Unfortunately, two of my wheels look crappy, and the other two aren't exactly perfect. Though I have a little curb rash, it's mostly just clear coat failure on the polished surface of the wheel. So I'm looking into what to do.
My car is a 2001 SLK230 with the 16" 7 spoke wheels, which have a clear-coated machined finish on the spokes, and silvery paint on the rest of the wheel. I really like the design of the existing wheels and have no desire for something else.
I'm doing a sort of mid-life refresh on the car, and have looked into wheel refinishing. Long story short, I've come to understand that the going rate to refinish my wheels is $175. That's not too bad, especially compared to buying new wheels. But $175 a wheel is more than I really wanted to spend, especially since I need to buy some tires too.
So I started to look into buying some nice second-hand wheels on eBay, when I discovered that I could buy a refurbished copy of my existing wheel for between $125 and $160. And no, this doesn't require a core exchange. I give the seller cash, and he sends me a wheel.
Most of these wheels are available from Wheels America. So I looked them up and found a franchise near San Francisco and called them. They told me that refinishing my existing wheel would cost $175. Then I explained that their company was selling exactly the same entirely refurbished wheels on eBay for $125-$160. And then I tried to get them to refinish my wheels for less than the $175. But no-go. However, they were willing to sell me some already-refurbished wheels of the exact same style for $130 and $160. (The rears are 16"x8" and the fronts 16"x7"; I don't recall which was more expensive.) And the weird kicker is that the don't want my old wheels either.
So in the wacky world of wheels we have a situation that's analogous to buying bread for less than the cost of the flour that goes into it. I can buy refurbished wheels, delivered to my door, for less than it would cost to take them to San Francisco (a place I visit pretty regularly anyway), and have them refinished by the same company that will sell me already-refinished wheels for less.
My best wheel:
My worst wheel: