How do I fix curb damage to a car's aluminum alloy rims?

Updated April 17, 2017

Many factory and aftermarket rims are made of aluminium alloy material. Though it is a widely used metal, aluminium alloy is a soft metal and can be damaged more easily than other types of rims. When driving your car next to a curb, such as in a fast food drive-through, the rims can rub against the concrete curb. This can cause unsightly damage to your rim and lead to rust and a breakdown of the wheel's strength. Learn how to fix curb damage to a car's aluminium alloy rims and save having to buy a new set of rims.

Wipe the rim with paint thinner using a clean towel. Thoroughly wipe the area over and around the damaged area, but also wipe the entire rim. The thinner removes the waxy film that covers all aluminium alloy rims. This film prevents new paint from adhering to the rim. It must be removed. Allow the thinner to evaporate completely.

Wash the rim with car wash soap to remove all traces of the paint thinner. The thinner cleans the rim but can ruin the repair job. Wash the rim twice and rinse it carefully to make sure all the thinner is gone. Allow the rim to dry completely.

Use masking tape and paper to cover the undamaged area of the rim so the sandpaper won't scratch it. Cover the tire with paper and tape so it doesn't get overspray from the paint.

Sand the damaged area of the rim using 400 grit sandpaper. Sand evenly across the damage until it is smooth and less noticeable. Grooves and low spots will appear once the damage is sanded away. Cover the area with body filler putty and allow it to dry for 30 minutes.

Sand the putty with 800 grit sandpaper until it is as smooth and level as the surface of the rim. Wipe the sanding dust away with a towel dampened with water, not paint thinner. Allow it to dry completely.

Spray three thin layers of paint that matches your rims over the area. Allow five minutes between each coat for the paint to dry. After the last coat, wait 30 minutes for it to dry. Spray three thin layers of clear coat paint over the area, waiting five minutes between each coat and three hours before handling the rim. Remove the masking tape and paper before the clear coat paint has dried.


These repairs can be done if the rim is still on the vehicle. But the job might be easier if the rim and tire are taken off of the car.


Never sand or spray paint in an enclosed area. Work in an open or well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint thinner
  • Towels
  • Car wash soap
  • Masking tape
  • Masking paper
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • 1200 grit sandpaper
  • Body filler putty
  • Spray paint
  • Spray clear coat paint
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About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.