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 Old 11-06-2011, 06:21 PM   #1
 
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Default DIY Wheel Refinishing

I just refinished some RX8 wheels (besides clear coating them, still have to do that) so I figured I'd share the steps to refinishing them and the results for anyone contemplating tackling this job. I'm by no means a professional refinisher, in fact this is the first time I've ever refinished wheels beyond simply sanding and painting. I'm very happy with the results so I thought I'd share my process. I've done a little at a time over the past 2 1/2 months. Having a newborn in the house has limited my car hobby time, but I wasn't in a rush to get them done, so taking my time allowed me to get what I consider great results.

Here's what they started out as - John Deer yellow. Why someone painted them this color is beyond me, but to each their own. Because of the color they sat on craigslist for weeks and I stole the set for $90. If you can find painted wheels or wheels that have a beat up finish or a lot of curb rash, this is an excellent way to get wheels cheap and customize them to your particular taste.



Step 1.
Spray the wheels liberally with paint stripper. This stuff is pretty brutal so make sure you wear thick rubber gloves, a mask of some sort and some kind of safety glasses. Allow the stripper to work for about 10 minutes. Once you see the paint bubbling up it's time to move to step 2.

* NOTE: I was not keeping the tires since they were old and I planned on getting new tires anyway, so I did not mask them off. If you are planning on keeping your tires, make sure to mask off the tires to ensure no stripper gets on the rubber. This stuff is powerful and might eat through the rubber.





Step 2.

Time to start scraping. Use a flat paint scraper and work in sections. Don't worry about every little bit since you'll be spraying another round of stripper again.

* NOTE: I did the fronts and backs because there was tons of yellow overspray on the backs, but if you just want to do the fronts skip the backs since it's doubling your work time.







Step 3. Repeat Step 2 until most of the paint and clear coat is off the wheels. At this point I had the tires dismounted and disposed of. They were pretty shot and I was planning on getting new tires anyway.

Step 4. Test spray your color of choice. First spray just a small spot of primer, allow it to dry, then spray a light coat of your color choice. I did this now as I wanted to make 100% sure I was happy with my choice before I got to the painting step. That way if I needed to get a different color I had plenty of time and didn't feel rushed. I loved the way the test area looked, so I stuck with my paint choice.



Step 5. Grab a seat and start sanding. Start with 220 grit and work your way to 400 or 500 wet/dry grit. Pay special attention to the nooks and crannies that will test your patience, but it'll be worth the effort once you have them completely void of all paint and clear coat. To make it easy to work on the wheels I used two 5 gallon paint buckets, one to hold the wheel and one to sit on, allowing me to rotate the wheel easily while working on it.



Step 6. Let's address the curb rash. For the light scrapes and scratches, simpley use an assortment of files to get those out. Pay attention to the contour of the area you're working on not to flatten it out.





For the rash that's missing large areas of metal, for now just smooth them out with a file but don't go crazy trying to blend them in or anything. You'll be filling them in with some metal filler later on.







Step 7. Wash the wheels with water, Comet sink cleaner and some gray steel wool pads. Again pay attention to the little nooks and crannies and make sure you're down to bare metal with zero paint or clear coat remaining on the wheels.





Lets see how much these puppies weight in the raw form. I have to say not too shabby for cast 18x8 OEM wheels!





Step 8. Spray the wheels with primer. There's no particular reason I used different color primer for the front and back, it's just what I had at home and then bought at the store. Make sure to get good coverage with two to three coats to the front and back (only do the backs if you stripped them).





Step 9. Fill in the curb rash areas with metal filler. I just bought a small tube of the stuff (Bondo branded) and used rubber gloves to spread it over the areas. Apply liberally as you'll be sanding the areas down to blend in with the surrounding areas. Some larger missing chunks may take two applications.



Step 10. Sand the filler smooth to the surrounding contours. I can't stress enough to take your time and don't over-sand. Start lightly with 220 grit to get the caked up areas off, then move to either 400 or 500 wet/dry and follow the countours of the areas around the repairs. Use your fingers to feel the areas over and over until it feels like it's flowing from edge to edge. The repair should look like this when it's smoothed out.





Step 11. Respray the areas you repaired with primer so the entire wheels is covered with primer and no metal/filler is showing. Do a couple light coats verses one heavy coat as this will be the base for your paint to sit on, so any drips or heavy splatter with show under the paint layer.

Step 12. Time to paint! I used the same two 5 gallon paint buckets to set up a stand to give me a good angle on the face of the wheel (if you're doing the backs as well, spray them first as the over-spray with get onto some of the front and you can cover that with the front spray in the final step). Just like with the curb rash repair, take your time with this step. It's very easy to get drips and splatters if you're trying to lay down one heavy layer instead of multiple thinner layers. Pay attention to how you put the wheel on the stand. Spray a light layer, then rotate the wheel 180° and spray another light layer. Rotate the wheel another 90°, spray a light layer then rotate the wheel 180° again and another light layer. Repeat this step another time. So basically you're getting a total of 8 light layers of paint which should be more than enough to cover the wheel completely and have a nice even spray.







Step 12. Clear coat the wheels. Again, if you did the backs as well don't forget to clear those like the fronts. Make sure to allow enough time for the paint to dry before clearing, unless the paint instructions say to clear in a certain amount of time after spraying the color.

