How to remove clear coat from aluminum wheels

Most of us go our entire lives never knowing anyone who’s owned a car with aluminum wheels. But, if you’ve just bought a new set of aluminum alloy rims, the odds are good that you’ve now got a completely clear coated set of wheels. This blog will explain how to remove clear coat from aluminum wheels.

Start with the wheel

  • Clean it thoroughly, then apply a coat of wax or paint sealant to create a barrier between the wheel and paint stripper. You can also buy a wheel cleaner designed specifically for aluminum wheels, but most household cleaners should do the job.
  • Apply the stripper in thin layers and let it sit for five minutes before removing. If you have an air compressor, use it to dry the wheel after you’ve removed the stripper; otherwise, wipe off as much of it as possible with a clean cloth before letting it air dry overnight.
  • If you’re using an abrasive polish on your aluminum wheels, first apply a coat of wax or paint sealant over any bare metal spots where they’ll be rubbing against each other while driving. Then polish away!

Choose your wheel stripper

When you have a vehicle that has aluminum wheels, you want to take care of them. Aluminum is a metal that can easily be scratched and dented, so when you’re taking care of your wheels, you need to make sure that they are clean and free from any kind of chemical.

There are many different methods that people use when they want to remove their clear coat from their aluminum rims, but here are some tips on how to get the job done right:

You can choose from many different types of aluminum wheel strippers on the market today like Mothers Back-2-Black or 3M Scotchgard Wheel Coating Remover Kit. These products have been tested by professionals and have proven effective time and time again.

Start by scuffing the wheel

Scuffing is the process of removing the clear coat from your wheels. It allows you to have a clean surface to work with. You can use a scuff pad, or even sandpaper if you don’t have one.

  • Start by scuffing the wheel with a scuff pad or sandpaper. You want to get rid of all the clear coat so that it’s easier to paint.
  • Next, mix equal parts acetone and mineral spirits in an airtight container. This mixture will be used as your solvent to clean off any remaining residue from the wheel and prep it for painting.
  • After you’ve mixed up your solvent, dip a rag into it and rub it over both sides of your wheel until all the residue has come off completely.

Move on to the wheel stripper

Step 1: Remove the wheels from your car and place them in a safe environment.

Step 2: Apply masking tape to the surrounding areas of the wheel, making sure not to block off any of the lug nuts or center caps.

Step 3: Use a paintbrush or rag to apply chemical stripper to the aluminum wheel. Let it soak for 10 minutes or longer, if necessary, then scrub it with a brush or rag.

Step 4: Rinse off all chemicals and dry the wheel thoroughly with a clean towel.

Peel a wheel

  1. Clean the wheel with a solution of dish soap and water. This will remove any residue left by the wax.
  2. Make sure the wheel is dry before applying the stripper.
  3. Apply a light coat of stripper to the wheel and let it sit for 10 minutes. Make sure you apply enough stripper so that it soaks into all parts of the wheel, but not so much that it drips or runs down the sides of the wheel.
  4. Scrub off all remaining paint with a soft bristle brush or toothbrush.
  5. Rinse off any remaining stripper with warm water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth

End with a clean wheel

I have had a couple of occasions where I have needed to remove clear coat from my aluminum wheels and each time I have used a product called Citrus Solvent and it works great. I just spray it on the wheel and let it sit for about 5 minutes, then use a rag to wipe off the excess.

Be sure to wear gloves when doing this, because it will be very acidic. After you are done cleaning, rinse off the wheel with water, dry it off and give it a good waxing, or use whatever coating you like best.

Aluminum wheels can be cleaned with certain chemicals and tools

The clear coat on aluminum wheels can be removed with special chemicals and tools. The process takes several steps and requires a lot of patience.

Step 1: Clean the Wheel

Clean the wheel with a damp rag and mild soap or cleaner to remove dirt and grime. Rinse with water, then dry with a clean rag before continuing to remove the clear coat.

Step 2 : Remove Clear Coat With Chemical Stripper

The chemical stripper works best on wheels that have been stripped of their finish by sandblasting or other means. Use caution when using chemical strippers; follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly so you do not damage the wheel beyond repair.

Step 3: Sand Smooth With Sandpaper

Sandpaper is used to smooth out any rough areas on the surface of the wheel after removing the clear coat. Start with coarse sandpaper, then move to medium and fine grits until no further polishing is required.


The process of removing the clear coat from aluminum wheels is quite easy to do. You will find a lot of products in the market that claims to remove clear coat from aluminum wheels but most are not effective. Unlike these products, these four steps will effectively remove clear coat from aluminum wheels without damaging it. This technique is used by professionals and you too can follow these tips to make your damaged wheels look new.