Truck wheel manufacturer Accuride Tuesday introduced Steel Armor, a new advance in corrosion-fighting coating technology for commercial vehicle steel wheels. 

This proprietary three-phase coating process uses enhanced corrosion-fighting properties that extend steel wheel service life compared to standard coatings currently in use in the industry, according to the company. This technology will help fleets address a corrosion problem that costs the industry an estimated $4 billion a year, Accuride said, citing American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council figures.

“Its premium rust protection leap-frogs other wheel coatings with its ability to dramatically reduce fleet maintenance costs,” said Rick Dauch, Accuride president and CEO. The company estimates wheels protected by Steel Armor will last up to two additional years or more before they must be removed and refinished.

Some fleets will be able to avoid wheel refinishing costs entirely before trading their vehicles in, said Accuride. Others will see significant savings by delaying the average wheel refinishing time by two years at a cost of $35 per wheel or $630 per truck.

Pricing for wheels with Steel Armor will be the same as current offerings without it.

The new Steel Armor powder coating technology uses a proprietary protection process that improves the look along with the life of steel wheels, says the company.

According to Craig Kessler, Accuride vice president of engineering, Steel Armor’s sharp-edge protection means reduced corrosion on wheel edges, where rust tends to form first, such as flanges, hand holes, bolt holes and hub holes on stud- and hub-piloted steel wheels. Steel Armor contains the growth of corrosion by blocking rust at the point of entry when gouges, chips, scrapes and scratches expose the metal. Other coatings won’t stop rust from getting underneath paint and expanding across the wheel’s metal surface, according to Accuride.

To prove this point, Accuride exposed wheels coated with Steel Armor to a broad range of corrosion performance tests eclipsing traditional industry testing standards, completing 12 independently performed tests in all. These included industry-standard salt spray and chip resistance tests, plus cyclic corrosion testing methods commonly used in the automotive industry that are better able to determine product performance in strenuous road and climate conditions, such as UV transmission and Xenon testing.

“We believe this is the most rigorous testing process in the industry for steel wheel coatings and helps ensure performance,” said Kessler.

In testing using salt spray, steel wheels with a standard powder coat achieved 1,200 to 1,800 before it reached failure mode, while Accuride wheels with Steel Armor, achieved 2,500 to 3,000 hours before failure mode was reached.

Tests using cyclical corrosion, steel wheels with standard powder coating achieved 20 cycles while those with Steel Armor registered 50 to 60 cycles. Accuride says ten cycles are the equivalent one-year of service in the Northeastern U.S. Other tests showed the wheels with Steel Armor kept their glossy finish longer than wheels with standard power coatings.

In addition to launching Steel Armor, Accuride also upgraded how the new coating is applied. In July the company announced it was investing more than $6 million to upgrade powder coating capacity at its Henderson, Ky., and Monterrey, Mexico, wheel facilities.  The new coating lines are now being installed and will launch commercially in the first quarter of 2014.


“While others outsource their steel wheel coating, we’re committed to keeping that expertise in-house,” said Kessler. “Coatings and their application methods are among our core competencies.”