How to Fix Scratch on Rims

Rims are made of metal, but they are very destructible. Scratches on rims are inevitable since rims are vulnerable to many road hazards. Scratches make the rim look dull and old; they harm the car’s aesthetic appeal and may cause a problem for the tire. If the damage is mild, you can learn to repair it yourself and keep your rims looking new and good.

A few scratches on the rims are not severe, and you can have them fixed easily with a few basic supplies. However, a severely damaged tire is dangerous and might lead to accidents causing serious injuries; you may want to take it to an auto body shop.

What Causes Scratch On the Wheels?

1. Potholes

Hitting potholes or even minor depression on the road while driving is a sure way of getting your rims scratched. Be mindful of your surroundings and watch out for potholes and depressions, especially while driving on bad roads. Alternatively, completely avoid bad roads.

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Here are some tips to help you drive safely over potholes;

Slow down

If you cannot switch lanes, then slow down before hitting a pothole to minimize the damages. Braking over a pothole directly can cause massive damages to your wheels.

Brace for impact

Hold the steering wheel firmly as you slow down to minimize the chances of losing control. Scan the area to determine the best way through should you lose control.

2. Brake dust

Brake dust coats the wheels over time and burns into the rim’s surface, causing dark-colored wheels. Scrapping the brake dust off the wheels leaves scratches on the rim.

To avoid this, clean your wheels carefully with something appropriate.

Steel wool often scratches the clear coat off the rims, and for those that don’t have the clear coat, it scratches the rim’s metal. It should not be used to clean as it causes more damage.

Acid-based cleaners should be avoided completely. Acid burns tough brake dust off the wheels but eats away the clear coat. Water and air eventually get under the clear coat’s edges, resulting in corrosion on the metal, causing damage that can’t be polished or washed away.

Avoid using rough or sharp objects while scrubbing off the dirt. Do not use cleaners on wheels if they are still hot from being driven.

3. Curb Damage

Bumping into curbs will grind the paint and leave scratches on the rim. Be careful when parking against curbs. Perfect your parallel parking skills, making sure to leave enough space between the curbs and your car’s wheels. Adjust your mirrors exactly how they should be to see the curb clearly.

What can you possibly do to prevent scratches on the rim while parallel parking?

Install Ultrasonic Parking Sensors

This will help you see the exact distance between other objects and your car. It has an audible alarm to warn you in case your car comes too close to the curb. However, installing the sensors involves drilling holes into the car’s body, which might lower the value of the car.

Get Rim Blades

These are very easy to install and to remove. Using rim savers and rim blades (view on Amazon) are great ways of protecting your rims against curbs.

Curb Feelers

The curb feelers scrape the curbs while parallel parking to alert the driver of the curbs’ distance from your car

4. Driving On Flat Tires

Tires that are too low for the road’s roughness or flat tires won’t sustain the impact of bouncing; something hard is most likely to hit the rims. This will definitely leave scratches on the rim. As the weather changes, the temperature changes. Heat increases the tire’s inflation level while cold decreases it—checkout for over inflation when the temperature increases to avoid blowing out. You should also consider using big standard profile tires on roads that are not in ideal condition as low profile tires are only ideal on good roads.

5. Corrosion and Salted Weather Roads

Corrosive environmental factors such as salt can destroy your rims, making them uneven and causing the tire seal breakage. Corroded metal will make every upcoming pothole and curb dangerous as it might crack the wheel. Look out for signs of corrosion before it weakens your rims and make them uneven.

6. Driving on Broken Pavements

Avoid under-maintained roads, parking lots, and areas that are being ripped for repaving. They create a ledge that impacts your rims hard enough to create a dent.

You could invest in wheel rim protectors for added protection, which is placed on the rims directly.

Here is a list of items you will need to fix the scratch on your rim;

  • Wheel lacquer or paint
  • High gloss clear lacquer
  • Primer
  • Putty
  • Paint thinner
  • Masking paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Lint-free washcloth
  • Soap
  • Sponge
  • Water

You don’t need to buy a new set of rims in case of scratches as fixing it will be much easier and cheaper. It is easy to mess up while fixing the scratch on your rim and end up with more damage. Be cautious and carefully follow the steps for the best results.

Here is a step by step guide on fixing a scratch on a rim.

Cleaning the Wheels

Step 1: Look For The Damages On Your Rim

Before you start fixing, you’ll need to thoroughly inspect your rims and note the scratches and dents that you might need to fix later. This is to ensure that all the scratches are taken care of. Assess the scratches, if they are minor, you won’t need to take off the wheel, but if the scratches are severe, you will have to take off the wheel.

Step 2: Clean the Wheel

Wash the wheel with soap or wheel cleaner and a soft rag or sponge to remove dirt and grease. If your tires are dirty, clean them entirely before fixing the damage.

Step 3: Use Paint Thinner to Clean

Dip a lint-free cloth into the paint thinner and coat the rim with it. Apply pressure on the cloth and scrub the scratched area with it. This helps in getting rid of the debris and residual dust on the rim. Wash it until the dirt comes completely off.

