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3 of 4 of my wheels have this very particular circular scratch around the center of the wheel with a diameter the same as my bolt pattern. I don’t see what could have caused them. The wheels have a substantial inward curve there so it had to be something that managed to get into the dip in the center of the wheel.

I purchased new winter tires this year although I didn’t notice these marks until months after. I suppose they could have been introduced when the tires were installed but I’d be surprised to have missed them.

I think a picture is the only way to describe this.

wheel damage

  • Are they really scratches, or can it be wiped off with some soapy water? – GdD Apr 16 at 15:22
  • Rough scratches. No question. Some of the coloration may come off with cleaner but they are non-trivial scratches. – WillyC Apr 16 at 15:24
  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 16 at 15:49
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As GdD suggested, I agree this most likely happened when new tires were put on the wheel. I'd suggest the real reason, especially if it's on most all the wheels, is that they tire shop used a bad center support when they put the wheel on the balancing machine. This could be from either the center support having nothing there to protect the wheel (like a plastic/nylon lip), they over tightened the center support, or quite possibly, they didn't tighten it enough (which would allow the wheel to slip and scuff on the center support). Any which way, they scratched your rim ... I'd definitely not go back to them in the future. As an aside, you'd be hard pressed to prove they did it, but if you really feel froggy, you might try.

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Because the scratch is on the part of the wheel which is set back from the edge, and you have them on 3 wheels I would say this happened when you had your tires changed. Most likely a piece of metal scraped against them during balancing, although it could have been when the tire was being mounted as both involve machines rotating the wheel.

As to why you didn't notice up until now I can't say for sure, other than it was there but you didn't see it for one reason or another (myopia, permanent hangover, etc.), but there's a couple of possibilities:

  • The tire company dressed the wheels to hide the damage. There's products that can cover that sort of thing up, maybe someone used one to keep themselves out of trouble
  • Maybe the damage was less visible at first and became more obvious as the damaged are oxidized
  • I suspect that when it first happened, there was no dirt in the scratches to make them stand out. – B540Glenn Apr 16 at 17:34

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