How to Paint the Wheels on Your Car

A shiny car with dirty or rusty wheels is a total mismatch. There are many ways to update the look of your vehicle and one of the most inexpensive ways is to paint the wheels. It’s fairly easy and you can do it at your home. All you need is some tools and items and two to three hours of your weekend evening.

How to Paint the Wheels: An Easy Way

Applying a fresh coat of paint on your wheels will cost you less than $50. The method described below will work on steel, aluminum alloy, and chrome wheels. However, it will bring the best result for the ones made of steel.

Materials Needed to Paint the Wheels

  • Jack Lifts
  • Jack Stands
  • Tire Tool
  • Soapy water
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Tire Shine Gel
  • Index Cards
  • Spray Primer
  • Spray Paint

You will need the first three items for removing the car tire. Use the jack to lift the vehicle one or two inches from the ground, remove the lug nuts, and then pull the tire off. It will be better to remove one tire at a time and finish the paint job.

car wheel cleaning
leaning the rust on the wheel should be your first step. (photo source:

The Step-by-Sep Process to Paint the Wheels

Before starting the painting, you have to prepare the wheels by cleaning off all the dirt and grease. Prepare soapy water by mixing dish soap and warm water in a 1:4 proportion and apply it with a sponge piece. Rinse with clean water after you are done.

This video will help you understand the whole process more easily.

Clean the rust

It’s natural for a steel wheel to collect rust. After cleaning the grease and dust, you should remove the rust and uneven existing paint. You can use a fine metal wire brush to do this task. You don’t need thicker bristles if the rust is not bad. Use eye, face, and ear protections because little metal pieces from the wire brush will shoot out if it hits a rough patch. If you did plasti dip for your wheel, you must take more effort to remove it completely.

It’s also possible to sand off the rust. You have to gradually use a 400, 600, 800, and 1,000-grit sandpaper and it will take a lot more time than the wire brush. Even if there’s no rust on the surface, sand it with a 600-grit sandpaper. It will make the pain last longer and resist peeling and chipping. Finish this step by using a blower to blow off all the dust from the surface.

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Clean with rubbing alcohol

Pour rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and rub the entire wheel to get it completely clean. Throw out the dirty towel and rub the rim again with a new piece. Keep doing it until the paper towel comes out without any dirt.

Spray primer

As the tire should not catch any primer or paint, you have to apply tire shine gel on the outside of the tire. Be careful that it does not touch the rim. The point of using this gel is to make it easier to wipe if you do any overspray. Now, stick the index cards between the rim and the tire in a way that no part of the tire is visible. To protect the valve stem from paint, cut a fingertip from an old glove and cover the stem.

Give a light coat for the first round. Start the second round two to three minutes later and cover the entire wheel this time. Spray from different angles to get the complete coverage. Apply the final coat two minutes later and ensure that you have covered the metal part entirely and evenly.

Spray the paint

When the primer is set, start applying the paint. Follow the previous step to apply it in three rounds with an interval for a couple of minutes in between. Remove the index card so they don’t get stuck with the paint. Let it dry for at least two hours, and you have a tire with a shiny, new wheel!