Why Wheel Finish Matters (and How to Choose the Right Finish for Your Heavy-Duty Equipment)

Why Wheel Finish Matters (and How to Choose the Right Finish for Your Heavy-Duty Equipment)

Since Alcoa Wheels were first introduced to Australia in 1985 —when steel wheels were the go-to for heavy duty vehicles— it has become commonly accepted that aluminium wheels are easier to maintain, look better for longer, and because of their light weight are a good way to meet lower-cost-of-ownership goals.

While aluminium wheels make maintenance easier compared with steel, they still need regular washing with a mild detergent, along with polishing to maintain their shine and keep oxidation at bay.

“Many heavy haulage companies in Australia have to contend with our harsh environment,” says Ross Simmons, Managing Director for Howmet Wheel Systems – distributor of Alcoa Wheels in Australia.

“It’s not only constant exposure to dirt, dust and road salts that are a problem,” he adds. “Heavy acids in truck washes can also contribute to aluminium wheels becoming dull and pitted.”

The choice of finish for your aluminium wheels is determined by how heavy-duty your equipment’s needs are, and also whether your bottom line can benefit from lowered cleaning and maintenance costs and less wheel-offs.

What makes wheel finish matter is

  • how healthy your bottom line is,
  • what your equipment’s day-to-day workload is,
  • the environment your equipment is exposed to, and
  • how important a pristine image is to customer satisfaction and retention.

These factors all determine which wheel finish you might choose to adopt.

Alcoa Wheels in Australia come in 3 finishes and a patented surface treatment:

Chart showing Alcoa Wheels Finish Options with a heading Choose the Right Finish For Your Wheels

Brushed Finish

(Alcoa Wheels Product number ends with 0)

Machine finished Alcoa forged aluminium wheel | Brushed Finish

The Brushed finish option displays a clean, satin appearance and is a basic maintenance finish (machine finish). The wheel is non-reflective and finished on both sides.

  • Rinse with warm water; preferably with a high-pressure cleaner
  • Dilute truck wash detergent in water.
  • Gently brush the detergent onto the wheel using a soft brush.
  • Rinse with clean water. Repeat steps if needed.
  • Dry the wheel.

LvL ONE® Finish

(Alcoa Wheels Product number ends with 7 e.g. ULT397, or 882517)

Wheels with LvL ONE® finish option are finished on both sides, polished once as they leave the factory’s precision machining process, resulting in a smoother and glossier surface than wheels that are Brushed finished.

They can be used in steer, drive and trailer application, and are supplied either inner polished, outer polished, or polished on both sides.

LvL ONE® is an advanced finishing technology developed by Howmet Aerospace, of which Alcoa Wheels is a product brand, and wheels finished with LvL ONE® technology have a high end, near polished appearance that is six times brighter than any brush finished forged aluminium wheel in its class.

LvL ONE® wheels require the usual procedure when it comes to maintenance: a regular clean with mild detergent and a soft brush, and if a shiny surface is desired, polishing is needed.

Polished Alcoa forged aluminium wheel | LvL ONE Finish
  1. Rinse with warm water; preferably with a high-pressure cleaner.
  2. Dilute truck wash detergent in water.
  3. Gently brush the detergent onto the wheel using a soft brush.
  4. Rinse with clean water. Repeat steps if needed.
  5. Dry the wheel.
  6. If polishing, apply a small amount of polish to the wheel.

TIP: Spread the polish evenly over the wheel in sections using a dampened cloth and polish (polishing in sections will prevent the polish from drying out).

Mirror Polish

(Product number ends with 1, 2, 3 e.g. ULT391, 776472, or 882523)

The name says it all: Mirror Polish is a premium polished finish so clear, it reflects like a mirror – the highest polish and reflectivity on the market.

Mirror Polish finish option is available on wheels for light trucks, heavy trucks, buses and trailers.

  • Part numbers ending in 1 are Mirror Polish outside only.
  • Part numbers ending in 2 are Mirror Polish inside only.
  • Part numbers ending in 3 are Mirror Polish both sides.
Closeup of a highly reflective aluminium truck wheel Mirror Polished Alcoa Wheel closeup
  1. Rinse with warm water; preferably with a high-pressure cleaner.
  2. Dilute truck wash detergent in water.
  3. Gently brush the detergent onto the wheel using a soft brush.
  4. Rinse with clean water. Repeat steps if needed.
  5. Dry the wheel.
  6. Apply a small amount of polish if the wheel has become dull.

