Your scuffed aluminum wheel rim can be restored with simple curb rash repair techniques. Follow the 5 steps below to prepare, sand, and refinish your wheel rims to eliminate unsightly curb rash.
Step 1 – Find Out if the Rim Has a Clear Protective Coating
Sand the damaged spot on the rim with a coarse-grained sandpaper, about 220-grit. If the dust generated is white rather than gray, your wheel rim has a clear coating which must be removed to reach the curb rash. If your wheel rims are not coated, proceed to Step 3.
Step 2 – Remove the Clear Coating on the Entire Lip of the Rim
You need to remove the clear coat all the way around the rim so the refinished spot will end up the same color and texture as the rest of the rim. Buff the wheel all the way around with 220-grit sandpaper using firm strokes. Once the dust you are grinding turns gray instead of white, the clear coating has been removed.
Step 3 – Smooth Out the Curb Rash Spot
Using 80-grit sandpaper and working up to 220, go over the abraded spot on the wheel rim to smooth out the scratches. Once you have cleared up the most obvious scratches and gouges, use a feathering motion with 400-grit sandpaper to just 1/2-inch beyond the rash to blend in the damaged area with the rest of the wheel rim. Employ steady but moderate pressure when sanding with this paper to level any remaining ridges. Use angular strokes outward from the center of the rash. Wipe built-up dust off the rim with a soft cloth every few minutes.
Step 4 – Refine the Surface of the Repaired Spot
Choose a very fine grit, such as 2000, for the next step. Use light pressure and a circular motion with the dry sandpaper over the entire spot, focusing on blending in the edges and smoothing out the surface texture. This will take longer than the previous step, but patience will give the best results. Next, dampen the 2000-grit sandpaper and work in circles over the spot for 5 minutes. Finish up with 2 minutes of polishing with 2500-grit paper, 1 minute with the paper dry, and 1 minute of wet sanding. Wipe over the spot with a damp soft cloth, then a dry cloth to remove all metal dust.
Step 5 – Apply Aluminum Polish
Scoop out a generous amount of polish with the soft cloth and work it deeply into the sanded area. Go just 1/8-inch beyond the sanding to blend the polish into the existing coating on the rim. Exert plenty of pressure while rubbing in the polish, so that your cloth turns black. Refold the cloth and buff with a clean section until the sanded area gleams as brightly as the rest of the wheel rim.
Always use eye and respiratory protection when sanding, and avoid getting metal polish on any part of the tire while refinishing.