By Tony Tracy
Valuable tips on how to polish aluminum wheels on your car, van, SUV, truck or even your motorcycle or streetbike.
Having the proper tools and knowing the proper procedures on how to polish alloy wheels is essential in doing it right the first time.
The polishing procedure is quite similar to polishing any type of object for the initial time. The coarseness of the surface of the object will help you decide what sandpaper grit you need for your alloy wheels.
Once you begin this process you will quickly realize that a lot of time needs to be invested as well as plenty of perseverance and attention to detail to make sure the job is done right the first time around. Jumping ahead or taking shortcuts will definitely cause unnecessary headaches later on so make sure you pay attention and learn how to polish wheels correctly.
Let us begin with the proper materials that you will need to polish your wheels:
1) Firstly, you will need to purchase sandpaper grits ranging from 400 to 2,000 depending on how badly damaged or eroded your aluminum wheels are. You can easily purchase these at your local hardware store for a cheap price.
As an additional option, you can also buy a sanding block which may help you in the initial few steps but is not completely necessary. You can easily substitute the sanding block with the highest grit sandpaper at 2,000. This will require a lot of manual labour and elbow grease on your part but it will definitely be worth it.
2) Secondly, find some medium to large sized plastic bowls, or buckets, to hold water for when you are performing wet sanding. Since they will most likely be really dirty after you are done, it is best that you do not use your favourite salad or food bowl.
3) Thirdly, you will need a good quality polishing agent to buff up your alloy or aluminum wheel to get that newly bought shine. There are many brands on the market today so choose the one that you are most familiar with.
4) Fourthly, it is also good to include soap and water which should be used to clean the wheels between each step of the polishing procedure. Even though not many people will include this step, it helps to make sure that you do no obtain dirt scratches in the latter steps where you will be using the higher grit sandpaper.
5) Lastly, have some soft non-abrasive or microfiber towels or cloths handy for applying the polish and the finishing touches to your alloy wheels.
Now we're ready to start the process on how to polish wheels properly:
1) Firstly, let us begin with your aluminum wheels. There are many types of damages that can happen to them. This ranges from scraping them along the edge of a sidewalk when parallel parking to erosion from salting on the roads in cities that have harsh winter weather.
2) Start the polishing process by using the lowest number grit sandpaper which should be 400. You will notice that after a short while of sanding, particles of the wheel should be evident as it starts to come off.
3) After you have completed the initial light sanding with the lower grit, take your soap and water and thoroughly wash the wheel making sure that it is clean and free of debris before beginning the next step of sanding with a higher grit of 600.
4) After this step, you can wash the wheel again and move on to the next highest grit of 800.
5) Repeat the same process for the next few steps until you get to the highest grit sandpaper you have which should be 2,000. At this point in time you should see that the surface of the metal will begin to look shinier. Do a visual inspection to make sure that the surface is smooth and there aren't any uneven dips or bumps. If you do find any, simply pick up the same grit of sandpaper that you just used and correct those faulty areas.
6) Once you have gone through all the various grits of sandpaper you should notice that you have a very even and consistent surface on the surface of your wheels. Since you have been sanding it, it will not look nice and shiny yet but it should look smooth. It is very important to go over the entire wheel again to look for flaws because if you missed any, when it is completely polished, imperfections will be magnified and easily identified.
7) When you have completed all your sanding and inspection of the surface, to make sure it is all smooth and devoid of flaws, take your soap and water and wash your wheels again. This time you will want to wash it good to make sure you have removed all of the dirt, oil and particles. Then take your microfibre or non-abrasive towel and begin to apply the polish. Do this a little bit at a time as you will want to rub it into the wheel until it starts to change to a greyish black color. Wait until it dries and then buff it off with another separate clean towel. If you would like it to be shinier you can repeat this process by adding another coat of polish.
If you have truly followed these steps and learned how to polish wheels correctly, the finished piece should result in a flawless like-new shine when exposed to sunlight. At that point in time you can sit back and enjoy all the hard work you put into learning how to polish aluminum wheels. Even though it is a lot of hard work, if you follow all the steps and complete the process carefully, you will be rewarded with magnificent wheels that look much cleaner and shinier than the ones you began with. Now take this new found knowledge on how to polish alloy wheels and show it off to your friends and family!
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