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post #1 of (permalink) Old 28th March 2007 Thread Starter
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Painted Alloy Wheel Repairs

Painted Alloy Wheel repairs

Number two in a series of DIY Small - Medium Area Repair Techniques (S.M.A.R.T.)

Why do we need to do it / what we are trying to achieve

Our car***8217;s wheels serves 2 main purposes;
  • To keep the tyres stable & inflated
  • To enhance the appearance of the vehicle
The principle is that rim damage (either through contact with the kerb or slight distortions) can be sanded out and the original shape/appearance maintained from a normal viewing distance.
It is also an opportunity to remove any damage caused by flying stones or poorly-finished paint/lacquer.
What you will need; (I am basing this on refurbishing all 4 wheels)
  • 2 aerosols of silver paint ***8211; I would recommend BMW TITAN SILVER (CODE 354) as it matches 95% of all silvers on the market.
  • Sandpaper sheets/discs at least 3 of each of the following grades (80 grit/180 grit/240 grit/500 grit) or, as close to these as possible. Also a sanding block if working by hand ***8211; or a mini sander if using a power tool.
  • 2 aerosols of (grey) primer.
  • 1 roll of wide masking tape & a newspaper.
  • Trolley jack & 4 axle stands
  • 2 aerosols of clear lacquer
  • 1 bottle of alloy wheel cleaner
  • Somewhere dry & sheltered for working - needs to be well-ventilated as solvents are being used.
  • Source of heat (lamp/radiator)
  • A bit of chalk for marking off where the wheels were fitted on the car (if the car has pressure sensors).
  • A workbench for providing a level surface at a comfortable height for working/painting.
In terms of how easy they are to use - here are a few pointers and the method I would use;
  • On level firm ground, identify the jacking point and raise the car one side at a time (loosening the wheel nuts first).
  • Remove the wheels (only raise the car the minimum height required to get the axle stands underneath ***8211; this gives extra stability).
  • Jack up & repeat on the other side as required ***8211; keep checking the other side to ensure the stands haven***8217;t tilted.
  • Give the wheels a good clean (on both sides) using the alloy cleaner (this prevents you from getting messy, and keeps the work surface as clean as possible. Remove the centre caps from the wheels (unless you are painting these as well).
  • Once the wheels are dry, tear off small strips (3-4 inches long) of the masking tape and lining up as close to the rim edge as possible, mask off the wheel ***8211; you will need to do a couple of layers to cover the sidewall. Remove the valve cap and wind some tape around the valve itself.
  • You are now ready to sand down the damaged/gouged areas ***8211; using the roughest paper ***8211; rub away any and all gouges and scraped areas, progressively moving to finer paper as you get the original shape back.
  • For any minor chips or for removing damaged paint ***8211; start off with the 240 grit and move up the grades.
  • Once the surfaces are smooth (you should not feel any ***8216;edges***8217; where the damaged areas were) and completely keyed ***8211; wipe down with a soft, clean cloth (removing any dust/debris).
  • The wheel is now ready for priming (so after shaking the can, apply light coats which get progressively heavier after each one dries. (It is an idea to get all wheels to this point, so that you can move from one wheel to the next, without waiting). If you get a run, don***8217;t worry ***8211; let it dry, and it will rub off. Just ensure that you get good, complete coverage of the wheel.
  • Once you have allowed the wheels to dry, just give the surface a wipe over with your fingertips (this will highlight any surface imperfections, and if it is limited to the primer, will smooth it out ***8211; your skin will act as 1000 grit wet & dry paper).
  • Now its time to apply the silver ***8211; so again, after shaking the can, apply the paint in the same way as before ***8211; but it is crucial to avoid runs, as this will mean you need to go back a step. Any ***8216;sags***8217; can be left to dry, and another coat of silver applied over it. Again, ensure good, complete coverage.
  • Allow the wheels to dry off completely (at least 2 hours in the presence of heat ***8211; double that, if there is no heat source).
  • Give the wheel surface a wipe over with your fingertips ***8211; you may notice that small fibres have become statically attracted to the paint ***8211; remove these.
  • Now you are ready to lacquer ***8211; again, as previously stated, a couple of light coats are needed initially ***8211; give them around an hour to dry off (if you wish a ***8216;satin finish***8217; you are basically finished. But if you want a shiny, glossy lustre ***8211; this will provide the foundation for your gloss coat(read on).
  • You need to apply a heavy coat (but don***8217;t get a run ***8211; this is where the skill is involved), and leave to dry off overnight ***8211; if heat is possible, it will help give a real shine.
  • After the lacquer has dried & hardened, remove the masking tape, and carefully fit the wheels to the car.
  • Don***8217;t use tyre or alloy cleaner for at least a week ***8211; as this will react with the lacquer and spoil the finish.

Remember alloy wheels need to be re-torqued after 100miles of being re-fitted.

Chrome/diamond-cut finished wheels require specialist facilities.

Hope that you find this article useful.


This job should never be complete - the day I think I've done it all, is the day I resign.

S.M.A.R.T. Technician
Currently in VelSatisfied's garage:
2005 FIAT Ducato 2.8JTD LWB Gran Volume, 2000 Kawasaki ZZR 1100 D7 'fullpower' in black + full GIVI & KAPPA luggage, 2007 MB R-Class 320 CDi Sport LWB uprated by Brabus to 300Bhp don't know if there's a 155mph limiter - will be fun finding out! 2004 Mercedes Vaneo 1.7 CDi Ambiente 7-seater

Last edited by VelSatisfied; 28th March 2007 at 10:46 AM. Reason: safety point
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