how to refinish aluminum wheels

How to Refinish Aluminum Wheels: Step-by-Step Guide 2023

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Aluminum wheels alter the appearance of the ride, and they add a set of custom wheels. In reality, these seem to be the first modifications done on a vehicle getting customized and changed. The correct pair of wheels can turn an average-looking car into a fantastic vehicle! The aluminum wheels are vulnerable, and it is a very tedious task to refinish aluminum wheels, but we can do it by ourselves and save our precious money.

A quick tip to see if your wheel is coated or not is to take a clean rag with some metal polish and give a quick rub on the wheel. If it comes out clean, the wheel is coated, which will need to be removed before polishing, but if it turns out black, then the wheel is bare aluminum.

Why do we Need to Refinish Aluminum Wheels?

how to refinish aluminum wheels

In most cases, the aluminum wheels are painted with a clear coat to protect them from scratches and chipping. This protective layer can get damaged over time due to road debris or other factors such as extreme temperatures. If you have ever hit something while driving and felt your car bumping like it’s been hit by an invisible force, then chances are that your aluminum wheel’s clear coat has been damaged.

It is due to our climatic and weather conditions as alloys corrode, eventually leading to air loss. But replacing these alloys can be costly, and refurbishing is always an alternative to replacing and is usually much cheaper.

When we refurbish your alloys, we sand them down and try to sand away all the corrosion, BUT there is always the possibility that it has eaten so far into the alloy that, eventually, it will come back. The longer we leave the corrosion, the more likely it is to come back. If we get them refurbished early, there are more chances of the delay being inevitable.

What materials are required to Refinish the Aluminum Wheels?

How to Refinish Aluminum Wheels at Home?

1. Prep Work 

We prepare the work area by jacking the car on ground level so our tire can rotate. If this enables our lug nuts to protrude, remove all that doesn’t extend beyond the wheel’s surface. Also, try to mask the tires and protect the valve stem from any damage that may be inflicted.

2. Initial Cleaning 

Use the wheel and tire cleaner to remove any dust and dirt built up on the wheels. We need to make sure to rinse our tires well and let them dry. This step is crucial as we do not want to sand the grime in the aluminum.

3. The Sanding Process 

Begin here by sanding each lug nut hole between the spokes with coarser sandpaper. This is an essential step in starting point because it is easy to scratch the surface, and we can smoothen out the scratches next. Now sand the wheels at a lower speed with a sander-polisher and a full range of sandpaper grits. Make sure, to begin with a higher grit and then lower the grit to smooth out any scratches.

4. Polish 

 Begin the polishing process with polishing cream and a polisher. Moisten the polishing pad with water and then rinse and repeat this process until achieving the desired shine.

5. Wax 

 Once we are done washing and drying the entire aluminum wheel, we can begin to wax the surface or degrease it and coat it with crystal-clear paint. The addition of a clear coat of paint adds a layer of protection.

6. Remount Tire 

We must ensure our lug nuts and weights are balanced and the valve stem is positioned correctly. Here we are finishing refinishing the aluminum wheel. Next is to leave it in an airy space for at least five hours to ensure the paint is dry. Lastly, we can remove the tape and paper, and finally, we have new aluminum wheels!

Precautions to take when refinishing aluminum wheels

  • Safety

Always wear safety glasses and gloves while working on your car’s wheels or refinishing them. You may also want to have some protective clothing on hand, such as pants and a long-sleeved shirt with long cuffs that can be pulled over the top edge of the drill bit when drilling out studs, if required (this is not recommended since it could cause harm).

The essential thing here is security! Wear these items every time just as a precautionary measure, which hopefully won’t be needed, but better safe than sorry!

  • No one likes a messy workplace.

If you’re planning on carrying out the refinishing process yourself, keep in mind that it’s a messy operation. Because cleaning up afterward might be difficult, you’ll want to work in an area that can easily be cleaned, such as a garage or driveway. To protect the surface from overspray, spread some old newspaper or cardboard on top.

  • Check the tools

Before refinishing your wheels, remove all of the lug nuts. If you use a power drill, ensure the bit is the correct size for the screw or bolt you are removing. If you have any stickers on your tires, remove them before refinishing them, so they don’t get damaged.

  • Don’t skip any step

When repairing the wheels, we must completely strip off the paint. Once the wheels are stripped and scratches are sanded out, the wheels are ready to be repainted or sprayed with a clear coat.

When refinishing the wheel, the correct method is to remove the tires from the available rims. We can omit this step if we don’t want to waste money and effort reinstalling it again. It would help if you chose an open area to refinish the aluminum wheels because there will be so much dust and odors that can hurt you in the small, closed garage.

  • After you are done

When applying the paint, we must use three layers of color while giving them some time to dry amongst each layer. You must not keep wheels under the sun because the sunlight can not only dry the paint faster but can also hurt the tires.

How Long Does It Take to Refinish Aluminum Wheels?

The typical time for an aluminum wheel to get restored is about five days or more. However, because most professionals already know what has to be done at each stage and their experience aids in speeding up all aspects of the work, don’t worry too much about how long it will take–hire someone who knows better than we do how to refinish aluminum wheels! The whole process takes roughly four days if you’re doing it yourself.

Usually, the aluminum wheels are painted with a clear coat so they don’t get scratched or chipped.

Final Words

It is not cheap to have a car. When taking vehicles to the garage, any small item can cost dollars in rate. So we must have specific knowledge if we own a car. Because we can always fix and repair things by ourselves.

Refinishing aluminum wheels is a great way to give your car that new look and feel. When done correctly, it can increase the value of your vehicle too! So what are you waiting for? Pick up some paint today so you can get started right away.

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