How to Refurbish Car Rims





Introduction: How to Refurbish Car Rims

My wheels were looking dull and used and one of them had made contact with corrosive chemicals, I decided it was time to refurbish them and make them look like new again.

Things you will need:

  • a car
  • primer
  • colored paint
  • clear coat
  • sandpape
  • ralloy repair (optional)
  • jack stand

Time: 4 hours per wheel

Ok now that you have a list of everything needed lets get started!

Step 1: Wheel Removal

The first thing you will need to do is get the wheel off your car, to do this you use the jack supplied with your car to raise the car off the ground and remove the bolts. I chose to put the spare tire on while I was working so that I wouldn’t worry about the jack holding it up.

Step 2: Wheel Protection

You may decide to take your tire off to avoid damaging it or prevent overspray but your local garage may charge you for this, If you decide not to remove it, it’s best to protect the tire with painting tape but not until you finish step 4.

Step 3: Sanding

The sanding begins, start by using a thicker grain of sandpaper to take off the paint, once you get the paint off you need to use a finer grain of sandpaper to minimise any scratch marks and smooth the surface. Anything that you can see at this point will show through your paint job so make sure it looks good.

This step will take the longest!

Step 4: Cleaning

Clean the rim very well and make sure it’s dry before you go on to the next step, If you decided to keep your tire on you will need to protect it with tape before moving on to the next step.

Step 5: Primer

Using the primer, evenly spray the rim starting on the inside and then flip it over and do the front. Wait till dry to move on to the next step, you may want to do 2 layers of primer.

Step 6: Colour Painting

Using the colour you have chosen to paint your rims, start spraying on top of the primer in even coats on the inside and the front and wait for it to dry.

Step 7: Clear Coat

Using the clear coat, spray even coats on the inside and front and wait to dry.

Step 8:

Once you have finished painting you can now remove the painting tape if used or have your tire refitted.

Step 9: Finishing Up

Doing the reverse of step 1 you can put the wheel back on your car and appreciate all of that hard work.

If you took off your wheel weights, it is best to take it to your local garage and have new weights put on to keep your car stable.

Step 10: Final Touches

Once finished you can polish the rim and badge just to give it that extra shine!

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    22 Discussions

    alfa romeo <3

    careful with using oven cleaner on aluminum alloy wheels. if there is lye (sodium hydroxide) it may 'eat' away at the Al. It is very caustic. you can get excellent results using a tub of water your wheel fits into and some wet dry sand paper on a sponge. start with nothing coarser than 600grit and go up to at least 2000 grit. remember to feather out nicks and scratches.

    if you want to get super fancy use metal polishing rouge and you can make them mirror bright. I used to use Mother's polishing compound as a kid. worked great.

    before you paint get a self etching primer that is designed for aluminum. your paint job will come out better and last way longer that way. a good auto parts store or a paint/autobody supply store should have it or be able to get

    1 reply

    I think since you are saving a bundle by doing it yourself, don't cheat yourself out of a first class job, have the tires pulled off. Remove the wheel weights. They will look so much better. Just make sure the tire shop knows they are painted and to be careful when getting any tire work done. Painting the calipers and or brake drums a contrasting or matching color is a nice addition.

    I came across a neat trick to use oven cleaner to clean wheel rims from dirt, grease and brake dust.

    It works just as well!

    Actually the dip seems to work fine on jeep rims, they have a product out now for wheels.

    Plasti-dip works great on rims: it fills pitted areas and holds up well in salt and sand. Just like paint, one really has to clean the rim, but there is no need for primer or clear coat.

    3 replies

    Plasti-dip may work acceptably on some bike rims but not so well on car rims that are exposed to more brake dust and heat.

    Yeah but plasti dip is not permanent. This here is restoring. It's more work but makes it like new again!

    Nice job done, make it sound easy.

    My rims have met the curbs maybe one or two times too many, any idea's how to restore a jagged edge in a diy solution?

    2 replies


    I found a compound used for repairing alloy wheels in my local hardware store, it comes in 2 parts: filler and hardener. Following the instructions you mix them together and fill in the the spaces after all the hard edges are sanded away. Its better to put too much than too little, and then you can just sand it down to the point where it blends in with the rest of the wheel.

    I'm not sure if the product claimed you are supposed to sand away the hard edges or not, but you aren't supposed to. Leaving them rough gives the filler something to cling to. The only material that should be removed is that which was burred to extend beyond the normal edge of the rim if it hadn't been damaged.

    Nice to see a fellow Alfa Romeo fan. My rims could do with this...

    1 reply