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How To Refurbish Aluminum Rims?

How To Refurbish Aluminium Rims?

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Refurbishing aluminum rims are a great way to save money and give your old car a fresh new look. Refinishing aluminum rims can also be done at home with essential tools, patience, and elbow grease.

Whether you want to do the work yourself or have it completed by someone else, there are several things you should know before beginning this project. To get started on your rim refurbishment journey, keep reading!

First of all, it’s essential to remove the existing finish on your aluminum alloy wheels using chemical or abrasive methods. Remove as much of the old coating as possible for best results. It is essential to wear proper safety equipment such as gloves and goggles whenever you use chemicals during refinishing projects.

The first step is to clean the rims thoroughly, using soap and water or an alkaline cleaner. Wash your wheels off with soapy water, rinse them off well, and wipe down the surface of the rim with a damp cloth. If you are looking for more aggressive cleaning methods, try dipping your aluminum alloy wheels into a solution of 5 parts water to 1 part muriatic acid. Place the wheels in the mixture and let them soak for about 15 minutes or so, scrubbing off any remaining dirt or grime at the same time.

Another option is to use an abrasive method such as wire brushing to remove old coatings from your aluminum rims. Wire brushes work well for this purpose, though you should first remove the wheel hubs to don’t damage them. Remove any loose or flaking paint using a wire brush and other tools, then clean the rims again with soap and water to remove residue from the abrasive method.

After you have removed as much old paint as possible, you should prime the rims to prepare them for a new finish. Use a primer that adheres evenly and smoothly to aluminum. Several types of primers are available, including both water-based and oil-based products that provide high coverage and glossy results. Follow the instructions on your particular brand of primer carefully, as they will differ in terms of proper application.

Once your aluminum rims are primed, you can apply the finish coating to the wheels. Several types of layers will work well on the boundaries, including metallic paint or clear coat. You should prime your wheels before applying any kind of finish, however, since this will help prevent bleeding and other issues that may occur.

Most types of finish will need to be applied with a high-pressure sprayer, as this is the easiest way to provide good coverage and even application over the surface of the rim. Make sure you use a sprayer with an adjustable fan-pattern nozzle, producing wide or narrow patterns.

You can purchase high-pressure sprayers at most hardware or home improvement stores. Apply the coating evenly to the surface of the rim, then allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before using your newly refurbished aluminum alloy wheels.


There are several advantages to refinishing your aluminum alloy rims instead of having them done by someone else.

  1. By refinishing your wheels yourself, you will save a significant amount of money.
  2. You can control the quality of the coating material applied to your aluminum alloy rims.
  3. several types of coating offer different results, so it is up to you which type you want to use on your rims.
  4. You can restore your aluminum wheels yourself when you have time and don’t need them for an extended period.


While refinishing your alloy rims by yourself does come with several advantages, it also comes with a few disadvantages that should be considered before beginning this type of project:

  1. many projects need to be done simultaneously to refinish alloy rims, so you will need multiple days to complete the work correctly.
  2. You will need several tools and supplies, making the project more expensive than having someone else do it for you.
  3. There are health concerns involved in working with some of the chemicals required to refinish alloy rims. If you are not adequately trained, it may be best to have someone else complete the work.
  4. You will need a large amount of elbow grease and time to finish your aluminum alloy rims by yourself fully.

How Do You Make Old Aluminium Rims Look New?

Step 1

Clean the rims. Please make sure they are clean and free of all dirt, grease, oils, brake dust, and other contaminants before starting any polishing process.

Step 2

Sand them down. Use 600-grit sandpaper to remove any flaking or lose paint, then clean again with soapy water to remove residue. Allow them to dry.

Step 3

Use a wire brush and sanding sponge to remove any rust or scratches, then clean again with isopropyl alcohol. Allow them to dry completely before continuing.

Step 4

Apply an etching primer using a spray can (chrome/aluminum). Let this dry for 60 minutes, then apply another coat and let it dry overnight.

Step 5

Apply a base coat of etching primer by spray to cure the paint per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Step 6

Sand down with 400-grit sandpaper, then clean again to remove residue. Allow them to dry before moving on.

Step 7

Apply an acrylic urethane topcoat using a spray can. Let this dry for 24 hours, then apply another coat and cure per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Done!


No matter which procedure you choose, the finished appearance of your refurbished aluminum alloy wheels will have a fantastic new look that is well worth the work involved in restoring them.  By following the tips in this article, you should get great results with minimal effort.


Q. I only need to refinish the wheel centers on my alloy rims; can I send those in?

No.  If you would like your center wheel caps, lug nut covers, or valve stem rings refinished as well, then you will need to include them with your wheels when sending or bringing them in.

Q. I have a scratch on my alloy wheel; can it be fixed?

No. If the metal is scratched or gouged, then there is no way to refinish just that area and fix it. Your only option will be to replace the wheel if you want to remove the scratch altogether.