Accidentally curbing your nice alloy wheels is a good way to completely ruin your day.
Thankfully, most minor damage is a relatively easy repair.
Yup. You can fix curbed, scuffed or scratched wheels yourself if you are the handy type.
A bit of paint touch-up experience helps too!
Believe it or not, making cosmetic wheel repairs at home is not that difficult (if you can find the paint!).
When DIY is Not an Option
Of course, you can always call a mobile alloy wheel repair service. Sending your wheels to a wheel repair shop is another route.
Did you hit a pothole or slam into a curb? How bad is it?
I’ll be honest…
Bent or flat-spotted wheels often cannot be repaired.
Sometimes a wheel refurbishment shop is the only option.
Or is it?
You can also search for a second-hand alloy wheel. I’ve had luck buying a used alloy wheel. It matched my set.
Mobile Alloy Wheel Refurbishment
Before we dig in, I want to share a couple of quick stories.
I recently had my first experience with a mobile wheel repair service.
Let me tell you. The guy was amazing!
I had taken my Porsche Cayenne in for new tires. The shop was nearly empty. The manager put two techs on my car.
I couldn’t believe it.
They had me out in record time. I was feeling good with a new set of Pirelli tires.
But, that’s only half the story…
I washed the car when I got home. It’s then I noticed damage to both wheels on the right side.
One had a rim scrape from the pry bar used to guide the tire on the rim. The other had a nick on the face of a wheel spoke.
I was really furious!
Unfortunately, I didn’t see the damage before leaving the shop. I was certain I’d get the “run around” from the store.
You know what? I was totally wrong.
Instead they put me in touch with a local San Diego company (Velvet Touch Wheel Services). My tech’s name was Hayden.
He did an amazing job. Within an hour he had both wheels looking perfect again. I don’t mean “good match,” I mean PERFECT.
Guys, I literally could not see where he made the repair.
Here’s my point:
I contrast this type of service with my previous experience (keep reading) of trying to do the job myself.
But before I tell you this DIY story, let me just say this:
I am an experienced painter. I have refinished many cars.
In fact, creating custom car bodies was a hobby of mine when I was a young man.
Here we go! A long, long time ago…
(Not really, depends on how old you are!)
In 2005, I had purchased a new set of Kinesis wheels. They were a 3-piece design with a polished rim and a metallic silver in the center.
I needed to change brake pads and fluid. This was shortly after getting the wheels.
Somehow I spilled brake fluid on one of the wheels. This caused the paint to discolor and blister.
I decided to fix it myself rather than send it in for refinishing.
That turned out to be a big mistake.
Take it from me and learn from my bad decisions.
In fact, I’m not likely to do a mag wheel repair again. I will share the experience with you now.
When Things Don’t Go Smoothly
I ordered a can of Wurth silver wheel paint. Also, some Wurth clear coat lacquer.
I prepared the wheel by sanding the damaged area while waiting for the paint to arrive. I also shot it with a coat of primer.
When I got the delivery I noticed something…
Turns out the paint was defective and would not spray. I ordered another.
The replacement arrived in working order. This time the color did not match. Only the tint was correct.
Needless to say, no amount of finessing would get the finish to match.
Frustrating to say the least!
I called the local Wurth rep to ask if there was a different lot than the two cans I had.
You guessed it.
The product was unavailable for an indefinite time.
A manufacturing issue. No kidding!
Here’s what I did.
I re-shot the entire center of the wheel with a different brand (1Z Einszett).
Sadly, it’s not as close a match as what Wurth is supposed to be. Close enough.
NASARacer Wheel Refurbishment Method
by NASAracer, AudiWorld
Well, there I was, backing into a parking space against a curb.
I was in a hurry and I heard it… SCRAPE!
One fraction of a second and barely moving. Got out and looked at the rim…
Well, no need to fear. I’ve done this enough times.
There’s an easy way to do home repairs with a few simple items.
Note: This particular procedure only covers light scuffs.
This isn’t meant to repair a damaged wheel or scuffs or significant damage to the rim.
The focus is this:
Annoying superficial wheel scuffs (the ones that happen more times than we care to admit).
Sure, there are plenty of good retail services for this. Many of you will happily use them.
But, I’m inpatient.
