Picture of How To: Refinish Wheels at Techshop
I needed to put winter tires on my car and rather than go through the hassle of going to a tire shop to have the tires unmounted and remounted I decided to get a dedicated winter set-up.

In this write-up I will show the process I used to strip, sand, and powder coat a set of alloy wheels with a little time and help from the folks at Techshop. The project can be completed over a weekend or two based on experience in the methods discussed.

Note: This write- up is meant only to show the steps required to refinish wheels, it is not a detailed instruction manual. Please follow the proper instructions and safety precautions when using the materials, tools, and equipment mentioned here.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
Chem gloves.jpg
I was looking for an OEM set of wheels as I feel they are of a higher quality than cheap aftermarket wheels, if there is any truth to this I don't know. The set I found was older and beat up, but cheap enough that I could try my hand at a little DIY refinishing and powder coating over at Techshop.

Tools I used:
Chemical resistant gloves
Nitrile gloves (for final washing NOT chemicals)
Respirator (rated for chemical exposure)
Non-marring plastic scraper set
Set of brass brushes with drill attachment
Shop vacuum

1-2 quarts "Aircraft" stripper
Powder Coat (.5-1lb) I did just the faces of four 17" wheels and used right about half a pound.


A good write up. Thanks

ahughes221 year ago
great write up. great little bits of info that a newbie could use to do at least a halfway decent job.
Tex Arcana1 year ago
I hate to say this, but I hope you don't plan on doing much driving on these wheels. The SCCA banned any form of powder coating a few years ago, because most people use the steel process (400°F cure), which will induce what's known as "overaging" of the alloy, which weakens it and might embrittle it. After a few wheel failures, the SCCA banned it altogether. There is a lower-temp powdercoat process, which should be used for aluminum. Also, cleaning of the aluminum needs to be CAREFULLY observed, because some chemicals can negatively affect the hardening of some alloys.

Read this for more: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=151053
jturnbul (author)  Tex Arcana1 year ago
Thanks for checking out the wheels and for the concern. I did read quite a bit of information regarding stripping and coating the wheels before I started.

In the link you provided there doesn't seem to be a clear consensus, and they seem to be referencing baking the wheel for an hour as opposed to the 10 minutes or so it takes to cure the powder; it's very unlikely the wheel itself reached cure temp in that time.

You mentioned it is banned from the SCCA but I couldn't find anything in the rules specifically stating that, it was a fairly cursory check though. The only other reference google found to this was another post by a Tex Arcana a couple of years ago.

In any case, I appreciate your comments and I would recommend anyone looking to do something similar be informed before starting.
Housedog1 year ago
That looks like one heck of a lot of work!
You did a good job, but I'm curious as to your color choice.
If my car was white, I probably would have done the wheels in white.
A white car with blue wheels seems a bit odd. You just like blue?
Are you planning on painting the car to match or contrast?
Nice job!
jturnbul (author)  Housedog1 year ago
Thanks, it was a decent amount of work, but not so much that I wouldn't do it again. Honestly, I wasn't 100% confident in the wheel color but I figured they were only for the winter and weren't expensive so if I hated it I'd do something different. It is a Ford and my going in idea was to do them the same color as the Ford emblem.

I really like the idea of white, and I almost went with that. The biggest reason I didn't was color matching, I think two different hues of white would look silly. I'd have to get factory paint then and I really wanted to try powdercoating.

Thanks again for the comment and checking it out.
great job. i always look for automotive stuff here. i did my wheels white back in 99 (Blue car) and loved the look. Blue looks great!! i would join tech shop but its like 4 hours away and i don't have that kind of money to join and stay in SF when doing projects.. i may just get one of those weekly rentals and join for a month :P. Again great write up.
caarntedd1 year ago
Nice. I was just thinking of doing something with my own wheels.
jturnbul (author)  caarntedd1 year ago
Thanks! Give it a shot, I had a good time doing it.