How to Remove Wheel Rim Coating

by William Zane

There are a few types of coatings that can be found on wheels, two of the most common of which are a clear coat over the metal itself or over paint. Some wheels only have a layer of paint and no clear coat. If your wheels are looking worse for wear or you simply want to change the finish, stripping the coating off of a wheel is relatively straightforward.

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheels, then raise the vehicle with a jack and place it securely on jack stands. Remove the wheels.

Clean the wheels with soap and water. You can use dish detergent or something like Simple Green that has been diluted with ten parts water.

Apply paint stripper to the surface that you want to strip. Paint stripper comes in a spray can, and also in jelly form. If it is spray form, then simply spray it on the surface. If it is in jelly form, then brush it on with a paint brush in one direction.

Allow the stripper to soak into the paint for ten or 15 minutes. Heavier coatings may take longer.

Wipe off the clear coat or paint when it starts to bubble. Wear rubber gloves, as paint stripper is quite caustic and will burn your skin. For persistent areas, use a wire brush or steel wool to remove the coating. It may take several passes with the paint stripper to remove all of the paint and the primer underneath the paint.

Rinse the wheels off thoroughly with a hose and dry them with a clean, dry towel. Repaint the wheels in the desired color.


  • close While sandblasting will work to strip wheels, this is not the most desirable method, since it can pit the finish of wheels that are made from soft metals.

Items you will need

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.