Okay guys, so time has come around for me to refinish my wheels. I’ve been looking to do this for a while as my wheels were totally curbed and damaged from the previous owner (he never learned how to parallel park in DC apparently). However, since im a broke college kid, I decided to do it myself, which was well worth it . So as you can see the damage is really bad on 1 wheel, and moderately bad on the other. I will only be showing you the repair of two wheels because of time constraints.
I will try and post large picture so you can see the full detail of the damage and progress of refinishing. Whenever I was looking at other DIY’s on how to do it, their pictures suck and it was really frustrating . I have to give credit to Acejam2k From IWSTI Forums, His DIY inspired me to refinish my own wheels, and create another detailed DIY for us Fanatics
As for paint color, I choose gunmetal/graphite just b/c i thought it would look nice against my orient blue and Im pretty sure it will. I was seriously considering painting it green, yellow, orange or some other wacky color, but decided against it….(mainly b/c my car is too stock to pull of that look). You can choose w/e color you want obviously.
First let’s start off with what you need:
• Two cans of Filler primer (I used duplicolor “FP101 Grey Filler,” its sandable)
• Two cans of Duplicolor High performance wheel coating (“WP10 Graphite”)
• Two cans of Duplicolor Truck, Van & SUV Clear top coat. (“T125 clear top coat”)
• Tack cloth (you will use this to wipe off excess dust)
• Bondo Spot putty (comes with hardening cream)
• 220 Grit sand paper (does NOT need to be wet or dry)
• 400 Grit sand paper (Wet or dry)
• 1500 Grit sand paper (Wet or dry)
• Blue Painters Tape
• Latex gloves
• Respirator mask
• Pack of Index cards (Very useful but not required)
• Wheel Cleaner of your choice (I bought a non diluted simple green bottle)
• A lot of time
All of this stuff should cost you roughly around $50.
Here’s the damaged wheel’s:
This one is not that bad, but it has some damage the camera didn’t capture
This one was seriously f’ed up, the curb rashed this thing endured was straight up crazy
Notice the difference in damage between the wheels
Note: I wore gloves on every single step of this process, with the exception of rinsing the wheels, I strongly recommend this when you are sanding and dealing with bondo.
Step 1: Clean
You first want to get the wheels very clean, I used a 1:1 dilution of simple green to clean my wheels, this is a fairly aggressive cleaner so I wouldn’t recommend it on wheels that you will not be refinishing. I used a wheel cleaning brush I had laying around to really scrub in the caked on brake dust. I got bored and started to clean the wheels inner barrel as well (which had around 5 years of built of brake dust on it). After cleaning the wheels thoroughly and removing as much brake dust as you can we can move onto step 2.
After: This was about 30 minutes of scrubbing.
I love Simple Green
Step 2: Sand
Okay now comes sanding, but first you want to tape off the wall of the tire with your painters tape, making sure to get the tape under the wheel lip. This step prevents you from sanding on your tire, and it also makes the clean up job easier. You want to sand the whole wheel down with 220 grit paper, try to get the surface even. In this step I was also able to remove most of the pitted brake dust that the simple green wouldn’t fix. In areas where there is severe curb damage, you want to fold the paper and get in the crevices so that the bondo can adhere well. After you are satisfied with the sanding, it should look something like this:
They are both sanded, left one was not cleaned, right one was.
Close up shot of cleaned and sanded wheel:
Dirty sanded wheel closeup:
Note: you can see all the sanding dust, we will get to this later.
Step 3: Clean (again)
Time to clean the wheels again! Yay! /sarcasm. At this point your hands will probably be falling off from sanding (hint, that means you should spend a lot of time on step 2, Preparation is the key in this DIY). Okay, seriously though, clean the wheel thoroughly with your simple green solution, and rinse all of the solution off. Time to use your tack cloth to pick up all that sanding dust that was not removed from washing (this is so that the bondo can properly adhere to the damaged areas of the wheel). Instructions on the tack cloth say to move in a circular motion with very little to no pressure, I would wear gloves during this process as it can get fairly sticky/tacky on your hands.
This was after it was fully cleaned, its now ready for the next step.
Step 4: Bondo time
So now we are at the step that will take you the longest. I spent a good 3-4 hours on steps 4-5 alone.for each wheel. Safety is key here, so you need to wear that respirator mask no, bondo is not the best stuff to breathe in; I would not do this part without the mask. Now, I would re-tape the wheel because the tape that was on before might not hold up well after you washed it, make sure you get the tape well under the wheel. I used a flat head screw driver to push it down more and make it flat against the tire (where tire meets wheel lip)What you are going to want to do now is apply the bondo and hardener cream to the damaged areas of your wheel. I applied this liberally as this was my first time ever using bondo. Now the instructions on bondo say to mix the hardener cream and bondo together and then apply to the wheel, I didn’t do that. But rather I applied the bondo to the damaged area, and put hardener cream on top of it and mixed them together with my finger (covered by a glove of course). Here is a picture which probably better describes what I did:
Now let the Bondo dry for approximately 30 min, I let mine dry for 2 hours (I took a nice little break during this time)
Tip: If there is severe damage on the lip, you may want to put a little extra bondo over the lip to sort of reconstruct that area with bondo, the damage shown below is what im talking about, you have to sort of make up the contour as you go along
Tip 2: Make sure the bondo is a uniform light redish color, if there is any plain white spots you should add more hardener cream to it. If the white spots dry, they will be very mushy and weak, not suitable for sanding. (don’t ask me how I know )
Step 5: Sanding the Bondo
Now that your bondo is fully dry, its time to pull out the 220 grit sand paper again. You want to sand the bondo so that it is flush with the contour of the wheel (make sure your painters tape is still sticking onto the tire). I used my fingers to get a smooth finish rather than using a small wooden block because when I used the block it would sand down way to far. Now this step is probably the hardest step because you have to find the contour of the wheel to make it fully flush and clean. Since my curb rash essentially destroyed the figure of the lip, I had to pretty much do reconstruction surgery on the lip, and try my best to make it look flush with the other part of the lip. I was trying to make these wheels look as perfect as possible, but with all the sanding and reconstruction of the wheel with bondo, I just got tired and lived with some minor defects which you will see later on. Here is how your wheel should look after you have sanded the bondo down:
This wheel was the one that wasn’t too damaged, so not much bondo was required:
Same wheel, better shot:
On the other hand, the crazy damaged wheel looked like this after sanding:
Anything that has bondo on it should represent some sort of previous scratch or curb damage.