TIP: Spread the polish evenly over the wheel in sections using a dampened cloth and polish  (polishing in sections will prevent the polish from drying out).

Dura-Bright® EVO

(Part Numbers end in DB e.g. ULT392DB, 882513DB, 77642DB)


Proprietary Dura-Bright® EVO surface treatment is the way to go if you want to never polish your wheels again.

The patented surface treatment penetrates the surface of the aluminium to form one composite that becomes an integral part of the wheel, so cracking, corrosion and filiform can’t get underneath as is seen with acrylic and other coatings.

“Dura-Bright® EVO wheels are Alcoa’s easiest-to-maintain wheels,” says Michael Nichols, National Sales Manager for Alcoa Wheels in Australia. “They can stand up against the harshest weather and road grime, and even cleaning agents that are known to corrode and dull standard commercial truck, trailer and bus wheels.”

Dura-Bright® Surface treatment offers up to 3 times more resistance to chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid found in the toughest truck wash cleaning agents, and with the ability to be cleaned in a Ph environment 2-12, they stay shiny with regular truck cleaning products and even just soap and water.

The fact that they clean with just soap and water, along with Dura-Bright® wheels’ consistent shine without the need to polish are just two of their very attractive prospects for large fleets where well-presented equipment means maintenance labour and time costs can be considerable.

For highly regarded fleets like K S Easter and Corbet’s Group, for example, not only is a pristine fleet paramount to their business, but so is the time and money saved on maintenance. As a result, they standard spec Dura-Bright® wheels.

Available across a range of Alcoa wheels, including the lightest wheel in the market, the 18kg Ultra ONE®, this ‘finish’ not only supports the bottom line by offering lowered maintenance, but comes with all the premium Alcoa wheel benefits of:

  • their light weight (increased payload, better fuel efficiency),
  • their unmatched strength (proprietary MagnaForce® alloy is exclusive to Alcoa wheels and is 17% stronger than any other alloy in the industry),
  • their improved heat dissipation (extended tyre and brake life).


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Regular cleaning with a mild detergent will keep the wheels shiny, even after hundreds of washes and thousands of kilometres, reducing maintenance costs.

Dura-Bright® wheels look bright and shiny for years without polishing.

“Because Dura-Bright® wheels clean with a simple soap and water wash, they take less time to clean than standard brushed aluminium wheels,” says Michael Nichols.

“They don’t need to be polished, so there is a lot of value added to the bottom line in saved cleaning time and costs.”

Text showing the breakdown of the Alcoa Wheels Roll Stamp

You might be looking for what finish of Alcoa wheel you have if you are wanting to purchase a replacement, or match the other wheels on your equipment.

The Alcoa Wheels roll stamp and label will tell you everything you need to know.

The part number is the best way to identify which finish option the wheel has, with the last number of the 6 digits being the indicator.

For example, if the wheel part number ends in a 7, the wheel is a LvL ONE® finish.

Part numbers ending in 12 or 3 denote a Mirror polish finish.

Font or Steer applications end in the number 1.

Rear or Drive Applications and Trailer wheels will end in a 2.

Dura-Bright® wheel part numbers end in DB (remember, these are treated with a proprietary surface treatment).

Authentic Alcoa wheels all have the iconic Alcoa Wheels label on them, which helps distinguish between various finishes.

Brush Finish will have the well-known BLUE Alcoa Wheels label.

LvL ONE® wheels have ‘LvL ONE®’ on the BLUE Alcoa Wheels label, and Mirror polished wheels have ‘Mirror Polish’ on the BLUE Alcoa Wheels label.

Dura-Bright® wheels have a BLACK Alcoa Wheels label with ‘Dura-Bright® EVO’ written on it.

See How Alcoa Wheels Premium Finishes Stack Up Against Competitors
Alcoa Wheels finish comparison chart with varying degrees of shine
Make Sure It’s An Alcoa® Wheel
Two Alcoa Ultra ONE Wheels next to each other facing straight and side on

To spec your wheels, ring phone-icon 1800 955 191 to talk with our wheel experts, or fill out a contact form and we will reach out to you to answer your questions and discuss your specifications.