I have the free time (generally) to spend a couple of hours on a repair.
Plus, it really takes the edge off “donking” my wheels – when I know I can fix it myself.
The required parts are as follows:
- Wurth Silver Wheel Lacquer
- Wurth High Gloss Clear Lacquer
- A quality primer
- 240 and 400 wet & dry sand paper
- Masking tape & masking paper
Alternatively, you could get Wurth’s Wheel Scuff Repair Kit.
It includes their Clean-Solve, 1Z Einszett Silver Wheel Spray Paint, their High Gloss Clear Lacquer, a Cobra Mango Breeze Microfiber Towel and 2 Wolfgang Finger Pockets.
Clean, Clean, Clean
This is one of the most important steps.
Use paint thinner to thoroughly clean the entire area around the damage. Remove all traces of wax and silicones from the wheel surface.
No need to worry.
I’ll remind you every step of the way to clean, clean and clean.
I’ll probably end up wiping down these surfaces 10 or more times before painting.
If you don’t do this, the rest is pointless. The repair just won’t work!
Also, you should only work on the area of the wheel that is damaged.
Don’t go nuts!
Don’t try to paint half your wheel on the car.
For this technique to succeed… we will only sand and paint the immediate area.
Sand and Putty
I like to start by masking the tire from the wheel.
Get the masking tape well behind the rim. Next, lightly sand the area to a nice “feather” with 240 grit sandpaper.
Now, apply spot putty.
Important: This entire project will work best if its a nice, warm day.
Spot putty drying time is minutes. But, if it’s cold or damp, this project may not work out too well.
So, here’s what you do…
Work in direct sunlight, if necessary. Keep the work area warm (not hot).
Remember to keep your sanding to the immediate area. Trust me on this!
Once you’ve done the 1st round of putty, switch to the finer sandpaper (400 grit in my case).
You want to sand and putty until it feels and looks flush.
You’ll know – because it’s a beautiful thing 🙂
I use the paper wrapped around a piece of wood. It makes for a flat sanding block.
Sand with a flat block to get a smooth, level finish.
Okay, here’s where a bit of laziness could create a problem.
An entirely new project.
You see, the silver metallic paint will get everywhere. I’m talking permanently attached to the fenders.
You don’t want that! I’m just warning you guys!
Mask carefully and cover the entire car with an old sheet or equivalent.
I’ve used the scratch-filler primer and sanded it. I also put a bit more putty on.
Note: this is the first place where I use my special technique.
Immediately after I spray the primer (or paint) what do I do?
I clean the overspray off the spokes (clean rag and paint thinner). Also, the area around the inside of the rim.
We only want to paint the repair.
Listen! Only the clear coat will be sprayed without wiping off the over-spray.
At this point, wait for the primer to fully dry. Then, lightly sand it with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper.
VITAL: Read the instructions on the can!
That’s a must.
Here’s an example of what the manufacturer may be trying to tell you:
Many paints, in cold temperatures (or at least in damp conditions), will be a mess to work with.
- Shake the can for at least a full minute.
- Push the spray nozzle as you sweep across. Release at the end.
- Spray on, spray off. Spray on, spray off.
- Apply a very fine coat. You’re not trying for glossy. Clearcoat will do that!
Now we should be nearly done but (as always), Pete got inpatient.
Look. He sprayed the clear way too soon.
As a result, the clearcoat lifted the silver paint and messed up my job.
This is no biggie.
Take a deep breath, get out your rag and the paint thinner and take it all off.
I caught a break. The thinner I used did not eat into the primer.
I simply cleaned the wheel (again) and re-sprayed the silver paint.
Apply 2 thin coats of clear (20-30 minutes of drying time) between coats AFTER the silver colorcoat dries.
Overnight is best.
Later you can use 1500-2000 grit wet and dry or a fine cut compound to feather in traces of the repair.
Apply a final polish to restore full gloss.
Alloy Wheel Repair – The Takeaway
The job is easy enough. Don’t sweat it guys.
The problem most DIYers run into is finding the right paint.
Reality dictates one brand and color does not fit all.
Actually, the German car makers have pretty much standardized. But the Asian imports have several colors. GM, Ford and Chrysler never agree on anything.
Next you’ll want to check out our page on Show Tires & Wheels!