As a safety precaution, remember to wear a respirator and gloves while handling paint thinner.

Step 4: Dry the Wheels

Use a lint-free cloth to dry the wheel before fixing the damage or let the rim air- dry. A dry wheel ensures that the repairs stick.

Filling and Sanding the damage

Step 1: Cover With Masking Tape

Put masking tape (view on Amazon) around scratched areas. If the scratches are at the edge of the rim, tuck the tape underneath the rim to avoid damaging the tire.

Step 2: Sand Your Scratches

Using a 400 grit sandpaper, sand the scratched area until there are slight grooves on the untapped area. Rub back and forth, with the sandpaper, across the scratched surface to smoothen the rough edges. When the scratches feel smooth, you can wipe off the dust from the sandpaper with a dry cloth.

Step 3: Apply Putty

Using a putty knife, lift a small amount of putty from the container. Apply pressure while applying putty to the scratched area with a putty knife. This helps fill in any scratch as fully possible. You can as well use your fingers to smoothen it over the scratched area.

Ensure that the putty is kept within the scratched surface as applying it to a non-damaged surface can create noticeable bumps.

Step 4: Let the Putty Dry

The putty takes approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours to dry. The time it takes depends on the size of the damage you are repairing and the brand of the putty that you are using.

Remember to carefully read the putty’s instructions to know exactly how long it will take to dry.

Step 5: Sand the Putty for a Smoother Finish

Once the putty is dry, use 600 grit sandpapers to smoothen out protruding areas caused by the putty. Rub the sandpaper on it until the protruding areas are well leveled and have a smooth feeling. Repeat this step until you achieve the desired result.

How to Prevent Scratched Rims

Most vehicle owners understand that a vehicle must be inspected and serviced from time to time, as referred to as routine maintenance. For those who don’t, the likelihood of problems that cause a scratched rim is extremely high. If the vehicle is not inspected routinely, small problems can escalate to major problems that are much more expensive to fix. This is also true for vehicles which sit for long periods of time.

If you want to avoid tire problems or other issues and save $100s of dollars that you’ll spend at the auto repair shop, you’ll need to service your vehicle often – you can use our mechanic-rated Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual to do this. It’s basically what mechanics use to go through your vehicle to check if there are any problems that need fixing. As soon as they notice the most minor problem, they’ll ask you to fork out some money even though it’s a problem you can fix yourself in minutes – the manual will teach you how to maintain your vehicle every few thousand miles and it’ll teach you how to fix minor problems that mechanics will ask you to pay for; saving you money in the long run.

A lot of our readers have the Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual printed on their garage wall and 92% of them haven’t visited the auto repair shop in the last year because they know what to do to avoid problems. All it takes is giving your vehicle a little attention every few thousand miles and you’ll never spend money at the workshop again.

Applying Primer and Paint

Step 1: Mask Your Wheel

Before applying primer and paint, be sure to cover the tire, wheel, and other nearby parts that might be exposed to the paint while painting to prevent paint on unwanted areas.

The metallic spray can be very tough to remove; therefore, you’ll need to protect your wheel as much as possible. Only leave the scratched parts uncovered.

Step 2: Take Safety Precautions

Put on gloves, goggles, and a respirator before priming and painting. Spray paints cause skin, eye, and even lung irritation. If you start feeling lightheaded and nauseated, immediately leave the area and call for help

Remember to paint in a well-ventilated area.

Step 3: Spray the Primer Over the Scratched Area

Primer helps the paint look more natural and allows it to stick to the rim better. A single coat is enough. Stand 6 – 8 inches away from your rim as you spray the scratched areas.

Step 4: Let the Primer Dry

The primer takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour to dry, depending on the brand. Read and follow the primer’s instructions carefully to determine the duration that you’ll need to let it dry. Wait for the coat of primer to dry before you paint completely.

Step 5: Apply a Base Coat of Metallic Spray Paint

Hold the paint 25- 30cm away from your rim and paint directly on the scratched area with a sweeping motion. Choose a color that closely matches the silver rim.

Consider testing your spray paint color on cardboard before using it on your rim.

Step 6: Let the Paint Dry

Let the paint dry as instructed. Avoid touching the paint so that it remains smooth.

Step 7: Apply Additional Coats

After your base coat dries, apply additional coats until you get the desired color. Mostly 2- 3 coats are required to achieve a natural look. Let the coats dry before applying the next. Be careful not to touch the coats in between.

Step 8: Apply a Spray Lacquer

A spray lacquer seals the paint job and keeps the paint from flaking away and scuffing. Spray the lacquer in a light mist then let it dry. Drying depends on the lacquer, but it takes approximately 8-24 hours to dry.

Step 9: Remove the Masks

Remove all the masking tape and masking paper.

To maintain your automobile, look out for structural damages and fix them to avoid further complications. Restore their condition and keep them looking good. Fixing the scratches is possible without going to the store and spending heavily on repairs. With the correct items and tools, you can do it yourself.