Introduction: Common Alloy Wheel Damages
Alloy wheels provide improved visual appeal and performance of your car. However, they are not as durable compared to the regular steel wheels.
Driving on rough terrains and bad roads can damage these wheels.
These alloy wheels can be cracked, distorted or fracture while taking hard impacts and shocks during being driven on bad roads.
Alloy wheels are generally more difficult to repair after getting damaged and may have to be replaced.
If the wheel is cracked at more than one places on the inside, has cracks of more than 1-inch, or is severely bent, then it cannot be repaired and has to be replaced only.
However, you can get them repaired if the damage is not heavy.
You should seek the support of professionals for repairing your damaged alloy wheels.
Depending on the nature and extent of damage, the wheel may have to be either cosmetically repaired or structurally repaired.
For the majority of the wheels up to 18 inches in diameter which needs to be repaired both structurally and cosmetically, you can expect to repair charges up to $160. You will have to spend almost $120 for only structurally repairing the wheel.
Structural and cosmetic damage repair to wheels of 20 or 21 inches diameter will cost you nearly $200.
Precautions Before Repairing Alloy Wheels
Taking the right precautions are important for refurbishing or repairing your alloy wheels. You should take the following precautions while doing so:
- You will need a spacious, well-lit, and well-ventilated space for repairing your wheels. You should ensure that you have such a working space or workshop before starting the repair work.
- You will also need proper protective gear and equipment before repairing your damaged wheels.
- Though it is not mandatory, you should remove the tires from your alloy wheels before refurbishing or repairing it. This makes the repairing work much easier compared to working on wheels with tires on.
- You should focus on spraying and sanding the insides of the wheels also for getting a uniform and
Guide for Repairing Alloy Wheels
You should follow the following steps in sequence for repairing your damaged alloy wheels:
Assess the Nature and Extent of Damage
The first step is to assess the nature and extent of damage caused to the wheels.
If you are using chrome alloy wheels, and they are dirty or rusted, then you may need a good cleaning agent for getting the job done.
If they are scratched, then you may have to clean them first and then do touch up with chrome paint.
It is important to ascertain and clearly understand the type of damage on your wheels before you start the repair work.
Once you have understood the nature and type of damage on the wheels, you can start by cleaning them.
Before you start the cleaning process, you must take off the lead weights with the help of a flat screwdriver. You need to thoroughly clean the wheel during this step.
It is important to note that you will have to get your wheels rebalanced after this process before putting them back on your car.
If your wheels have undergone heavy curbing damage, then you will have to get rid of the burring by using a file. You should take proper care during the filing process.
You should ensure that you do not remove the curbing completely or it can lead to completely changing the shape of the wheel which will need more repairing later.
During the filing process, you should only focus on identifying and removing the bits of metal on the wheels due to dents, gouging, and corrosion.
In order for the paint to stick and get a good quality finishing, the entire surface of your alloy wheels needs to be scraped and roughened.
You should generally aim for a matte finish for which you should use 600 grit sandpaper along with the adequate amount of water and detergent to prevent the sandpaper from clogging in the wheel.
This process should be done in all areas of the wheel and specifically on the bare metal where there are signs of corrosion.
Generally, rims of the wheel are affected the most and should be paid attention to. If you are planning to work on the inside of the wheel also, then ensure that the dirt there to sand away the dirt on those parts too.
The sanding process is then followed by filling. Before you start filling, you should make sure that the wheels are thoroughly cleaned and completely dry.
You should also check the curbing marks to ensure that they are free from any type of dirt, grime, etc. This will lead to better adhesion.
There are many different types of fillers available in the market which you can use based on the type of alloy wheels you are using.
You should follow the instructions on the filler and allow it to sit for at least 24 hours before proceeding for the next round of sanding.
Second Round of Sanding
After the filler is dry, you need to go for the second round of sanding.
The purpose of sanding in this step is to match the filler to the shape of the rim. You can use sandpaper of 400 grit.
You can start using rougher sandpaper initially. It is important to use plenty of water and be careful while sanding.
You should not be in a hurry and take your time to ensure that sanding is done properly.
You can check on the sanding area to verify if it is consistent with the rest of the alloy wheel.
In case if you have used inadequate filler or have sanded the area excessively, then you should repeat the process of applying filler again and letting it dry before going for the second round of sanding.
