How to Strip Aluminum Wheels

by Robert Russell
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Aluminum wheels are protected with clear coat or with paint. Over time the protective coating or paint can become damaged by dirt, grime, and road debris. Little nicks and scratches make the wheels look old and worn. In order to repair the wheels, it is necessary to completely strip off the clear coat or paint. Once the wheels are stripped, and the minor nicks and scratches are sanded out, the wheels are ready to be repainted or sprayed with a clear coat.

Step 1

Protect the tires or remove the tires from the wheels. Applying a chemical stripper to the wheel is a necessary step in stripping the clear coat or paint from an aluminum wheel. The best strategy is to have a professional tire shop remove the tires from the wheels. The second alternative is to cover the wheels with newspapers and masking tape. If you choose the second option, stripping the wheels will be more time-consuming because it is necessary to work more cautiously and slowly with the stripper. If the stripper drips on the newspaper it needs to be wiped off immediately.

Step 2

Wash the wheels with a mild detergent and water. Scrub the wheels was a rag or abrasive pad to remove dirt, debris and grime. Rinse the wheels with clean water and dry them with a lint-free towel.

Step 3

Spray the wheels with a chemical stripper. Work on one wheel at a time. Spray the wheels with the stripper. The stripper will immediately begin to bubble, but allow it to penetrate for ten or fifteen minutes.

Step 4

Scrub off the paint or top coating with a wire brush and plastic paint scraper. Use fine steel wool to get into the nooks and crannies.

Step 5

Spray the wheels with chemical stripper again. Wipe the wheels with mineral spirits and steel wool. Rinse the wheels with clean water and dry them with a lint-free towel.

Step 6

Sand nicks and scratches with 320 grit sandpaper. Lightly go over the wheels with fine steel wool to remove the marks from the sandpaper.

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