Alloy Wheel Scratch Repair: What to Do About Scraped Rims

alloy wheel scratch repair

You’ve misjudged your parallel parking job and ended up with a scraped rim.

Don’t panic. You don’t have to take your car to a mechanic and spend an obscene amount for them to fix it. You can do it yourself at home.

Take a look at this DIY guide to learn everything you need to know about alloy wheel scratch repair.

Check the Rim for Damage

Before you start your repairs, take a close look at the wheel of your car to check the full extent of the damage. A few scrapes on your rim aren’t serious. You can fix them on your own with a few basic supplies.

If the tire itself is damaged, you may want to take it to an auto body shop. Driving on a damaged tire is dangerous, and it can result in an accident or serious injuries.

Clean the Rim

Any repairs you make will last longer if the rim is clean. To make sure you get all the dirt worked out of the scratch, scrub the rim over with a mild cleaner and paint thinner.

Wash with a Non-Abrasive Cleanser

Find a mild wheel cleaner and spray it over the damaged rim. Use a normal washcloth to scrub the cleaner into the scratch and clean away any debris.

If your tire is filthy, you may want to do a more detailed cleaning. This will wash off most of the major dust and dirt, which will make your repair job easier.

Wash with Paint Thinner

Paint cleaner is a good way to get any last dust off your rim.

You should always wear a respirator and a pair of gloves while handling paint thinner. Dip a clean washcloth into the paint thinner and scrub it over the rim until all the dirt is gone.

Dry the Rim

After cleaning away all that dirt and dust, make sure you dry the rim with a lint-free cloth. If you don’t have a lint-free cloth, you can also let your rim air dry on their own.

The rim must dry all the way before you continue with the repairs. If you try working with a wet rim, the repairs won’t stick.

Protect Your Tire

Put a layer of masking tape over your tire. This should be at least one to two inches thick. As you start to sand and paint your rim, the tape will protect your tire from damage. It will also prevent any debris from getting on your tire.

Buff and Fill the Scrape with Putty

You’ll need two different types of sandpaper for this part of the repair process. Make sure you have 240 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper. You’ll also need to get a container of metal-reinforced spot putty.

Keep a dry cloth on hand so you can wipe any dust and debris away.

Buff with 240 Grit Sandpaper

Holding the back of your sandpaper, rub the scratches to smooth any bumps or edges. Be careful not to buff any undamaged areas. Make sure you’re only buffing the scrapes and scratches.

Keep sanding the scratches until they feel smooth when you run your fingers over them.

Fill with Metal-Reinforced Spot Putty

Use a putty knife to apply the metal-reinforced spot putty on the scraped area. You’ll need to put some pressure on the knife to ensure the putty makes its way into the scratches.

Don’t worry about keeping all the putty in the scratches. Spreading the putty around the entire scratched area helps fill the scrapes better. But don’t go overboard. Applying the putty over undamaged parts of the rim could create bumps.

Let the putty dry before you do anything else. The exact drying time will depend on the brand of putty you get. It should take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

Buff with 400 Grit Sandpaper

Buffing the rim a second time with 400 grit sandpaper will give the putty a smooth finish. Sand the putty down until it looks level with the rim’s surface.

Prime and Paint the Rim

As you start priming and painting your rim, make sure you’re wearing the proper safety gear. If you don’t protect yourself, you could end up with irritated eyes, lungs, and skin. Put on a respirator, gloves, and goggles before opening any paint.

Stop what you’re doing right away if you begin to feel lightheaded or nauseated. To keep this from happening, you should always prime and paint in an area that has good ventilation.

Create a Barrier Around the Damage Area

You don’t have to prime and paint your entire rim. To make sure you only spray more of the rim than you intend, create a barrier around the damaged area. You can do this with kraft paper and masking tape.

Double check the masking tape is also secure around your tire. It’ll be hard to remove metallic paint from your tires if you make a mistake.

Apart from the damaged area, you should cover as much of the wheel as you can.

Spray with Metal Alloy Primer

A primer will make the paint look more natural and blend in with the rest of the rim. It will also create a surface that the paint can stick to.

You should stand at least six inches away from the rim as you spray. A single coat of primer is all the rim needs. Let this coat dry for about an hour before you switch to paint.

Spray with Metallic Spray Paint

Make sure the metallic spray paint you choose matches the color of your rim. Stand 10 inches from the tire and apply one coat of paint, moving your arm in a single sweeping movement.

Let the paint dry for an hour before applying another coat with the same sweeping motion. Repeat this process another two to three times.

Allowing the paint to dry between coats will make the finished product look smooth.

Spray with Lacquer to Seal the Paint

A lacquer will prevent your new paint job from peeling, scuffing, or chipping off. You only need a light mist of lacquer, and you should apply it the same way you applied the paint. Let this dry for at least 24 hours before touching the rim.

DIY Alloy Wheel Scratch Repair

Scratching one of your rims is annoying, but it’s not difficult to repair. All it takes is a bit of sandpaper, some metal-reinforced spot putty, primer, and metallic paint. Remember to wear the proper safety gear and work in a well-ventilated area when doing your alloy wheel scratch repair.

Now your rims look good, but what about the rest of it? Take a look at this guide to learn how you can buff, wax, and polish your car.

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