Car Care: How to give your rims a facelift

It's easy to get scratched alloys looking good as new

A good clean and a bit of sanding and paint is all it needs to repair minor damage to alloys.
A good clean and a bit of sanding and paint is all it needs to repair minor damage to alloys.

You have found an empty parking space and as you reverse into the park you hear the gut-wrenching sound as your alloy wheel scrapes the curb.

With some alloys costing as much as $2000 each, it's something we try to avoid, but sometimes it's just a case of bad luck.

Lance Bell, of Arrow Wheels, says 95 per cent of alloys are painted or clear coated and the coating over time gets stone chips and curb gouges.

"People need to have a good look now and again for chips, damage and paint flaking," says Bell.

However, if the damage is minor, it is possible to repair it yourself. Here is a way to repair minor damage to your alloys.

1. The gear
You will need masking tape and sandpaper.

Putty, paint thinner, high-gloss clear lacquer and wheel primer are also needed, plus spray paint to match the colour of your alloy. Specialist paint shops such as Resene and PPG should have these items, while wheel primer can be bought from automotive specialist stores such as Repco.

2. Clean
The first step is to clean the damaged area. Make sure to get any wax or polish off the rim by using a lint-free cloth - detergent is best for removing any tyre protectant you may have on - then dry.

3. Sand and putty
Mask the tyre from the wheel, making sure to get the masking tape well behind the rim, then sand the damaged area and wipe on some putty. When the putty dries, sand again. A good technique is to cover the sandpaper over a wooden block or eraser, depending on the size of the damage, so you get the smoothest finish possible.

4. Mask and primer

Cleaning the wheel with a sponge
Cleaning the wheel with a sponge

Mask the entire tyre and wheel arch. You can do this with an old sheet or similar. Spray the primer on the affected area and, if necessary, wipe the overspray off the undamaged areas. Wait for the primer to dry then lightly sand.

5. Painting
Shake the spray can well before use. Apply a fine undercoat and wait for it to dry. It is best to leave it overnight and continue the next day. If you find the paint is lifting, use your paint thinner to remove it. It shouldn't eat into the primer, so simply clean the wheel again and respray.

After this coat dries, apply a second and third coat of the corresponding colour. When this dries, apply polish.

6. Finish
Your wheel should now look as good as new.


Damage to wheels is not always clearly visible - cracks, bends and other problems can severely weaken a rim's structure and, even at low speed, be incredibly dangerous. If you think that there's even a small chance that the damage to your vehicle's wheel is more than simply cosmetic, it must be checked by a professional.

- NZ Herald

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