Alloy Wheel Refurbishment

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This guide goes through the steps required to refurbish wheels or repair minor cosmetic damage (kerb rash, stone chips etc). The same general techniques can be applied to any painted or powder coated wheels and if you’re patient and take your time, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve an excellent finish at home. Diamond cut wheels are not covered in this particular guide as specialist equipment is required, but we do cover split rims and polished wheels in a separate article. For pot hole or crash damage, get your wheels checked out by an expert – and if you’re in any doubt about their integrity, cut your losses and scrap them.




Now that you’ve got everything you need, let’s begin…
      1. Inspect the damage to determine which products you’ll need for your repair and ensure that the wheel itself is structurally sound.
      2. If you’ve got a file this could be a good time to use it, but use it with caution to reshape or de-burr particularly bad areas.
      3. Move on to a reasonably coarse wet and dry paper (e.g. 240) to rough up the surface immediately surrounding the damaged area. This will allow the filler to properly bond.
      1. Mix your filler to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply to the damaged area. Use as little as you can get away with and try to keep it within the damaged area only (you can always add more later if required).
      2. After the filler has hardened, you can start to reshape the profile of the rim. Obviously a coarser wet and dry paper will allow you to make swifter progress, but you run the risk of taking too much off at once. 320 would be a good starting point, moving up the grades as you get closer to a shape that you’re happy with.
      3. Reapply and repeat this stage as necessary until you’re happy with the shape of the rim. It’s worth taking your time to get this right, as any imperfections that remain will still be visible after paint.
      1. It’s always a good idea to start with a filler primer as this will help to cover the most minor imperfections which remain from the previous stage. Spray this over the damaged area and wait for it to dry before adding multiple coats as required. Once the filler primer has completely dried, you can carefully sand it back with 600 grit wet and dry paper but don’t worry if any filler starts to show through from below. One of the benefits of using a filler primer is that you can easily identify high/low spots that may need more sanding or filling.
      2. Due to the strong orange colour of the filler primer, it’s a wise move to spray a coat of regular grey primer over the top so the wheel is ready to accept a colour coat. Rub the area down again with 800+ grit, ready to take the colour.
      3. Next, gradually layer up the colour. Apply thin layers to avoid runs until the colour is nice and solid with nothing showing through from the primer below. It may take multiple coats to achieve a satisfactory finish.
      4. If you do make a mess of things you can always sand back and repeat, but it’s important not to do this for your final coats (especially if the colour is metallic as it will dull the sparkle).
      5. When you have finished putting the colour coats on, allow the paint to fully dry – the longer the better.
      6. Once the colour has fully dried, it’s time to spray to lacquer. Like the colour coat, layer it up until you have an even glossy finish without any runs. When you’re happy with the lacquer you’ve sprayed, put the wheel aside and allow to dry completely.


You may be happy with the finish you get after the lacquer fully hardens, but these additional steps will provide increased gloss, longevity and a surface that’s harder for dirt and brake dust to stick to…

All information on this page is credited to Wheel Shrine: