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Old 05-06-2019, 10:30 PM   #1
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Painting rims

I have 17" sport wheels on my 15 se, but they do not have the painted interiors. My car is magnetic metallic color, and the wheels just look too bright. I'm getting all thr windows tinted to 20% this week, and really like the look of the painted interior pocket wheels. They are identical to mine except for the painted pockets. Has anyone had any success with painting these wheels? Any tips for DIY? Plastidip doesn't work well in my experience unless you do thr whole wheel. Otherwise you get that not smooth edge when you pull the masking tape off. The nice thing is it's removable if you screw up.

2012 Focus SE 5MT, ingot silver metallic. Window tint, focal wheels, lots of chrome bits.
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Old 05-07-2019, 12:00 PM   #2
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Plastidip is terrible if you don't do the whole thing.

First off, don't cheap out on masking tape. Good tape is expensive, but worth it.

I've done the reliefs in wheels before. You can get fairly decent rattle-can paints made for wheels.

1. Make sure that your wheels aren't clear-coated. Most aluminum wheels are, and that will need to be removed to do a good job, or at least sanded in the areas that you're applying paint. Make sure you get all the way to the edges. Personally, I would just strip/sand the whole wheel at this point. Remove any wheel weights, you're going to need to get your tires re-balanced afterwards.

2. Clean everything. I use a lot of brake cleaner, since it gets rid of almost everything and doesn't leave residue. It shouldn't be too hard on the rubber, but try to avoid getting too much on the tires. Use a soft nylon brush (A toothbrush also works) to get everything out of the crevices and detail points. Also some wheels are rough cast in parts, and that will need to be cleaned carefully. Any foreign material will stand out in the finished work.

3. Mask carefully. I like to mask a little further than the edge, and cut back to the mask line with an x-acto blade. I got them from hobby stores, and don't be afraid to change out the blades for new ones BEFORE it starts to leave a fuzzy edge. Tape is actually kind of hard on those blades. Cover all of the area that you don't want to paint with masking paper. Only the areas that you want to paint should be visible, and hopefully not touched with your bare hands. The oils from your fingers will affect the paint. Pay extra attention to making sure that the tape is stuck tight at the edges.

4. If you are using a solid colour, a layer of primer is a good idea, and will better show you the condition of your surface preparation. I'd use a single coat of low-build primer, since you don't want it to show at the edge, after all. This is probably NOT required for paint forumlated specifically for wheels. Read your paint directions.

5. Apply your paint according to directions. Avoid runs, they'll look terrible. A few light coats will do a better job than a heavy one.

6. Remove all of your masking paper and tape. Check your paint edges carefully. In the first 24 hours, you can fix minor imperfections on the edges with your x-acto knife, but they have to be very minor. You did carefully stick down the masking tape at the edges, right?

Clean everything again, and apply a layer of clear coat, masking off the tires (The clear coat will come off the tires anyway, but it'll look awful in the meantime.) Get stuff that is formulated for wheels. This is going to keep the wheel looking good after getting stripped down, and make it so much easier to keep clean. It's also going to protect the paint edge from chipping and peeling in the car wash. I skipped this step the first time I did this, and regretted it heavily after two years. The rims looked fantastic for the first summer, and okay the next summer, but after that they looked sad and shabby, where they would have been better off left as stock, so I bought another set and did it all again... Then bought aftermarket rims that summer anyway. Go figure.

Doing a partial paint job like this takes time and effort, it's not easy.
2012 Focus Titanium Hatchback
121,000 km, all stock

1990 Toyota Supra turbo
I think the cams are still stock...
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