How to repair scratches on an alloy wheel

Updated February 21, 2017

Repairing minor scratches on your costly alloy wheels is not difficult, and doing it yourself can save you money, especially when a significant amount of that cost is for labour. Having the skill to repair your own superficial scrapes and scratches also takes the stress out of those inevitable moments when you're in a hurry and the kerbside is closer than you think.

Fill a bucket with warm water and three squirts of dish detergent. Clean the damaged rim thoroughly with the foamy detergent and a brush. Dish detergent is an excellent car cleaner because it lifts oil and grease and is gentle on the finish. Next, clean the damage and the area immediately around it with a lint-free cloth and paint thinner. Only clean the damaged area with thinner; do not attempt to clean the entire rim. Let the rim dry completely.

Mask the tire with masking tape if the damage is close to the tire, getting underneath the rim as much as possible. Lightly sand the scratch with 240-grit sandpaper to remove the sharp edges.

Fill in the damaged area with auto body spot putty. After the putty is dry, spray on primer and sand it with 400-grit sandpaper wrapped around a small square piece of wood. The small sanding block will help you get a smoother finish. The putty should look and feel flush with the rim. Apply more putty followed by primer and continue sanding until you achieve the proper shape and smoothness that you can feel.

Tape down plastic sheeting to the entire car, fenders, body and especially the parts of the rim to remain unpainted. Silver metallic paint has a tendency to spread and gets everywhere. Lightly spray the putty with silver lacquer using a gentle side-to-side motion, then stop immediately and use a clean rag to wipe off the over-spray on the spokes and around the inside of the rim. Avoid spraying the entire rim; only paint the damaged area. Continue spraying on the paint and wiping off over-spray until the damaged area is completely covered. Follow the paint manufacturer's instructions for suggested drying time.

Spray on the clear high-gloss lacquer over the new paint and let dry for 30 minutes. Spray on a second coat of high-gloss lacquer and let that dry overnight.

Wet sand the newly repaired area once it has dried overnight with 1500-grit sandpaper to blend the new surface with the old.


Spot putty dries in minutes under the sun so it's best to perform this task outside on a sunny day. Match the colour of your rims by using a silver wheel lacquer suggested for the make of your vehicle. For example, colours suggested for a German make should match Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen wheels.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Hose
  • Brush
  • Dish detergent
  • Paint thinner
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper; 240-, 400- and 1500-grit
  • Auto body spot putty
  • Primer
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Silver wheel lacquer
  • Clear high-gloss lacquer
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About the Author

Barry Index lives in Los Angeles where he has been writing about writing since 1998. Recent freelance activities have brought his work to wider audiences through and several other writer-enthusiast sites. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University, Northridge.