How Long Do Powder Coated Wheel Finishes Last?

Powder coated wheels are a great option if you’re looking for a highly resistant and durable finish, but how long do they actually last? In this article, I’ll address how durable powder coated finishes are, and how to look after them to make sure they last as long as possible.

How Long Do Powder Coated Wheels Last For?

On average, powder coated wheels last approximately three times longer than painted wheel finishes. The maximum durability of powder coated wheels is around 20 years if they are properly maintained and cared for.

Why are Powder Coated Wheels So Durable?

Powder coated wheels are very durable because the finish is very hard after it cures. This means that it is more resistant to moisture, UV light, chemicals, scratches, and chips compared to other finish types such as painted and diamond cut.

The durability of powder coated wheels is what draws many car owners to them, particularly if they’ve had bad experiences with other finishes. It is not uncommon for previously diamond cut wheels to be powder coated, because many owners of diamond cut wheels can get frustrated with their susceptibility to corrosion and moisture.

Powder Coated Wheels Can Still Get Damaged

Although powder coated wheels are very durable, they still can get damaged. They are more resistant than other finish types, but can still be impacted by:

  • Abrasion
  • Brake dust
  • Chemicals

They tend to retain their vibrant colour due to their increased UV resistance compared to painted finishes, so this does not tend to be as much of a concern. However, they still can get damaged by other sources.

The most common form of damage to a powder coated wheel is abrasion which can come in the form of scratches or chips. Although the surface of a powder coated rim is very hard, it is not scratch resistant, and can still get curbed. Stone chips are unlikely to cause significant damage to a powder coated wheel, but it is not impossible depending on the level of impact.

Many car owners do not realise it, but the brake dust that builds up on the wheels between washes is corrosive. If this brake dust is left to sit on the surface for a prolonged period of time, then it will start to eat into the finish and cause permanent damage. Road salt is also known to accelerate this corrosive process if it is left to sit on the finish.

Some chemicals can also cause damage to the powder coated finish. Using very harsh wheel cleaners (highly acidic or alkaline) can have a negative impact on the finish. This is a particular problem for matte and satin finishes which can become easily discoloured if harsh chemicals are left to dry on the wheel.

How to Care for Powder Coated Wheels

If you want your powder coated wheels to last as long as possible, then it’s a good idea to properly care for them to avoid the issues described above. There’s not too much you can do about rock chips, but there are ways to reduce the amount of abrasion they are subjected to during the cleaning process.

Clean the Wheels Regularly

Preventing that build-up of brake dust is also essential to avoid corrosion on a powder coated rim. It is good practice to clean the wheels at least monthly to prevent excessive built-up. Cleaning the wheels monthly also means that you can use a milder chemical which again increases the longevity of the finish.

Using a dedicated wheel shampoo is a great option for well-maintained wheels. If you prefer a sprayable product, then check out P&S Brake Buster which works very well on both alloys and tyres and also contains rust-inhibitors.

To avoid inflicting scratches, use soft tools such as a wash mitt or a very soft brush to clean the wheel with plenty of lubrication from either the wheel shampoo or sprayable wheel cleaner. You should also rinse the wheel before making contact with it in order to remove the loose layer of brake dust so it is not rubbed back into the finish during the cleaning process which will cause light scratches.

Coat the Wheels

One of the best ways to protect a powder coated rim is to apply a ceramic coating to it. If you are unfamiliar with a ceramic coating, they form a strong layer of protection on the finish to protect it from the elements.

A ceramic coating can be applied at home by yourself, or by a professional. However, ceramic coating isn’t the easiest thing to do and requires a lot of prep, so it’s best to hire a professional detailer unless you feel very comfortable with the process. When applied properly, a ceramic coating will last for a couple of years before it needs applying again, so it will help protect the finish for a very long time.

If you don’t want to ceramic coat your wheels, then consider using a wheel wax or sealant instead. These are much cheaper and easier to apply, but will need applying more often.

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Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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