How To Remove Scratches From Alloy Wheels

Authored By Automobile Engineer

Scratched alloy wheels are a common problem.

Your alloy wheels can look dull with scratches, dents, and curb rash.

There are many ways in which your alloy wheels can get scratched, from small scrapes to significant dents.

You might think that once the damage is this extensive you might as well just buy new ones.

But don’t throw in the towel just yet! It is possible to repair these scratches and dents, and you will be amazed at how good they look afterward.

There are a number of different methods that you can use to remove the scratches from your wheels, as well as some preventative measures that you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Here, I will detail a few of these methods so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

How To Fix Scratched Alloy Wheels – Step By Step Process
Step 1: Inspection
Step 2: Clean Your Alloy Rims
Step 3: Apply Masking Tape
Step 4: Sand With 240-Grit Sandpaper
Step 5: Fill In Scratches And Dents With Putty Knife
Step 6: Sand The Putty
Step 7: Put On Safety Gears
Step 8: Cover Your Wheel With Tape And Kraft Paper
Step 9: Apply A Metal Alloy Primer
Step 10: Apply Metallic Spray paint
Step 11: Apply Spray Lacquer

How To Remove Scratches From Alloy Wheels

Commonly used methods for removing scratches from alloy rims are:

  • Cleaning
  • Buffing
  • Sanding
  • Polishing



Before you start repairing the scratches, you should take a close look at them to determine the level of damage.

Scratches can vary significantly in size, with some only being a few millimeters long and others reaching several centimeters.

You should also inspect the wheels for dents; if the damage is extensive then you may want to consider replacing the wheels.

However, if the scratches and dents are minor, then they can be removed with a bit of effort.


Clean Your Alloy Rims

Clean Your Alloy Rims

Before you start fixing your rims, make sure they’re dry and clean.

Clean it with a mild cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

Wash the rims with paint thinner again after the first wash.

Soak a cloth in paint thinner and rub it all over the rims.

Ideally, it will break down dust, dirt, and debris.

Keep an eye out for dents and scratches while cleaning the wheels.

Dry your rims with a lint-free cloth or let them air dry.


Apply Masking Tape

Apply Masking Tape

To prevent any further damage, apply masking tape to the surrounding area of the scratched wheel.

This will help protect the alloy from any additional damage caused by sanding or polishing.


Sand With 240-Grit Sandpaper

Sand scratch and dent edges with 240-grit sandpaper.

Sand With 240-Grit Sandpaper

Rub your sandpaper gently over the damaged area until it’s smooth.

Remove the residue with a damp microfiber cloth.


Fill In Scratches And Dents With Putty Knife

Fill In Scratches And Dents With Putty Knife

Patch up scratches and dents with metal-reinforced spot putty.

Scrape a piece of putty out with a putty knife.

Spread it around with a putty knife on the damaged area.

By applying consistent pressure, every scratch and dent will be filled in.

After that, smooth the putty with your fingers.

It usually takes two hours for the putty to dry.


Sand The Putty

When the spot putty is completely dry, smooth out any raised areas with 400-grit sandpaper.

Sand The Putty

Sand the raised areas until they look level with the rest of the rim by rubbing your sandpaper back and forth over them.


Put On Safety Gears

Put On Safety Gears

Put on goggles, gloves, and a respirator before applying primer or spray paint.

Inhaling paint and primer is dangerous, so you need the right safety gear.


Cover Your Wheel With Tape And Kraft Paper

Cover Your Wheel With Tape And Kraft Paper

Use tape and kraft paper to cover the parts you aren’t painting.

Make sure only the previously damaged areas are uncovered.

You don’t have to paint the whole rim.


Apply A Metal Alloy Primer

Apply A Metal Alloy Primer

Stand about 6 inches away from the rim and spray a metal alloy primer on it.

It usually only takes one coat. Let the primer dry (it usually takes 30-60 minutes).


Apply Metallic Spray paint

Apply Metallic Spray paint

Put a base coat of silver metallic spray paint on the rims while standing 10 inches away.

Follow the instructions on the product for drying. Add 1-2 more coats if needed.


Apply Spray Lacquer

Apply Spray Lacquer

The paint lacquer will keep spray paint from flaking or scuffing.

The lacquer should be sprayed in a light mist, just like spray paint.

Depending on the lacquer, it usually takes 8-24 hours to dry.



If the scratches on your wheels are fresh, you can try using a mixture of toothpaste and water to clean them.

You can also try other abrasive cleaning products like an SOS pad.

Be careful not to press too hard with these pads though.

You don’t want to further damage the finish of your wheels.

