Rim Refinishing Guide for Proper Restoration Rim Refinishing Guide for Proper Restoration

You can do wheel rim refinishing in your driveway or garage, if you need to fix just a slight scuff, caused by scraping against a curb, or a post in the parking lot. Follow the tips on this guide to refinish your aluminum wheel rims so they gleam like new again.

Collect Your Materials

  • Paint thinner

  • Magnifying glass, small
  • Cloths, dry soft

  • Epoxy bonding putty

  • Aluminum rim paint (many carmakers use a silver-colored aluminum paint  called Wurth)

  • Drop cloth

  • Primer designed to fill scratches

  • Masking tape

  • Sandpaper, in several grades from 220-grit to 2000-grit ultrafine (Wind the sandpaper in 2 layers around a small 2 x 2-inch wood block to exert pressure more evenly over the area.)

Clean the Scrape

Apply some paint thinner to a soft cloth and work it into the scrape to clean it thoroughly. Repeat the cleaning process a few times, and then check the scrape with the magnifying glass to ensure you have removed all the dirt, concrete grit, and other foreign matter. You also must remove the existing paint and any protective coating from the scrape, as they will stop the new paint from adhering.

Prepare the Wheel and Tire for Sanding

Cover the tire to about 4 inches out from the wheel rim with masking tape, tucking it firmly under the rim to protect the tire sidewall from sandpaper grit and dirt.

First and Second Sanding

Apply a thin layer of epoxy putty, which will lift off the dirt and paint from the scrape as you sand it. Sand initially with the 220-grit paper to define edges, and balance the peaks and valleys of the scrape. Confine sanding rigorously to the scrape area. Put on a second layer of putty, and polish the scrape more finely with a medium 400-grit paper. Check after each sanding with the magnifying glass, to note your progress.

Final Sanding

Sand the scrape once more before painting with an ultrafine 2000-grit paper, directly on the metal. Test the surface, particularly the edges, for smoothness with both your hands and the magnifying glass.

Paint the Rim to Refinish

Mask around the rim area to be painted with more tape, and cover the rest of your car with a large painter's drop cloth. Spray on a thin coat of the filling primer and allow it to dry to a smooth finish. Use a clean cloth and paint thinner to cleanse off any paint spillage where you do not want it. Sand the primer with the 400-grit paper lightly, and carefully apply the spray aluminum paint to the sanded area.

Apply a Clear Protective Coating

Wait for the paint to dry overnight and then spray the clear protective coating onto the repainted rim. Allow the clearcoat to dry for about 2 hours before removing the tape masking and the drop cloth from your car.

Work on refinishing your rims on a warm sunny day, so that the putty, primer and paint can dry effectively. Cloudy, damp weather will impede all the tasks you need to do to refinish your rims, and will yield a disappointing result.



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