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.
3. Back Coning – If a standard cone is used properly from the back of a clad wheel, two problems occur:
1.) Balance Accuracy - The length of the cone (2 inches plus) is such that the cone’s point of contact in the wheel hub is actually the clad cover. The plastic cover is soft, moveable and has nothing to do with the way a wheel is mounted to a vehicle. It is impossible to properly balance a wheel mounted on or touching the chrome clad cover in any way. Results will always be inaccurate.
2.) Hub Cover Clips - Many clad wheels have plastic clips in the inner hub bore to hold the wheel’s hub cover in place. These clips are thin and very easily broken. When a cone is used from the back, the clips press against the cone and often break. This results in a loosening of the clad cover, wheel vibration and expensive wheel replacement.
Back Coning Solution – Hub centering devices designed and sized to have no wheel hub interference are required for balancing clad wheels. Haweka Pro Collets (two sided, 3/4 inch length each side, low taper collets) or Duo Collets used from the back of the wheel provide clad wheel solutions. For maximum results, Duo Collets are recommended as the mounting surface replicates the vehicle’s exactly.
4. Front Coning – As iterated and reiterated many times on this site, cones should never be used from the front under any circumstance. Balancing results from front coning are inaccurate and meaningless. Like back coning, there are two issues when coning from the front:
1.) Balance Accuracy – When a clad wheel is front cone mounted on a balancer, not only is the point of contact of the wheel completely irrelevant to the way it is mounted on the vehicle but also, because the plastic cladding covers the hub bore there is no contact whatsoever with the wheel itself. The plastic cover is soft, moveable and has nothing to do with the way a wheel is mounted to a vehicle. It is impossible to properly balance a wheel mounted on or touching the chrome clad cover in any way. Results will always be inaccurate.
2.) Hub Cover Clips - Many clad wheels have plastic clips in the inner hub bore to hold the wheel’s hub cover in place. These clips are thin and very easily broken. When a cone is used inaccurately from the front, the clips press against the cone and often break. This results in a loosening of the clad cover, wheel vibration and expensive wheel replacement.