How to Refurb an Alloy Wheel

Updated July 19, 2017

If the alloy wheels on your vehicle have suffered scuffs or abrasions because of poor parking, stone chips or general wear and tear, you can carry out a full refurbishment instead of purchasing expensive replacements. The manipulable qualities of soft metals, such as aluminium or magnesium, mean that alloy wheels can be easily sanded and shaped during the repair process. To repair your alloy wheels most effectively, you should take the wheels off the vehicle. However, you can easily complete small repairs with the wheels still on the car.

Use a random orbital sander with a P180-grit sanding disc and smooth any abrasions in the flat areas of the wheel. Continue sanding until as much of the abrasion has been smoothed out as possible. Be careful not to run the sander over the edges of the wheel because this may round off the wheel contours. Sand any hard-to-reach areas by hand with P180-grit sand paper.

Remove all traces of dust by blowing over the wheel with a can of compressed air. Activate a small amount of polyester filler. Use a plastic spatula to spread the filler into any remaining chips and crevices in the wheel. Add polyester filler to any areas where wheel contour has been lost. Allow the filler to dry for approximately 15 minutes.

Sand the dried polyester filler with a P180-grit sanding paper until the correct shape of the wheel has been restored. Scuff the rest of the wheel with an ultra-fine-grade sanding pad to provide an adhesive surface for paint to stick to. Wash the wheels using solvent-based degreaser and a clean cloth.

Use small strips of 2-inch masking tape to mask the wheel rim from the outside wall of the tire. Add masking paper so the entire wheel is covered. This will help to prevent over-spray during the painting process. Remove any remaining traces of dust and grit by wiping the wheel with a tack rag.

Apply three coats of aerosol self-etching primer and allow to dry for one hour. Allow a curing time of approximately 10 minutes between each coat of primer. Rub the dry primer lightly with the sanding pad. Remove dust and grit with the tack cloth.

Apply three coats of aerosol wheel silver. Allow a curing time of five minutes between each coat of silver. Inspect the silver for paint sags and runs and remove them with the sticky side of a piece of masking tape if necessary. Allow the silver to dry for approximately one hour before unmasking the wheels.

Things You'll Need

  • Random orbital sander
  • P180-grit sanding discs
  • P180-grit sanding paper
  • Ultra-fine-grade sanding pad
  • Can of compressed air
  • Polyester filler
  • Small plastic spatula
  • Solvent-based degreaser
  • Cloth
  • Tack cloth
  • Aerosol self-etching primer
  • Aerosol wheel silver
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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.