

Chrome-clad wheels were introduced by the car companies because they were more durable and when considering all the extra tooling and equipment are certainly not less expensive. I remember a few car programs could not come up with the money to afford them and had to soldier on with traditional direct-chrome plated wheels.

While they are more durable in normal use, unfortunately there is no approved way to repair a damaged wheel if it has been curbed (there are designed for the cladding to be permanently attached to the wheel and there are no "replacement" claddings).

Even though some people consider them hubcaps, there is a world of difference although I totally understand why people call them that. The main difference is that hubcaps are inexpensive plastic that are somewhat flexible and removable; claddings are made from a high impact engineered composite that is 3 times as expensive by weight than aluminum and permanent.

@ 2010LT specifically, often the "rattling' sound is the center cap loose in the clad-wheel. Try popping them out, greasing them with a lubricant and see if the sound goes away. If you have a "clicking" sound, however, that is a warranty problem (provided you are still under warranty) and the wheels should be replaced.

06-27-2014, 01:55 PM
DID anyone ever figure out what wheel looked like under the tin chrome cover?? Is shaped like ones off G6 from back . Someone had to try to remove the cover and clean rim . I will and get them powder coated

I checked several forums and found allot that removed and cleaned wheel for powercoat . Look like these from back .