How to Renew Alloy Wheels

Updated July 19, 2017

The alloy wheels on your car are one of the most important aspects of its exterior cosmetics. A nice set of alloys make your car look better and also maximise its value. Over time though, alloys can really take a beating from getting scraped against curbs and from general wear and tear. Renewing your alloys is a project that can be done in a weekend with the right tools. The spray paint that is used for painting wheels is available from auto parts stores. You can use either paint that is made specifically for painting wheels or a standard paint like Krylon that is made for painting metal, which works equally as well.

Dismount the wheels from the vehicle if they are still installed. Raise the vehicle with a floor jack and support it on jack stands while the alloys are being refurbished. Take the wheels to a tire shop to have the tires removed from the wheels. This is not absolutely necessary but will make the restoration easier.

Rinse off the wheels thoroughly with a high pressure washer or a water hose to remove any dirt and debris. Clean the back of the wheels so no dirt or oil gets on the front of the wheel during the painting process.

Strip the paint and clear coat from the wheels with a strong paint stripper. Allow the stripper to soak until the paint begins to bubble. Wipe or hose the old paint off the wheels. Repeat until the wheels are completely stripped of the old paint and clear coat.

Clean the wheels with a mild cleanser. Wipe them down with white spirit. Use body filler to fill in any gouges or scratches. Mix the filler and the included hardener according the directions on the product's package. Apply it to the scratches. Allow it to dry fully. Sand it with 220-grit and then 320-grit sandpaper. Repeat the process until the gouges or scratches are even with the adjoining surface of the wheel.

Wipe the entire wheel down with white spirit before painting the wheels. This is a crucial step since a clean surface promotes strong paint adhesion.

Tape off the centre of the wheel if you are painting the centre a different colour than the rim. Spray on a light coat of primer. Allow it to dry. Apply a second and third coat, allowing the primer to dry for at least 30 minutes between coats. Wet sand the primer with 320-grit and 400-grit wet sandpaper.

Wipe the wheel down with the white spirit again. Spray on a light coat of colour. Allow it to dry for a minute or so. Apply two to three solid coats, allowing the paint to dry for 30 minutes between coats. Wet sand the paint with 320-grit and 400-grit wet sandpaper. Optional: Allow the paint to dry for several hours and then apply two to three coats of clear coat. Allow the wheels to dry overnight before attempting to mount tires on them or reinstall them on the car.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint stripper
  • Mild cleanser
  • White spirit
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Spray primer
  • Spray paint
  • Clear coat (optional)
  • 220, 320 and 400-grit wet sandpaper
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About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.