New car buyers love pimping out their new rides, especially the often sedate wheels and rims that come standard with most luxury cars.
But changing out new tires and rims—especially those that come equipped with tire-pressure monitoring systems or those geared specifically to a certain vehicle—can cause problems with treads, brakes and other features tied into a car’s tires.
U.S Wheel Exchange (Madison Heights, Mich.) and PermaChrome PVD (Fullerton, Calif.) have come up with a solution by offering to trick out the actual wheels and rims that come with a luxury vehicle by exchanging the factory issued tires for new bright and black chrome rims using physical vapor deposition coatings.
PermaChrome recently added Jaguar to its Dealer Wheel Exchange Program by making its chrome wheels available for specific late model Jaguar automobiles through dealerships.
PVD—or physical vapor deposition—combines vacuum plating with powder coating as a durable and environmentally-green alternative to traditional chrome plating.
William Claproth, PermaChrome PVD’s marketing director, says the idea behind the program is that changing the tire and wheel size drastically from the factory specifications may void the manufacturer's warranty on a new vehicle as size affects the way the brakes work and impacts wear and tear on the drive train and engine.
“So car buyers order fancier tires from us through their dealer and exchange them with the ones that came with the car,” Claproth says. “They are only charged for the cost of the PVD, plus handling.”
Claproth says the aftermarket wheel business will continue to see diminishing sales because of tire-pressure monitoring system, an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure inside all the pneumatic tires on automobiles tied to the computer in your vehicle.
“This makes wheels more difficult to replace without encountering many problems,” Claproth says. “And more importantly, aftermarket wheel sales decline is due in part because of the new larger, better quality and more attractive wheel styles coming from the new car factories.”
Dealerships like the new arrangement with companies like PermaChrome and its sister company in Detroit: U.S. Wheel Exchange.
“The vehicles on which we have placed the PVD coated wheels are always an attention grabber for drive by traffic and have actually generated and eased the sale of certain vehicles by offering that something extra,” says Dave Shobe of Lakeside Jaguar/Land Rover in Macomb, Mich.
PermaChrome PVD in California is a relatively new company, but it is associated with U.S. Wheel Exchange, which has been doing these coatings on the East Coast and in the Midwest for many years and has developed a true following among auto retailers.
Eric Zettle, an Acura sales manager in Roseville, Mich., has partnered with U.S. Wheel Exchange for several years and says the PVD option is much more cost effective.
“We normally have a margin of $700-$1,100 per set of tires,” he says. “We set an MSRP of $1,995 for the PVD, which is about half as much as the factory chrome upgrade. It also gives our customers another option other than going after-market.”
Tom King, who is general manager at a General Motors dealership in Detroit, says customers like jazzing up the factory issued tires instead of using aftermarket products.
“Factory wheels and factory ride, chromed at a reasonable price,” King says. “It is a product that customers love without the negative issues of ‘after market’ fit, ride and durability of traditional chrome plating.”
Michael Figlak from Midwest Wheel and Tire in Warren, Mich, says he has been able to appease many customers who saw their rims damaged due to harsh winters.
“For much of the first half of this decade, I felt the pain of customers returning to my business and complaining about the pitting and peeling of their traditional chrome wheels,” he says. “In nearly three years of selling PVD wheels supplied by U.S. Wheel Exchange, I have not had a single wheel returned under warranty.”
PermaChrome PVD says its chrome coating provides a much more uniform deposit with improved adhesion, often up to six times greater than conventional acid bath chrome.
The first step begins with a primer powder-coated paint being applied as a base coat. Second, the wheel is placed into a PVD vacuum chamber where the PermaChrome process is applied with several different metals to create the chrome finish. Finally, a clear powder coat is applied to protect and seal the new finish.
The company says it can also chrome wheels for BMW, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ford and Chevrolet cars. It offers a 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty against pitting and peeling on the wheels for the bright chrome finish, and 3-year, 100,000-mile warranty for the black chrome.
For information, visit PermaChromePVD.com or USWheelexchange.com
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