Note: Your arms may start to feel like jello now, I would take a break here and call it a day.
Step 6: Cleaning the wheel (yet again)
Now that your bondo is fully sanded down, and is 100% the way you want it, no damage is showing, and it looks pretty good, you want to clean it again. Follow Step 3 to do this process.
Step 7: Prime the wheel
Now comes the fun part! After all that hard work, your wheels probably look like ass, but applying some primer will change all that. I used the duplicolor filler primer for this step. Pull out your index cards and line them around the wheel as shown:
Yea I know the wheel is primed already, i just forgot to take a pic be4, ill take another later.
This is really handy as it takes about two minutes to put the index cards around the wheel, and it prevents any paint from hitting the tire.
You want to make sure you are in a well ventilated area for this step, and you should wear your respirator mask as well (make sure you are not near anything that might get over spray on it, like a car or something valuable to you). Also, tape off anything you do not want to get painted, such as your “M” Sticker, as well as your air pressure thingy (i forgot the name..heh)
Shake the can for a good minute vigorously and spray on the first coat. This should be a very light coat and most likely will not cover the whole wheel. To paint correctly you should start painting before the wheel, go across the wheel, and then go off the wheel again, almost like in a swinging motion. This is to ensure that you get an even coat of paint on all areas of the wheel. I applied 4 coats of primer to each wheel, letting it dry 15-20 minutes between each coat. Again, remember to apply light coats rather than heavy coats, this will prevent any running of the paint, creating a drippy look. It should look something like this after you are done:
Step 8: Wet sanding your primed wheel(s)
Time to tape off your tires again, and pull out your 400 grit wet or dry sand paper. Let the sand paper soak in a bath of water for at least 30 minutes (ideally an hour), and wet the wheel very liberally. Now start to sand down the primer to a smooth finish removing any small defects you see along the way (don’t be aggressive in this step, you are mainly just smoothing down the primer, you don’t want to undo all the work you just did). Remember, you want to keep the wheel very wet during this step, I just kept the hose next to me and sprayed the wheel almost constantly wherever I was sanding. The 400 grit will leave a fairly smooth finish, but that’s not good enough for me. I did the same exact process except this time I used the 1500 grit wet or dry sand paper to get a real nice smooth finish for the paint. After you have sanded the primed wheel down, it should be very smooth and almost ready for paint.
I tried to show the difference between sanded and un-sanded, but my camera couldn’t focus that well. If you can see it, the right side is un-sanded and the left side is sanded.
Step 9: Cleaning, I promise, this is the last time!
Keeping all the dust off will ensure a perfect finish. Follow Step 3 to clean the wheel one last time, preparing it for painting and the clear coat.
Step 10: Painting
I chose duplicolor WP102 Graphics paint for this step. However, if you want a perfect match, I suggest buying Wurths Alloy silver lacquer paint, found here: http://www.autopia-carcare.com/wus-892181.html
Note: This is the fairly expensive (compared to duplicolor), but provides a near perfect match to the oem paint. I would not buy their clear coat though, I read around and many people said it was not that great quality.
Back to the diy. Use the same process as you did when you primed the wheel (i.e. using the note cards, doing the sweep on, sweep off processes for painting). I also applied 4 LIGHT coats of paint to each wheel, again waiting between 15-20 minutes in between each coat. After the wheels were fully painted, I let them dry overnight before applying the clear coat. Your wheel should look something like this after 4 coats of paint:
NOTE: For some reason, this paint didn’t come out to a smooth finish, if felt as if it was primer (very rough and visibly not smooth). This was really aggravating to me so I decided I was going to wet sand it with 2000 grit. Well, before I started to sand, I used the tack cloth to any dust off, and well…the tack cloth seemed like it was removing paint so I decided against wet sanding and went straight to clear coat.
Step 11: Applying the clear coat
Pull out our tack cloth and wipe the wheel down to remove and superficial dust on the wheel which may have gotten on during the night. Again, put the index cards around the wheel, use the same painting process to apply the clear coat. I applied 4 coats per wheel, making sure to get it very even, and in every single crevice. However, I did not apply a heavy coats, it was still light. After you are satisfied with your clear coat, let it dry for an hour, and admire your fully refinished wheel.
Be proud of yourself, you just turned an ugly wheel into something that looks brand spanking new! (in my case, it almost looks new;heh)
Heres how my wheel looked after refinishing:
This was the part that was previously damaged, now you cant tell at all!
Here is a picture of the finished wheel compared to how it started at the beginning! Its like night and day!!
Total Cost: $55
Total Time: ~ 20 Hours (For all 4 wheels), this was over a period of about a month; I did about half of a step a day or maybe 1 step every other day. I got 19 credits of classes so this was not my priority.
Total Satisfaction: Priceless!
Writeup by: alwaysbored786