Scratches or dents can make your car’s tires look ugly and worse than they are. Because, sometimes, a little care and affection about them can make your car look really good. Think about it; after all, they are the shoes in the car. Also, if the damage is slight, you can repair the tires yourself. Although if you want a better finish than just left the factory, it is best to go to a specialist workshop.
But suppose you are a handyman and want to do it on your own. Rubbing on the sidewalks when parking, dirt accumulated and embedded from the brake pads or a badly caught curb. All these things end up deteriorating the condition of the tires.
And no, it is not always necessary to change the tire set. If they have received a strong blow, there may be a good option or repair it correctly. Because alloy wheels not only fulfill a visual function, they are crucial for maintaining vehicle safety.
It is also important to take into account what kind of tire we have in our hands, because there are different types and, each car at the end belongs to its father and mother, and not all of us have the same wheels mounted on the car:
- Aluminum alloy wheels: the most common in cars since the entry of the 21st century. They are made from an aluminum alloy and do not corrode like other metals. However, it is a relatively sensitive material to bumps and scratches, and the mixture of water and salt makes its appearance worse.
- Steel wheels: it is the most robust and economical solution. If they are bent, they can usually be repaired, of course, always determined by a professional. However, as far as aspect is concerned, they oxidize. The problem becomes less visible with the use of hubcaps, but they will never have the aesthetics of alloy wheels.
- Chrome wheels: it is very common in cars of American origin. They attract a lot of attention and see from afar, but their repair (by sandblasting or repainting) is usually quite expensive, even while buying a new chrome tire.
- Plastic coated wheels: it is similar to the previous ones but significantly lighter and noticeably cheaper to make for the manufacturer. As with most plastics, the repair is quite difficult. So, either the wheel is replaced, or an attempt made to replace the plastic layer.
And now, to the mess. Let’s see step by step what we must do to start the repair session of our tires:
1. Tire damage inspection
It is essential to analyze the tires inspecting it thoroughly. That is, see if there is visible damage, such as dents, cracks, scratches, or corrosion. It is also important to notice if the tire has bumps or damage to the flank, heel, and shoulder of the tire. Once the possible defects have evaluated, it can decide whether to repair or replace them. If the damages are superficial, it will be better to opt for the first option. Otherwise, you will have to scratch your pocket on new or certified tires.
Buying a second-hand tire may be a worse remedy than the disease. The tire may be equally damaged, and we will not realize until the tire is mounted. Ruptures and cracks with a depth of between one and two millimeters is an indication that it is a good time to recycle the tire. And it is not turkey mucus, the safety of the car could be greatly affected if they did not repair well or replaced by ones in perfect condition.
2. Prepare the tire
Although it seems obvious, disassemble the wheel of the car. It is not essential to separate the tire from the tire and be very careful not to lose the balancing weights (those small rectangular pieces that look like sticks on the edges of the tire). Use a tire cleaner and a cloth (preferably microfiber). Clean the edges and all dirt that not especially adhere to the surface. The toughest recesses and dirt will need a hard hairbrush and a scourer.
If there is excess dust from the brake pads, a ferric decontaminant will be necessary. Solvents also help remove residual dust. Do not forget to put pressure on the tire, which will not bite you. As a safety measure, it is advisable to wear gloves and a mask, since it is a toxic and very corrosive element. After performing these steps, make sure that the metal surface is completely dry before beginning damage repair.
3. Tire damage repair
Cover the tire with adhesive tape, if you do not want the tire to be filled with dirt and paint later. It determines where the scratches, scratches, and other damages located, although, as a general rule, most will be on the edge of the circumference. Once this finished, it is time to start sanding.
It is important to do it concave and progressive. Of course, be cautious when passing the sandpaper/polisher on the surface of the tire. Here the rule of “the more, the better” is not fulfilled, since the more hand involved, the harder it will be to unify this visual aspect of the whole. To soften the rough edges, use the more to less method. That is, from fat sandpaper (from grain 80) to fine (from grain 120-240). Rub on the damage until they feel uniform with the rest of the surface. Do not forget to clean the sandpaper dust with a dry cloth.
Unfortunately, not all scratches and dents will leave with sanding. The most notorious will need a specific filler polyester filler. Apply it to the damaged area and spread it with a spatula. Isolate the nearby areas and try to shape the putty also with your fingers before putting it on. Its application in flat and undamaged areas can end up generating unsightly bumps.
Once this operation is finished and once completely dry (it can take several minutes to a couple of hours, according to the manufacturer), it is sanded again with a dry 400 grit paper. This fine sandpaper will help to achieve a smooth surface, eliminating the highest areas of the remaining putty. Rub back and forth until the entire surface looks – and feels – completely uniform.
4. Primer and paint on the tire
You have to spray the tire with a primer so that the paint is properly fixed and looks more natural. Spray it carefully at a distance of about 15-20 centimeters from the edge and with sweeping movements. A single layer of primer should be enough. Let the wheel dry for 30 minutes at an hour, as the putty will depend on the manufacturer. Never spray the paint before it has dried completely.
We are almost at the end, the time to paint. It is convenient to use the color closest to the original. There may always be some detail in the edges that denote the color with the tire left the factory. Paint with spray or gun, never with another methodology. Similar to the primer, place about 25-30 centimeters (a tad further) and spray the paint with a sweeping motion. After the first layer has dried (30 to 60 minutes), apply two or three more layers to achieve a more than a decent result.
Finally, apply a spray lacquer to seal the paint job. This result will prevent the spray paint from scratching or peeling off the surface. The lacquer takes a little longer to dry, about eight to 24 hours. Meanwhile, you can take the opportunity to clean everything that seen behind the wheel (brake calipers, wheel arches, shock absorber, etc.) with a cloth dipped in solvent and a bucket of water. The effort will be worth it.