Wheel Finishes: Hypersilver

Smoked Hypersilver
Smoked Hypersilver. Rim And Wheel Works, Inc

Hypersilver is a very complex paint process that uses a translucent metallic outer paint laid over a colored undercoat to give the wheels a deep inner glow. Used effectively it can attract attention to the wheels without the flash of chrome, and without detracting from the beauty of the car. Originally developed in Germany, the finish first appeared only on some BMW, Audi and Saab models, but the look became extremely popular and Lexus and Infiniti soon followed. Today most foreign carmakers offer at least a few wheels in this finish. Many aftermarket wheel companies offer a wide variety of hypersilver finishes as well.

What Is Hypersilver?

Hypersilver is a multistage process; first, a primer coat is applied, then the first coat of paint is laid down in either silver or black. A translucent paint is then applied on top of the base coat in a vacuum chamber. Finally, the wheel is sealed with a clearcoat for protection and durability. When the translucent silver overlayer is painted on a silver base, it gives a particularly bright effect, while the overlay paint on a black undercoat gives a more smokey look.

Unfortunately for the reconditioned wheel industry, the translucent metallic paint contains large amounts of lead and cannot be imported into the U.S., so a substitute had to be found for the liquid lead component of the paint. The two-stage paint process made the process of color matching the paint with a paint scanner impossible, and to further confuse the matter, hypersilver wheels were offered in multiple shades and tones achieved by varying the color of the underlayer. Industry heads spent years dealing with the multiple barriers to reproducing hypersilver, but it is now possible to refinish hypersilver wheels to a restoration-quality match.

This, however, means that the cost of refinishing hypersilver wheels is substantially more than a standard painted or machined wheel. The multistage process is quite expensive and the paint alone is three times the cost of standard paints. You obviously never want to damage your wheels, but you especially don't want to damage hypersilver wheels. On wheels with a black underlayer, any damage can become uniquely visible (and quite annoying) when picked out by a nice black outline.

You care for hypersilver wheels just as for any other clearcoated wheel; with a non-acidic wheel cleaner such as Auto Magic Magnificence, P21S or Simple Green. Wheel Wax can help keep brake dust off and makes cleaning easier.