How to Repair Damaged Alloy Wheels

Updated July 19, 2017

Alloy wheels are widely used on vehicles for cosmetic purposes as well as practicality. The metals used in alloy wheels are surprisingly soft, and this makes them particularly prone to damage. Stone chips can cause small indentations in the wheels, and poor parking practices can lead to scuffs and abrasions. Cosmetic damage can leave alloy wheels looking unsightly, but it is entirely possible to refurbish them with some easily obtainable materials. The process will save you money on expensive replacements and leave the wheels looking as good as new.

Place the trolley jack underneath the car on the central jacking point at one end of the vehicle. Raise the vehicle from the ground and lower it onto axle stands. Repeat the process at the other end of the vehicle until it is entirely off of the floor. Remove all four wheels and place them on a solid working surface. Release as much air as possible from the tires by pushing down on the needles of the valves.

Take a piece of P180-grit abrasive paper and rub over the surface imperfections until all high spots have been removed. Examine the wheel for chips or pitted areas and apply galvanised polyester stopper into them with the flat edge of a plastic spreader. Leave to dry for 10 minutes before rubbing the stopper down to a smooth, flat surface.

Remove the scratches caused by the P180-grit abrasive paper with P320-grit abrasive paper. Rub down the rest of the alloy wheel with an ultra-fine grade soft sanding pad. This will provide a finely etched surface for primer and paint to adhere. Blow off loose dust with a can of compressed air and wipe the wheel clean with a solvent-based degreaser. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Mask out the edge of the tires and extend beyond the area with masking paper and adhesive, 2-inch tape to help prevent over-spray. Wipe a tack cloth over the alloy wheel to remove the final traces of dust. Apply two light coats of aerosol self-etching primer. Leave the wheels to dry for five minutes before rubbing over them lightly with a soft sanding pad.

Wipe the wheel clean with a tack cloth before applying three full coats of aerosol wheel silver. Remember to leave a five-minute curing period between each coat. Leave the alloy wheels to dry for about two hours before unmasking and fitting them back in the vehicle.

Things You'll Need

  • Trolley jack
  • Axel stands
  • Solid working surface
  • P180-grit abrasive paper
  • P320-grit abrasive paper
  • Galvanised polyester stopper
  • Plastic spreader
  • Ultra-fine grade soft sanding pad
  • Can of compressed air
  • Can of aerosol self-etching primer
  • Can of aerosol wheel silver
  • Tack cloth
  • 2-inch masking tape
  • Masking paper
  • Degreaser
  • Cloth
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About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Paul Miceli has been a professional writer since 2006. He has been published online by Ideate Media and Promiga and has a proven track record of producing informational articles and sales copy. Miceli is educated to U.K. "A-level" standard, continues to work as a paint sprayer and has more than 25 years of automotive body repair experience.