Chrome Clad Wheels
A clad wheel is a cast wheel with a chromed, plastic cover bonded to the face of the wheel. Their presence in the marketplace is growing like wildfire because auto manufacturers have realized that the same cast forgings can be used for several makes and models with the clad cover providing the difference in appearance. So, what was once primarily considered a Chrysler wheel design, is now being used on Chevy, Ford, Audi, Mercedes, Toyota and Nissan to name a few. By 2015, it is estimated that over 60% of new vehicles entering the fleet will come equipped with clad wheels.
The effect clad wheels have had on wheel balancing has been profound to say the least: in order to properly balance a clad wheel, standard cones and pressure cups cannot be used. Use of cones from the back, cones from the front and pressure cups on the surface of the wheel will not only result in inaccurate balance results but can also cause expensive damage to the wheel. Because chrome clad covers cannot be removed, repaired or replaced, it is important to understand that any damage to the cladding results in wheel replacement at the shop’s expense…and clad wheels do not come cheaply. To avoid clad wheel issues in the shop, the following details the problems and solutions for balancing chrome clad wheels:
1. Clad Surface I – Because the plastic material is soft and easily scratched, there can be no surface contact on the clad cover. Pressure cups pressed to the clad surface, with or without the rubber ring, will scratch and damage the wheel requiring expensive wheel replacement.
2. Clad Surface II – Many clad wheels have a pocket between the clad cover and the wheel’s casting. Pressure cups tightened against the clad cover can crack and/or cave in the plastic cover requiring expensive wheel replacement.
Clad Surface Solution - Flange plates or Haweka Quick Plates are required to prevent any surface contact with the wheel. So that a lug centering device is used on every wheel not just clads, Quick Plates are highly recommended for optimum balancing results.