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

As painted wheels age, they are prone to lose their beauty. When that time comes, you have to remove the old paint and re-spray them. 

But, how to remove spray paint from wheels? Easy, we have made a complete guide that will teach you how to do that in 6 simple steps. 

Except for the method, we have also made a list of tools you need, and much more. Check it out.

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 Tools Do You Need To Remove Paint From Wheels?

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 Do You Get Spray Paint Off of Alloy Wheels? 

Step 1: Remove the Wheels

Step 1: 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

Step 2: Get Rid of Dirt and Debris

Clean the wheels before moving on to the next step. They are filled with dirt and gravel; 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

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 it 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

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

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

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.

Step 1: Remove The Wheels

This is an optional step. But, it will help you get better results. Remove the wheels you want to strip the paint off, and clean them. Get rid of any dust or debris that the wheel may have. 

Step 2: Apply Paint Removal Product

Once you take the wheels off your car, you should apply paint removal on top of the wheels. Try to aim only for the aluminum and not rubber. If you can then separate the aluminum from the rubber.

After you apply the paint stripper, you have to wait. Read the product manual to know how long you should wait. For most cases, you have to wait up to 15-30 minutes or until the paint starts to bubble. 

Step 3: Wipe Off The Paint

Use an old rag to wipe off the paint. You won’t be able to remove all the paint, but try to remove at least 90% of it. Once you notice that you removed all the paint possible with a rag, then it’s time to use a brush. 

Use a brush for hard-to-reach areas, and for areas that the paint won’t go off. If it doesn’t work, then apply more paint removal to the areas where there’s still paint, wait 15-30 minutes, and then use a brush to scrape the paint off. 

Step 4: Clean The Wheel

After you remove all the paint, you have to clean the wheel. I recommend mixing water with soap and using a brush to fully clean the wheel. 

Now you can re-paint the wheel, or keep its original paint. 

Conclusion

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 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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