A nicely designed set of OEM wheels can really enhance the look of any car or truck. And when it comes to helping those wheels stand out to their full potential, it's hard to top the dazzling nature of chrome.
Through the decades, automotive styles have come and gone – but chrome always remained in style. Simply put, the reason for its perpetual appeal is the ability to accentuate and enhance beautiful contours and smart-looking wheel designs better than almost anything else.
Chrome Plated Wheels
But what if the OEM rims you like so much weren’t offered with chrome finish from the factory? One way to remedy that is to remove the wheels and have them professionally chrome plated. However, this process can be quite expensive – and less than convenient.
Depending on the design and size of your rims, the chrome-plating process can range from $200 to $300 per wheel, if not more. This cost is more than grilles or other trim pieces with a comparable amount of surface area because wheel shapes are generally very complex.
During the plating process, electricity is passed through the metal wheel as it's submerged in a tank of various compounds which include liquid chromium. During this process, the chromium is magnetically drawn to the surface of the wheel where it forms a bond.
Because electricity will always take the shortest path to ground, chromium will build up disproportionately on outside wheel surfaces and edges – leaving very little coating along inner surfaces of the wheel drum. The wider the wheel is, the bigger this challenge becomes.
This issue can be adjusted and corrected for by attaching extra anodes in these locations, and by using more labor-intensive dipping processes. Professional experience is a plus in getting positive results here.
Additional costs to chrome-plate your wheels must also be considered. For example, you'll need to have your tires dismounted before the chroming process, then re-mounted and balanced afterward. This can typically run $20 to $30 per tire. If you're not using a shop that's within driving distance, you'll need to ship your wheels both ways at great expense.
Finally, if you want to use your vehicle while the wheels are away being chromed, there's the hassle of finding a backup set of rims and tires.
Unless it’s well maintained and washed regularly to remove corrosive road salt deposits, chrome finish that’s applied to OEM metal wheels can degrade and become visibly pitted over time – flaking off in some cases.
Chrome-Plated Wheel Skins
A better solution to all these issues exists. Chrome-plated wheel skins (also known as imposter wheel skins) are contoured wheel covers that fit over your existing rims. Because these overlays match the shape and design of original equipment wheels, they fit like a second skin.
The level of detail is very high, with correct nuances and curves that make them virtually indetectable from OEM wheels with a full chrome treatment. Because they're made from ABS plastic, wheel skins are lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
Imposter wheel skins represent a great value, and they're easy to clean in winter (or any time) because they can be removed just as easily as any wheel covers can. Once that's done, bringing them inside to thoroughly wash every inch (front and back) with warm water in a sink is a much easier task than cleaning wheels outside in sub-freezing temperatures.
Should any damage occur from curb scrapes or road debris, imposter wheel skins can also be replaced at a much lower cost than re-chroming an entire wheel again.
We've got CCI Imposter Wheel Skins for a range of American and import vehicles from today back to the 1980s. Virtually all are chrome-plated, but you may see alternate finishes available in the Product Options field for some makes and models.
ProMaxx also offers a range of Chrome Wheel Skins, and we've grouped them by wheel diameter size. ProMaxx also offers Wheel Skins with a black finish, should you prefer to change your factory wheel cover to black instead of chrome.
Chrome Wheel Accessories
We've also got several products that let you add chrome accents to your existing wheels. These are not full wheel covers like the products referenced above. For example, the SAA Wheel Skin Trim kit comes with polished metal appliques that install on the surface of your wheel with 3M double-sided tape. On some vehicles, the accent pieces may cover just the spokes or the center cap area. Either way, they add elegant brightness that looks like a factory chrome highlight. SAA trim kits are available for the Hummer H2, Kia Optima, and Kia Soul.
If you've got a Jaguar XJ series with 1988-91 style wheels, URO Parts Chrome Hub Cap With Lug Holes lets you dress up the wheel hub area with replacement center caps featuring a chrome-plated finish. They're also perfect if you've already got chromed wheels but your center caps have become chipped or damaged during wheel removal. URO Parts also offers these center caps in polished metal form without chrome finish.
Imposter wheel skins give you the same look as chrome-plated OEM alloy wheels for a fraction of the cost and hassle that actual chrome plating entails. Plus, you'll be better protected from risks such as corrosion and the costs of damage repair. While we wouldn't discourage you from considering a full set of larger, custom wheels for your ride, we recognize that for many of us, wheel skins make the perfect second choice!