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How to repair plastic wheel covers

Updated February 21, 2017

If your car has hubcaps (or wheel covers) instead of solid wheels, you might notice the covers become chipped and damaged with age and road wear. Instead of buying solid wheels, you can repair your damaged wheel covers with a new coat of paint. Using a few simple tools and some speciality paint, you can refinish your hubcaps so they look like new.

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  1. Remove the wheel cover from the car. Using a flathead screwdriver, gently slide the tip of the screwdriver between the wheel cover and the wheel. Slowly pry the clips away from the wheel, working your way around the wheel cover until it's free from the tire.

  2. Wash the wheel cover with soap and water. Remove any bugs, brake dust, and dirt from the wheel cover. Dry it thoroughly when finished.

  3. Sand the wheel cover. Using 600-grit sandpaper, gently sand any rust, scratches, and road grime from the entire face of the hubcap.

  4. Wash the wheel cover with soap and water a second time. This will remove any of the sanding residue from the surface, which will cause small bumps in the final finish.

  5. Place the wheel cover on a few sheets of newspaper. Pick a well-ventilated location (outdoors is ideal), but not windy. You do not want any debris to blow on your project while the paint is drying.

  6. Spray primer on the hubcap. Thoroughly coat the hubcap with primer. Use a spray pattern that runs side to side, as well as front and back (similar to tic-tac-toe). Using this pattern will keep you from having any striping that might occur when painting in only one direction. Allow the wheel cover to dry, and then spray a second coat.

  7. Paint the wheel cover. Once the primer is dry, paint the wheel cover in a similar pattern, allowing the cover to dry completely between coats. Check the paint can for the appropriate drying time.

  8. Spray the wheel cover with clear coat. Allow the wheel cover to dry between coats. Spray the cover with two or three coats of clear coat. This will give your hubcap a professional, tough finish.

  9. Replace the wheel cover on the car.

  10. Warning

    Wear a mask when you are painting. Even though you are in a well-ventilated area, you don't want to breathe any of the toxic fumes.

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Things You'll Need

  • Primer
  • Wheel paint
  • Clear coat
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Newspaper scraps

About the Author

Joshua Black

Joshua Black is a business writer, copywriter and blogger who began his professional writing career in 2000. He has written numerous eBooks and has articles published on various websites and ezines on topics in small business, marketing, sales and sports. He holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial design from Western Michigan University.

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