How To Paint Car Wheels Like a Pro

When your car starts to look a little old and weary, the first thing we want to do is buy … Continued

When your car starts to look a little old and weary, the first thing we want to do is buy a newer, shinier model. Not only is this expensive, but it’s also mostly unnecessary too. There are a number of car hacks that can transform your tired-looking motor and instantly add a new lease of life.

One of the best ways to give your car a makeover, is to pay some serious attention to its wheels and give them some TLC – but with older, used cars, just cleaning the wheels isn’t going to cut it. Most cars could really benefit from a fresh lick of paint on the hubs to inject a little style into the design.

Don’t be put off by the DIY nature of this task. This is something most of us can do pretty easily and the best part is that it shouldn’t be expensive either.

Below we have given you an idea of what you will need to paint your car wheels and will walk you through the process step-by-step. Isn’t it time you paid some attention to your car wheels?

What You Need:

  • Bucket
  • Degreaser
  • Mild Dish Soap
  • Sponge & Cloths
  • Various Grits Of Sandpaper
  • Steel Wool
  • Masking Tape
  • Newspaper
  • Large Plastic Sheet
  • Car Wheel Paint Primer
  • Car Wheel Paint
  • Paint Sealer
  • Protective Clothing (Gloves, Overalls, Glasses & Respirator Mask)

paint car rims

Do You Need A Hand?

The first question you will need to ask yourself is how confident are you with mechanics? If you’re pretty confident then you might be able to take on the first task (removing the wheels) yourself. If not, then definitely get a professional to help you. How confident are you with spray paint? Again, if you don’t feel like you’re able to take this task on yourself then grab a buddy to help you transform those hubs!

Removing The Wheels

So, the first task you’re going to need to do before you begin painting your wheels, is to remove them from your vehicle. As much as you might be tempted to try and paint them whilst their still on your car – just don’t! For a full, professional paint job on your car wheels you’re going to need them on a flat surface so you can properly maneuver them. If you are planning on removing your own wheels then you’re going to need a few extra tools not mentioned in the list above.

To remove your car wheels you’re going to need the following:

  • Lug Wrench
  • Jack Lift
  • Jack Stand
  • Tyre Tool

At this stage you’re going to have to choose whether or not to tackle each wheel separately, taking one off at a time to clean and paint, or remove all four wheels on your vehicle at the same time and do them all together.

It’s all about personal preference, but we prefer removing all the wheels at once and working on all the tyres together. If this is what you decide to do then you’ll need four car jacks so you can suspend your car evenly.

How To Remove Your Car Wheels

Whilst your car wheels are still on the ground you will need to loosen the lug nuts found in the centre of the hub. You don’t want to remove them at this stage, just loosen. So you will need a lug wrench to twist them loose.

The next stage is to jack up your car, and the first question we need to ask is – how well do you know your vehicle? You will need to know the best jack points on your vehicle as this will differ from car to car so take a look at your car manual or look online. We can’t stress the importance of this stage of the process. You want to get the point in your car frame that can take the pressure with no damage.

Once you have found these points then you’ll need to jack up your car a few inches. Before starting this, make sure that your vehicle is on a flat surface and that you have room to work once the job is completed. Never jack your car on a wonky surface. Pump the jack to raise the vehicle and then use your lug wrench to fully remove the lug nuts and then put them somewhere safe. Carefully remove your car wheel by pulling the wheel gently towards you and then repeat on all sides.

The Clean Up

Once you’ve removed your wheels and laid them all down on a large plastic sheet then you’re ready to go. The next stage is one of the most important stages of wheel painting and it bizarrely doesn’t involve paint.

As with any other paint job, the key is in the preparation. The most important stage of this operation is to get those wheels sparkly clean. No time for cutting corners here. Think how dirty those hubs get on a daily basis, that grime needs washing away entirely before any amount of paint can touch them. So here’s what to do…

Related Posts: Best Wheel Cleaner Brushes and Best Wheel Cleaners

Using a mild soap and warm water mix you’ll need to gently clean away any dirt and debris with a soft sponge. Don’t skip any cleaning here too…the tire itself will need a good scrub too as well as the other side of course.

Once you have cleaned your wheel and rinsed off the soap and water mixture then you’ll need to apply a degreaser. You might not think you need this at this stage but trust us, this is the best stuff for removing build ups of dirt and brake dust. Repeat on both sides and allow to fully dry.

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Prep Time

Now you should have a set of four clean wheels in front of you, the real work now begins! Using a wire wool you’ll need to clean the wheel to remove any rust and old paint. Once you have finished, then give the wheels a wipe with a dry cloth and then using a 1,000 grit sandpaper, sand the surface to create small invisible abrasions which will help the paint to adhere. Rinse the wheel again and dry before using mineral spirits to remove any leftover residue from the wheel. Allow to dry.

Mask Off

As you’ve probably noticed, our method of painting car wheels does not involve removing the actual tire from the wheel. The reason for this? Removing the hub from the tyre is a bigger job than you realise and requires specialist tools. If you’ve hired a professional to help then it’s better to remove the hubs as it makes the paint process a whole lot easier, but if you’re taking on this job yourself, then this method is best.

Using a generous amount of masking tape, you should apply masking tape to the surface next to where you want to paint. Make sure you cover the actual tyre too and for this job you can use masking tape, plastic or newspaper. The only thing that should now be showing is the actual car hub. Once satisfied, then you’re ready to prime.

painted car wheels

Prime & Go

So, your wheels have now been cleaned, sanded and wiped. The next stage is to put on protective clothing, including clear glasses and a respirator (so you don’t breathe in the toxic fumes) and apply a special wheel paint primer. The main job of a paint primer is to help the paint adhere evenly and it also prevents rust. You will normally need up to three coats of primer and you’ll need to allow for drying time in between. Every primer will be different so you’ll need to read the individual instructions on the packaging to check times and application advice.

After the primer has dried and you’ve inspected your wheels to check for marks or streaks, you’re now ready for the paint. Depending on which paint spray you have chosen, the application methods may differ slightly. Generally speaking, car wheel paint needs to be added to the wheels the same way as the primer; in several coats.

The best way to apply any spray paint is to always apply in light even coats. Never concentrate on just one area, move across the wheel evenly and always hold the spray at a decent distance from the surface. If you hold the spray too close, you’re going to create an uneven splodgy paint texture that is likely to run. Light even layers will give you a better end result.

Some car wheel paints require sealing after they have dried. Check to see if your does and if so, then you’ll need to apply this the same way that you applied the primer and spray with slow even layers.

Allow your wheels to dry for at least 24 hours before removing the masking tape and replacing the wheels.

You can now stand back and admire your handy work!

Sources:

  1. Paint Your Rims Cheap! – Instructables
  2. How to Paint Your Wheels – wikiHow
  3. How to Paint Car Wheels –  YourMehanic