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How To:- Alloy Wheel Refurbishment

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Items needed

Masking tape
Wet and dry sandpaper preferably 800
Wire brush
Lacquer remover or paint stripper (Spray can version)
Spray Primer (etch primer if possible)
Spray Paint such as alloy wheel paint or car paint.
Clear automotive lacquer.

Prepping the wheels

Remove any weights from the front of the wheel before you start.

Give the wheels a quick scrub down with some warm soapy water to remove and surface dirt. Allow the wheels to dry and mask the tyre wall and valves with lots of masking tape, use a few layers to stop the paint stripper soaking through to the tyre.

Only use the paint stripper on the wheel itself, not the centre cap as it will melt it.

Give the wheel a quick rub down with a wire brush to scratch the old lacquer, this is not vital but I found it helped the paint stripper to work better. Spray on the paint/lacquer remover and allow it to work for about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let it dry on the wheel, spray on more stripper if necessary to keep it wet.

When the surface of the wheel starts to bubble up use a paint scraper or pressure washer to remove the old lacquer and paint. Give the wheel another good wash in soapy water to remove any remaining paint stripper, and allow the wheel to dry.

Once dry use wet and dry paper to smooth all the surfaces for priming. The longer you spend on smoothing the better the end result will be. Wash the again wheel to remove any grime from sanding.

To remove the silver paint from the centre caps use wet and dry paper until the yellow plastic starts to show through. Rinse off the dust and allow it to dry.


Before priming, painting and lacquering make sure that the room is warm and dry and the wheels are at room temperature for best results.

Re-mask the tyre walls and valves with masking tape and or newspaper, you wont need as much this time but make sure to cover the tyre walls and tread with newspaper to avoid getting paint on them.

Spray on the primer using overlapping strokes, hold the can about 20cms away from the wheel and centre caps. Build the primer up little by little leaving about 10 to 15 minutes drying time between coats. Give the wheels 3 to 4 coats of primer and leave to dry for about an hour.


Using the same method as for the primer build up the layers of paint slowly, making sure to get an even coverage on the wheel. The longer you take over painting will result in a better finish. Spray the paint on so that the wheel looks wet and smooth, but be careful not to use to much otherwise the paint will run. Again give the wheels about 3 to 4 coats with 15 minutes between each coat, and allow about an hour for the paint to dry before spraying on the lacquer.


As with painting and priming make sure the room is warm and dry before lacquering. Spray on the Lacquer with over lapping strokes doing each spoke at a time, try to get the same glass like finish when spraying. Allow at least 15 minutes between each coat of lacquer.

The more layers of lacquer you use the more protection it will provide, so anywhere between 3 and 5 coats should be sufficient. Once all the coats have been sprayed remove the masking tape from the tyre. Carefully run a knife around the rim to remove any masking tape which may have stuck to the paint. Leave the wheels and centre caps to dry for at least 24 hours in a warm dry room.

Leave up to 5 days before polishing the surface to ensure that it has fully set.

Fit the wheels and have them rebalanced, stand back and enjoy!


Simon Burch

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