If your alloy wheel has really small holes, then you should use spray fillers for repairing it.
Spray filling is done to repair and address the minor imperfections and damages to the wheel which have been left behind from sanding the filer. It can help you to get a complete evenness on your wheels.
You should check and ensure that the wheels are completely cleaned and dry before doing spray filling. You should then follow the instructions on spray filler.
Generally, you should use three coats of spray filler and provide a gap of at least 15 minutes between two sprays. After the final coat is applied, your rim should look even and consist of one color.
If there are still any minute imperfections left, they can be sanded out. However, the sanding should be done only after the spray filler has been left on for a minimum of 24 hours.
Another Sanding Round
After the spray filler has been applied and left on for 24 hours, another round of sanding can be done to remove the minute imperfections on your wheels.
This step focuses on sanding the spray filler flat and sanding back to the metal in most areas.
This round of sanding needs to be done very carefully without any undue localized pressure as it will cause dips that will come up later.
If the imperfections still remain, then you must use more spray filler and let it dry and then start the sanding process again.
The next step in repairing the wheel is priming. You should ensure that your alloy wheel is totally clean and dry before starting the priming process.
You should choose a primer which bears the closest resemblance to your wheel’s finished color.
You must follow the instructions on the product for getting the best end results. You should do three coats of primer and allow a minimum of 15 minutes before two subsequent coatings.
You should start by spraying the inside of the wheel, followed by the face and then going to the outermost edge of the rim.
The key for getting a good final finishing is to aim for even coverage of primer even in the most difficult to reach places.
After coating the wheel with primer, allow it to dry for 24 hours.
The sanding will help you to achieve a consistent and clean base for painting your alloy wheels for getting the best finishing. During this step, sandpaper with 800 grit will be required along with plenty of water.
You must be careful to sand out the entire wheel thoroughly as any rough patches on it will show up later in the finishing and look bad.
You can start sanding the wheel gently and make sure to reach the difficult areas. During this step, you must be careful not to scrape the paint though.
Once the sanding on primer is completed, you can go for the color coating of your wheels.
You must clean the wheel and ensure that it is totally dry before beginning color coating. It is important to follow the instructions on the product for best results.
You should do three color coatings with a gap of 15 minutes between each coating.
You should start by spraying on the inside of the wheel, then the face and finally on the outer edges of the rim. In this step, focus on only getting a matt finish and that the wheel looks the same even color.
After you have color coated the wheel, allow it to dry for 24 hours.
You must not wash the wheels or sand the color coating as it will degrade the final finishing.
You can dust clean the wheel using a dryer but take care not to touch it as it can transfer dirt or grease to it.
You can then use lacquer by following the instructions on the can.
Start applying the lacquer coating with the first coating being lighter and the two subsequent coatings heavier than the first coating. Allow an interval of 15 minutes between two coatings.
Final Round of Sanding
You will need to do a final round of sanding after applying the lacquer.
You should allow the paint to dry completely before sanding.
Paint may take a fortnight for drying so you need to be patient.
You will need sandpaper with 1500 grit for this final round of sanding along with plenty of water and detergent. Sanding in this stage is done to remove the orange peel if any, during lacquer application.
You should do the sanding finely and not press hard at all as it will damage the final finishing.
You should also note that this final round of sanding should be done only if the finishing is dull after lacquer application. If you have got a good enough finishing, then there is no need for this step.
The next step after the final sanding is polishing the alloy wheel.
You can use any good quality alloy wheel polish available in the market.
You can use a soft microfiber cloth to apply the polish evenly on the wheel till it merges with it.
Once the polish is applied, you should buff it with a clean and dry soft cloth. You should keep buffing until you get the gloss and finishing of your choice.
Different type of paints may need a different amount of polishing. Darker paints may need more polishing and buffing to get the glossy and attractive final finishing.
The final step in repairing your damaged alloy wheel is waxing them.
You can use any good car body wax for this purpose. You should be careful to follow the instructions on the wax bottle and rub a generous amount of wax on the wheel’s surface.
You should allow the wax to be left on for some time on the wheel before buffing. This has to be followed by buffing of the wheel by using a soft microfiber cloth.
Your wheels will feel glossy and slippery like new which will improve the visual appeal of the car also.
Waxing also protects the alloy wheels from corrosion and damage from debris on the road.