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The rims of a car are subjected to a severe test. After a few years, they can be faded and show signs of rust. In this case, why not repaint them?

Text and photos Claudie Petitjean

Practical advice

If you want to paint your rims in the original shade, you will need to know its reference. The color of the body is often referenced on a plate fixed in the vehicle (see instructions for use). That of the rims is not there: it is to ask the dealer of the mark.
Hardener mixed with paint is available in three versions: high speed or fast (for air drying only), slow to paint large areas. Accelerated grip is suitable for small areas and avoids dripping.

Whatever is total or partial, the restoration of a car can rarely ignore the treatment of wheels. Depending on the degree of finish desired, two methods are possible: with or without disassembly of the tire... The first solution is used especially when the rim is slightly damaged by rust and requires only a veil of paint to revive the color.

Quick method...

In this case, keep the tire in place but carefully degrease both sides of the rim with a detergent and water. Frequently soiled by the brake wear powder, the inner face can be brushed energetically, then cleaned with White-spirit, before being cleaned with detergent and, finally, rinsed thoroughly with a jet of water. Let dry completely.
● To make it easier to paint, sand the surfaces of the rim superficially to dry with 150 grit sandpaper. Then mask the tire with newspaper sheets and a flexible, extensible adhesive tape that will fix them by carefully following edge of the rim.

● Place a cloth soaked in cellulosic thinner on the metal, then apply the spray paint keeping it about 20 cm from the surface and describing a continuous circular motion. It is recommended to make a first covering veil and let "pull" the painting a few minutes. Then continue the passes by diluting the paint a little more so as to have a bright and taut application.
● Without a spray gun or compressor, use an aerosol can. But the result is less good.

... or a more complete renovation?

The metal is more rusty. It is then preferable to disassemble the tire and treat the entire rim. For a tubeless tire, cut the valve at the base. Remove rust and old paint with mechanical scrubbing or sandblasting to bare metal.
● Apply a 1-component or 2-component (hardener) rust remover to the gun. The adhesion is better and the anti-corrosive power strengthened. When the primer is taken to heart the next day, sand with sandpaper 400 or 600. Rinse carefully and dry with compressed air. Place the rim on a clean tarpaulin to avoid dust. She is ready to be painted.
● The application conditions of the paint are the same in both cases. Gravity gun, equipped with a 1.4 mm nozzle, pressure 4 to 4.5 bar. Acrylic lacquer paint with direct gloss. The two-component paint is prepared in the following proportions: 2 vol. of paint for 1 vol. hardener and 10% diluent. Allow 30-40 minutes. drying at 20° C. Replace a new valve before refitting the tire, while avoiding injury to the rim edge with the tire levers.

Rim in good condition: sand metal

Rim in good condition: sand metal

This rim is in good condition, the few spots of rust on the edge (or bead) can be scraped with a knife. The tire stays in place. The surface of the metal is sanded dry with a 150 grit abrasive.

Clean the rim with thinner

Clean the rim with thinner

Clean the rim with the thinner. Hide the tire by the edge of the bead of stretch tape that needs to be stretched before pressing it onto the tire. The other edge of the ribbon adheres to the newspapers placed edge to edge.

lacquer

lacquer

Apply the lacquer with a paint gun, about 20 cm from the rim. Describe a circular motion with a full and supple wrist gesture. Apply in several passes without overloading.

Rusted rim: disassemble

Rusted rim: disassemble

The second method involves removing the tire. After deflating, a little dishwashing liquid introduced between the tire bead and the rim edge facilitates disassembly. Help yourself with a tire changer.

Strip and revive corroded parts

Strip and revive corroded parts

It is especially the inner edges of the rim and the valve passage that suffer from corrosion. Mounted on a drill, this flat abrasive nylon brush removes and corrodes corroded parts.

Sandblast to eliminate rust flakes

Sandblast to eliminate rust flakes

If you have sandblasting equipment, even simple (large compressor, special gun and fine sand), you are armed to completely eliminate flakes of rust. The metal is restored to new condition.

Protect against corrosion

Protect against corrosion

Stripped just in rusted areas, the rim is treated with an anti-corrosive primer which, after drying, will be sanded with water to 400 paper. The lacquer is applied as in the previous case (photo 3).


Video Instruction: How to Paint the Wheels on your Car