How to polish and refurbish aluminum wheels

Written by karen miller
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How to polish and refurbish aluminum wheels
Keep your aluminium wheels sparkling. (hot wheels image by FotoWorx from

Aluminium is a soft, silver-coloured metal that is used in a variety of industries and in a variety of objects. Due to its resistance to corrosion, light weight and ductility, aluminium is a widespread and popular metal. In the automobile industry, aluminium is used, among other things, to cover the sides of wheels, for both protection and aesthetics. If you want to maintain your aluminium wheels in mint condition, you should know how to polish and refurbish them.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Scour pad
  • Buffing cloth
  • 200-grit sandpaper
  • 500-grit sandpaper
  • Steel wool pad
  • Polish
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Refurbishing paste

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  1. 1

    Clean the aluminium wheel with water and a multipurpose cleaner. Use a sponge or a mild scrub pad to remove the dirt and debris from the wheel's surface.

  2. 2

    Apply wheel polish on a scrub pad to thoroughly clean the wheel. You only need to apply a small amount of wheel polish onto the scrub pad surface. Also, instead of a scrub pad, you can use a special buffing cloth. This step will further clean the surface of the aluminium wheel and prepare it for the refurbishing process.

  3. 3

    Rub the surface of the aluminium wheel with coarse 200-grit sandpaper. Use circular motions and apply pressure while sanding the aluminium surface. This method will remove any major scratches on the surface of the wheel.

  4. 4

    Sand the aluminium with fine 500-grit sandpaper to remove smaller scratches on the surface of the aluminium.

  5. 5

    Scrub the aluminium wheel with a steel wool pad. This will restore the aluminum's smooth finish after the sandpaper treatment. Note that the sandpaper is meant to even out the surface, while the steel wool pad polishes it. Repeat this step using an aluminium polish paste and a scour pad.

  6. 6

    Rinse the aluminium wheel to remove any remaining polish paste. Use a microfiber cloth to remove the residue from the holes and grooves.

  7. 7

    Apply a thick amount of a refurbishing paste to the aluminium wheel, making sure the entire surface is covered. Allow the paste to oxidise and cure the aluminium for at least 48 hours.

  8. 8

    Rinse with water. Immediately clean and buff the wheel with a buffing cloth. Note that if you let water dry on the surface it will leave marks and ruin the refurbishing process.

Tips and warnings

  • Instead of using ordinary scour pads, use a circular power polisher with installed polishing pads.
  • Wear thick gloves while refurbishing aluminium wheels to protect your skin.

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