How to Remove Spray Paint from Wheels: Alloy & Aluminum Wheels

As painted wheels age, they are prone to lose their beauty. The paint that once looked shiny and elegant now looks not less than a disaster. It compromises the complete look of the vehicle. When you look at the rims, you’ll notice this difference a lot more.

So, getting them retouched is the best option. But what happens when the best alternative turns into a nightmare?

Sometimes you forget to remove the previous paint and just spray on the next coat hoping it will hide the blemishes.

Go on, try that if you want. But if you want to avoid running in circles, sit back and read.

Before you do anything else, it’s important to remove the spray paint.

How do I do that?

Well, that’s what we’re here for. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about removing spray paint from wheels. It is equally helpful for beginners and DIYers who are about to spray paint their wheels for the first time.

What should you know about removing paint from wheels?

The problem with spray paint is it bonds well with plastic. So, if you make a mistake there’s no easy way out. You must either abandon the project or restart. For the latter, you’ll need a few tools and a lot of time. Most importantly, you’ll need the same colored spray paint as the area you’re retouching. Or if you are going for a new look, don’t worry about it.

Using a spray can is simple and doesn’t involve a lot of elbow grease. If you want to spruce up your rims and give them a customized look, there’s no better way. However, the application is straightforward, but the removal process is not.

So, we are warning you now–spraying paint can be fun but if you get it wrong, removing it is an extremely tedious process. It is possible, yes. But you’ll need the right tools and follow the steps given here carefully.

What are the supplies you need to remove spray paint?

You can’t just rub off spray paint. It needs to be treated carefully and with the help of specific tools. Before we move on to the removal process in detail, make sure you have the following items handy. It will save you a lot of time once you start removing spray paint from the wheels.

  • Paint Stripper– It acts like a thinner allowing you to cut through the paint quicker and is much easier to wipe off. However, be careful to not leave it on the tires for too long or it can seriously damage it.
  • Rags or Towels– You’ll need a couple of these to wipe away the paint and the remover you’ll apply on the wheel. Having a few rags can be extremely helpful if things get messy for you. Even if you don’t use them, it is also a good idea to have extra towels/rags on hand.
  • A Toothbrush– It will serve the same purpose as a rag, but it will help you cover smaller areas.
  • Sandpaper– Sandpaper is used to buff the surface to remove paint and get a smooth base for application. It is a cheaper alternative and easy to use for DIYers.
  • Drill with Brush Attachment (optional)– A drill will be used for the same purpose as sandpaper. The only difference is it will buff the surface much more quickly. It is recommended to own a drill with multiple attachments if you’re a professional. DIYers can skip it and simply use sandpaper.
  • Water-Water will be used to rinse the surface to degrease and clean it properly before applying the new layer of paint.
  • Pressure Washer (optional)- This is only for experienced professionals. Beginners are advised to refrain from using it because if used improperly it can damage the rim of your wheels severely. It is mostly needed if you’re having a hard time getting some of the paint off.
  • Simple toolbox- Any kit with the basic mechanical tools will suffice, there’s no need to go out of your way and get a new toolkit.

You’ll get all these things at any hardware store near you or you could order them online. Once you get hold of the required products, move on to removing spray paint as mentioned in the sections below.

Now, the process to remove paint from alloy wheels and aluminum wheels may slightly vary. We’ve provided step-by-step instructions to remove spray paint from both the types of wheels. With that said, let’s get started.

How to Remove Spray Paint from Alloy Wheels? 

Step1: Remove the Wheels

Although this step is optional, we highly recommend it. It is easier to strip off the paint when the tires are removed. Removing them also ensures you don’t damage the car in any way.

Step 2: Get Rid of Dirt and Debris

Clean the wheels before moving on to the next step. They are filled with dirt and gravels; these can interrupt your removal process. Make sure the surface is nice and clean before applying the paint stripper.

Step 3: Spray the Paint Stripper

Once the wheel is free of any dirt and grime, spray on a layer of paint stripper. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes or until the paint starts to bubble. If you’re applying it only on the rims, use it without worrying about the quantity. But for the wheel, use it carefully and don’t leave on for a long time.

Note- Apply the stripper only to areas where you want to remove paint from.

Step 4: Wipe Off the Paint

After the paint starts bubbling, wipe it off with the rag or towels we asked you to keep handy. The original paint will now come off easily and any dried paint will chip off on its own. Be sure to remove the product from the tires first and then move on to the rims. It can wear out the tires amazingly fast as we previously mentioned.

To work in the smaller areas, use a toothbrush. It takes a lot of effort to ensure you’ve cleaned every nook and cranny properly.

Step 5: Rinse with Water

Now clean the surface with some water and remove any residual chemicals from it. Before moving on, you’ll need to make sure that all the original paint and paint remover is thoroughly rinsed.

Got all the paint off? Great, let’s move on.

If not, remove any remaining paint and move on to the last step.

Step 6: Buff the Alloy Wheels

Before buffing the wheel’s surface, make sure all the paint, lacquer, and remover are off it. Buff the wheel(s) with sandpaper or a drill with buffing attachment to achieve a polished finish.

How to Remove Spray Paint from Aluminum Wheels? 

For aluminum wheels, the process to remove spray paint is like when removing paint from alloy wheels. However, the key difference is in step 5. Instead of using sandpaper or a drill follow the step given below.

Step 5: Scrape Off Excess Paint

Once you’ve removed the paint and paint remover with a cloth and rinsed the surface with water, check for any remnants. If there’s any paint left, you can scrape it off with a plastic scraper and a wire brush. Repeat this until the paint is completely removed from the wheels.


Removing spray paint from wheels is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. With the right tools, you can cut the time and effort significantly.

Following the instructions carefully is key to a perfect removal. If you leave on the paint striper on the tire for too long, you may face serious consequences.

And if you use a pressure washer without prior knowledge, you can damage the tire permanently. So, before you take on this DIY project think about it. If you make a mistake, you’ll end up in more trouble than you asked for.

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