How To Remove Spray Paint From Rims – 6 Easy Steps

giorgio trovato 2KD6Z SmTQE unsplash How To Remove Spray Paint From Rims - 6 Easy Steps

It is tiring to look for the spray paint removal solvents available in the market when you do not know which wheel paint remover is the best for ‘your car wheels’. Saving you this trouble, I have everything you need to know about how to remove spray paint from rims.

You can easily remove spray paint from rims by using a spray paint remover. Start by soaking the paint stain with the remover of your choice for around 15 minutes and scrub it away with a soft brush or scraper. You can finish it off by rinsing with water or a pressure washer.

Whether changing the rims’ color or just bringing out the shine of the original material, you will need to remove the previous coat of spray paint, and here is how you can do that without causing damage to the wheels and tires.

Things To Consider

DIYs are fun,  but it is important to prepare for the process beforehand. From gathering the right tools to necessary precautionary measures, here is everything you need to know before you start working on the rims. 

What is the material of the rim?

All metal components are not created equal, and the technique that works on one type of rim might not work the same on the other. So, before collecting supplies for cleaning the wheels, check the type of rims on your tires.

You may have one of the following:

  • Steel rims
  • Aluminum rims
  • Magnesium Alloy rims
  • Chrome rims

Once you have identified the correct type, you can move on to the cleaning agents that are most suitable for removing spray paint from the rims.

How much paint needs to be removed?

Do you want to remove a few spots of spray paint that got splashed accidentally on the rims, or is the entire paint on the rim? This critical question will help you decide the tools and time needed to clean it up. 

If the whole rim needs paint removal, more liquid will be required to get it off; a small splash can be taken care of with a washcloth and just a dash of the solvent. 

Take Necessary Precautions

Some spray paint chemicals can be extremely hazardous to health. Strong volatile chemicals can affect your eyes and skin if necessary precaution isn’t taken. 

We recommend that you choose a well-ventilated area to do this process of spray paint removal and use a pair of goggles, a mask, gloves, and an apron to protect your eyes, hands, and clothes. Your health should be your first priority; even tiny drops of some of these can cause irreversible damage you would not want. 

The Supplies You Will Need To Remove Spray Paint

Here are a few essential tools and supplies you will need to get started.

  • A lug wrench and jack: You will need these tools to remove the wheels from the car. Most vehicles have a set in the trunk for emergencies.
  • A cloth. You need a rag or towel to clean the spray paint after exposing it to the cleaning agent. Make sure to use a disposable cloth, as you won’t be able to reuse it once the job is complete. 
  • Paint removing compound. Several cleaning agents on the market can help you clean spray paint from the rims. You can choose between Goo Gone, Goof off, Acetone, Paint thinner, Smart Strip, and other products to remove the stain. 
  • A brush. Some corners will be hard to reach and  will require scrubbing after you apply the paint remover. A small brush or a toothbrush should do the trick. 
  • A scraper. In some cases, the paint can be too tough to clean with just a cloth or brush. That is where a plastic scraper or sandpaper can make your job easier. Be careful with these abrasive tools, not to ruin the rims with too much pressure. 
  • A buffing tool. Sum it up with a buffing tool on top of a drill to clean tough paint spots. This is a softer alternative to abrasive tools such as sandpaper.

Pressure washer (optional). A pressure washer can help you clean up the rims quickly and thoroughly. Keep settings on moderate to low levels to avoid damaging the wheels.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Rims: 6 Steps

We have outlined the steps to remove the paint from rims but before you start the process, make sure you have the safety gear on and are working with proper ventilation. 

1. Remove the tires

Remove the tires from the car to make this job easier. You can remove the rims from tires but most paints do not affect the rubber material of tires. If you follow the time guidelines mentioned on the spray paint remover, you are good to go. To be safer, cover the sides with tape on the edges near the rim to protect the tire from any damage at all.

2. Wash the rims thoroughly

Wash out the dirt and debris from the car wheels before you apply any liquid to clean the paint off. Dirt removal is necessary from all corners and crevices for the chemical to work in a non-contaminated environment. Use any garden hose available and brush to do a proper cleaning.

3. Apply the spray paint remover

Apply the paint remover with a brush or spray it on the rims, be generous here, especially in the center where the spray paints are mostly concentrated. Leave the solvent on the surface to work. Make sure you do not leave for more than 15 minutes or the time recommended by the manufacturer. If you see a reaction happening, wait a while and smile because it’s working.

4. Clean off the paint

Bubbles will start forming minutes after you apply the paint but wait for 10 to 15 minutes.

One option could be to use a pressure washer to wash off the spray paint. It might take 2 or 3 cycles of applying paint remover and pressure washing it off, but the result is totally worth it.

The second option is to use a cloth, preferably a microfiber cloth, to rub out the paint on the rims. Use a small brush to reach hard-to-reach places.

Use sandpaper and a plastic scraper if the paint doesn’t come off easily with the cloth and toothbrush. While it’s tempting to finish the job quickly, applying too much pressure with harsh tools can damage the metallic finish on your rims. Be gentle and just use the force that is required.

5. Rinse the rims with water

Congratulations, you are in the final stretch now. Rinse the rims to ensure all the paint and paint remover are completely gone. The paint stripper can stick to the surface and cause damage to the rims in the long run. A pressure washer works best in these situations; however, thorough washing with tap water will also do the job just as well.

6. Use the buffer drill to polish the rim

After rinsing the spray paint remover, the surface of your rims might look a little rough. Once it is dry, use a buffer on a drill to clean up the rims for a more polished look.  

Congratulations! now you know how to successfully remove spray paint from rims without damaging it.

Six steps on how to remove spray paint from the rims - explained.
Steps to remove paint from rims


Will Acetone remove paint from rims?

Acetone works amazingly to remove paint from rims. It is also harmless to the metal beneath and works best for the patches that the spray paint remover could not reach. It is expensive and can smell strong as it is very volatile. 

Does WD-40 remove spray paint?

WD-40 will remove small accidental spills of spray paint from the floor, on your car or wheels. However, for a more significant project, like removing spray paint completely from rims, you should go for the proper chemicals available in the market. 

Does vinegar remove spray paint?

Vinegar can remove the paint when mixed with baking soda. If heat is used, the job becomes easier. However, we can not guarantee how this mixture will affect the surface beneath. Corrosion can occur. Therefore it is always better to use the spray paint removers fit to do this job.

Final Piece of Advice

DIYs can be exciting but also a lot of work. So, if you don’t have the time or inclination to put in the required effort, you can always take professional assistance. Now you know how to remove spray paint from rims. Removing spray paint from rims is a time-consuming process, but if you have the right tools, supplies, and solvents on hand, you can cut down the cost and time and get the job done quickly. 

If you would like to know in detail about our preferences for spray paint strippers then check out our blog on 10 best spray paint strippers for metals and know which one is the best fit for you. You can also check out the best spray paints that we have selected for metals to repaint your rims.

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