If the scratches are stubborn and don’t seem to be going away, you may want to consider trying a stronger cleaning solution.

You can use a solvent cleaner or even an acid-based solution such as white vinegar or lemon juice.

Be careful not to use these cleaning products on painted rims.

You want to clean the alloy, not the paint.

Now add a little bit of water to your cleaning solution and apply the mixture to the scratched area.

Use a soft cloth to rub the solution into the scratch.

Keep rubbing until the scratch disappears. Then, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth.



Another common method for removing scratches from alloy wheels is buffing.

This method is similar to the polishing method described below, but with a few key differences.

First, you’ll need to use a rotary or electric buffing machine.

Next, you’ll want to use a buffing compound. You can buy this at any auto parts store.

Start by attaching your abrasive buffing pad to the machine.

Set the machine to a low speed and apply the compound to the pad. Then, move the machine over the scratch in a circular motion.

You may want to start with lighter pressure and work your way up to higher pressure as the scratch disappears.

Keep going over the scratch until it disappears completely. Finally, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth.



If you have a deep scratch on your wheel, sanding may be the best method to get rid of it.

However, don’t just grab any old piece of sandpaper. You want to use extremely fine grit sandpaper.

A grit of 1000 or higher is best. Hold the sandpaper in place on the scratch and move it in a circular motion.

Be careful not to press too hard and damage the finish of your wheel. Keep going until the scratch vanishes completely.

Then, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth. You can also try sanding the surrounding area to even out the surface of the wheel.

Once all the scratches are gone, you can polish your wheels to a high shine.



If the scratches on your wheels are small and shallow, then you can polish them out.

To do this, you will need to use a polish made specifically for wheels.

There are many different types of wheel polish out there, but they all have one thing in common: They are made with a very fine grit that will remove the scratch.

When you are polishing the wheels, it is important that you apply the polish in the direction of the wheel’s rotation.

This will help prevent the wheel from becoming distorted due to the polishing.

It is also important that you apply only a small amount of polish at a time, and that you move the polish around quickly.

Final Words

Alloy wheels are an integral part of many people’s cars.

Having them scratched can be a huge inconvenience, but don’t worry!

You can remove scratches from your alloy wheels and restore them to their original appearance with a few simple tricks.

Start by cleaning the wheels to remove any dirt or grime that may be stuck in the scratches.

Then, try buffing, sanding, or polishing to get rid of the scratches.

Once your wheels are scratch-free, you can show them off with pride.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove surface scratches from alloy wheels?

Start by cleaning your alloy wheels with a mild detergent and warm water to remove any dirt or debris. Once the wheel has been cleaned, use medium-grade sandpaper to gently rub over the affected area in circular motions until the scratch is removed. After the scratch is gone, fill in any dents or divots with putty before using a polishing compound or wax to further smooth out any uneven surfaces caused by sanding. Finally, apply a coat of wax to protect your newly polished alloy wheels from future damage.

Can you buff out scratches on aluminum alloy wheels?

Yes, it is possible to buff out scratches on aluminum alloy wheels. The process follows the same steps as removing scratches from other types of alloy wheels.

How much does it cost to fix a scratched rim?

The cost to fix a scratched rim will vary depending on the severity of the damage and the materials needed to repair it. Generally speaking, minor scratches can be fixed with supplies you may already have in your homes such as sandpaper and putty. If the scratch is more severe or if professional repainting is required, then the cost will increase accordingly. Professional alloy wheel repair services typically range from $100-$300 per wheel depending on the level of detail needed for a successful repair job. It’s best to contact a professional alloy wheel repair service for an accurate quote before starting any repairs.

Can deep scratch be buffed out of the wheel?

Yes, it is possible to buff out deep scratches on alloy wheels with the right tools and supplies.

Can I use rubbing compound to remove scratches from my alloy wheels?

Yes, you can use rubbing compounds to remove scratches from alloy wheels. Rubbing compound is typically used in tandem with sandpaper to remove scratches, dents, and other imperfections. When using rubbing compound it’s important to proceed cautiously as too much pressure may cause further damage to the wheel surface.

Don Sutton
Don Sutton has had a long and varied career in engineering, spanning four different countries. He began his apprenticeship in New Zealand at Paeroa Motors in 1965 before moving to the United States where he studied at Paeroa College before accepting a job as an engineer with Bendix/Kirby/TRW/Tristar. His work involved designing components for the automotive industry for over thirty years, including brake pads, power steering pumps, and fuel injectors. In 2005 Don left automotive design to pursue other interests but maintains an interest in all things related to automobiles. He is currently retired from engineering but continues to consult on issues relating to vehicle testing and manufacture when needed!