Painting Your Wheels

Written by: sakana

     So, I finally got my stuff together and decided to redo my stock wheels.

     Before starting, get supplies. I used:

     Blurry picture of some of the stuff:

     If you're like most 91-94 Tercel owners, your stock wheels probably are chipped and kind of gross looking. Mine were.

     Remove the wheel balancing weights. This was pretty easy for me with a screwdriver. Painting over them is just ghetto, k?

     Clean your wheels thoroughly. I used a bucket full of soapy water, a sponge, a scotchbrite pad, and a stiff plastic bristled brush. Removing caked on brake dust is really difficult. So, I used 00-grade steel wool (wet), and scrubbed it all of. It takes paint off too, but who cares? Here are the result (after several hours of scrubbing).

     Scuff with 320 grit sandpaper. To make the paint stick, we need to scuff. Take this opportunity to sand out rust, dings, and flaking paint.

     Wipe down the wheels with acetone (or similar) and a clean, lint-free rag.

     Mask off the edges and the valve stem. In my case, I was replacing tires anyways, so I wasn't very thorough.

     Wipe down with acetone again before painting. The less stuff on the wheels before painting, the better.

     Paint. Make sure you have at least an hour or two to devote to painting as it all needs to go on within an hour. If you're using the paint I used, you'll be putting down 2 light layers and one thicker layer, each 10 minutes apart. READ THE CAN!! Make sure the paint is thoroughly mixed. It helps if the can is not cold (leaving it in the sun helps). Be as even as you can. Here are the 3 coats I did (left to right). One, black still showing through. Two, most black covered up. Three, thick, all covered up but not running or sagging.

     Clear coat. The wheel paint I used requires all coats of paint to go on within 1 hour. So, I waited 15 minutes and applied clear. It was the same thing, 3 coats, first 2 light and the last one heavier. Here is the final result (still drying).

     Let it dry overnight. Unmask the wheels. Then admire your wheel's sexy-ness.

     Mount 'em up. Torque the lug nuts to 76 ft-lbs, and enjoy your clean, shiny wheels!

     That's it. It took me probably 6 hours of labor over the course of 2 days (not including time to get new tires mounted). I'm sure you could do it all in a day if you were ambitious enough, or less obsessive than I.

     Thanks for reading, and good luck!