I hope this DIY helps anyone out that's considering refinishing either their current wheels or some wheels they plan on buying. Total amount of money spent on these wheels including purchase price is approximately $220.
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 Old 11-06-2011, 06:36 PM   #2
 
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Great write up..... Dam you make it seem real easy, I might have to try this to fix some of my curb rash. Where did you purchase the filler?
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 Old 11-06-2011, 06:39 PM   #3
 
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nice man. This will help me alot. Thanks.
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 Old 11-06-2011, 06:42 PM   #4
 
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Originally Posted by Sid3wayS View Post
Great write up..... Dam you make it seem real easy, I might have to try this to fix some of my curb rash. Where did you purchase the filler?
Thanks. It was easy, just takes some time. I think I got the filler at PepBoys, but you can find it at any autoparts store I'm sure.

Originally Posted by blackstar View Post
nice man. This will help me alot. Thanks.
Glad I could help.

Last edited by SuperTrooper169; 11-06-2011 at 06:42 PM. Reason: MSF Database - Automerged Doublepost
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 Old 11-06-2011, 06:47 PM   #5
 
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found a set of rx8's on cl for 450 im gonna wait and see if they come down.
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 Old 11-06-2011, 06:51 PM   #6
 
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Very nice and good find btw.
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 Old 11-06-2011, 07:12 PM   #7
 
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You are good my friend, stay thirsty.
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 Old 11-06-2011, 07:17 PM   #8
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...nice job... Great find.

You do know the (bondo) "metal filler" will eventually cave, right? (because it is not metal).

One careless tire change & peekaboo rash. Still, very thorough (and slick) paintwork.
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 Old 11-07-2011, 08:59 AM   #9
 
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Originally Posted by MS3go View Post
...nice job... Great find.

You do know the (bondo) "metal filler" will eventually cave, right? (because it is not metal).

One careless tire change & peekaboo rash. Still, very thorough (and slick) paintwork.
Well according to the packaging it dries to a metal-like hardness (Bondo/3M Plastic Metal), so for my sake I hope you're wrong. It's imposible to feel the difference between the aluminum and the filler now that they're painted. If I had used regular Bondo body filler I agree, they might get damaged when tires were being mounted, but this stuff is like JB Weld since it contains a lot of metal in it.

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 Old 11-07-2011, 10:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SuperTrooper169 View Post
Well according to the packaging it dries to a metal-like hardness (Bondo/3M Plastic Metal), so for my sake I hope you're wrong. It's imposible to feel the difference between the aluminum and the filler now that they're painted. If I had used regular Bondo body filler I agree, they might get damaged when tires were being mounted, but this stuff is like JB Weld since it contains a lot of metal in it.
...on your side... Just speaking from my "wheel resoration" experience with "aluminum-fill" (bondo for wheels).

Had a professional do a file/sand & fill in the curb rash on my S4 wheels. 2nd tire change the DT guys raked over the repair, trashing it.

Hope it works for you and remains durable for a very long time.
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 Old 12-04-2011, 01:01 PM   #11
 
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awesome write up i will be doin this to the stockers for a nice winter set up
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 Old 12-04-2011, 01:19 PM   #12
 
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i did this but with my ms6 stockers. Used duplicolor wheel paint and clear.

Another option is you dont need to strip them, i just lightly sanded them until the clear coat was off. The base coat works as a great primer. Then used some scotch brite red. Washed wheel, then used wax/grease remover with paper towels. Blew dry, painted as per can. Really hard to do since spoke pattern. I would have loved some rx8 wheels.

i always wanted to try a unique color like skates
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 Old 10-23-2012, 09:37 PM   #13
 
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Hey SuperTrooper,

What color silver did you use? I bought a set of RX8 rims and they need to be repainted and the color you picked is bang on to what I'm looking for.

Thanks!!
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 Old 10-23-2012, 10:03 PM   #14
 
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@Bianco - see how i did that? @screenname lets people know you are talking to them. otherwise, there's very litte chance @SuperTrooper169 will be checking a thread where the last post was almost a year ago..
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 Old 10-24-2012, 08:11 AM   #15
 
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Thanks, I thought bringing this thread back TTT, that the OP would seen the thread as he is still active on the board. If he doesn't reply, I'll send him a PM.
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 Old 10-25-2012, 08:53 AM   #16
 
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Originally Posted by Bianco View Post
Hey SuperTrooper,

What color silver did you use? I bought a set of RX8 rims and they need to be repainted and the color you picked is bang on to what I'm looking for.

Thanks!!
I can't remember the exact part number, but I believe it was Duplicolor Nissan Precision Gray. It's in the small cans that's supposed to be an exact OEM match. Got mine from PepBoys. Hope that helps.
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 Old 10-25-2012, 04:58 PM   #17
 
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I'm sad I missed this thread. Great DIY. I did a similar job on my 350Z wheels that I had on my 300zx. It's a lot of work, but well worth it in the end.
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 Old 10-27-2012, 05:15 PM   #18
 
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great write up man...
i was refinishing some of my wheels.. then gave up.. & bought something else..heh

good thing you have patience.
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 Old 10-28-2012, 05:07 PM   #19
 
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Originally Posted by SuperTrooper169 View Post
I can't remember the exact part number, but I believe it was Duplicolor Nissan Precision Gray. It's in the small cans that's supposed to be an exact OEM match. Got mine from PepBoys. Hope that helps.
Thank you sir!!

After a bit of searching I found another thread on AcuraZine forum where you stated what paint you used, plus I saw the additional pics you posted up.

Thanks again!!
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 Old 11-02-2012, 03:32 PM   #20
 
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Nice write-up the only thing I would add is a cleaning step to get any grease or oil off the wheels prior to primer, and to use self etching primer for the first coat on bare metal to help it bond better.
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 Old 11-10-2012, 08:50 AM   #21
 
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Can we make this a STICKY
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 Old 03-11-2013, 04:27 PM   #22
 
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Thanks for this, just need to google how to remove valve stems now.

What's with RX8 wheels and getting molested with these hideous colors... this is what I have to work with today...
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