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Picture of Refurbish Your Old Rims - Make Them Look Like New!

In Sweden, it is mandatory to have winter tires during the winter half year. I only had dull looking steel rims for my winter tires, which was something I wanted to change.

Since I am a student and do not want to spend to much money on wheels for my car, I decided to buy a set of second hand BBS wheels and put some time into them to make them look like new.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need


  • An old set of rims
  • Aluminum primer (either in a rattle can or for a paint gun)
  • Wheel paint in a color of your choice (either in a rattle can or for a paint gun)
  • Centercaps


  • Sander or an angle grinder
  • Dremel
  • Polishing/Buffing kit (buffing wheel, buffing compound)
  • Drill
  • In case of split wheels; socket wrench and a socket (usually an XZN socket)
  • Paint mask
  • Tape

In case of buying wheels with tires; you will also need a tire machine or as in my case a friend with access to a tire machine. In case that you do not know anyone with a tire machine, your local mechanic can help you get the tires of the wheels.

mrwonton1 year ago

what type of car?

timdekker1825 (author)  mrwonton1 year ago

A Volkswagen Golf Mk4

Dang, I want one!

timdekker1825 (author)  mrwonton1 year ago

Would definitely recommend it, it has been very reliable! :)

looks mint! 2 tips

When the rims are split for refurbishing you might as well remove the valve stems for easier paint stripping and polishing, new valve stems are dirt cheap and easy replaced.

I would have applied some kind of sealer to the lips to prevent me having to go trough the painstaking polishing process so often, specially when you use them as a winter set.

But main those wheels look tasty, good job!

timdekker1825 (author)  fons-Z-mille1 year ago
Thank you!

I agree with you on both of your tips. I don't have a clue to why I did not remove the valve stem. And about the sealing of the lips, do you have any suggestions on what to use?

Some automotive grade clear coat would do nicely. I've used this on newly polished headlights and it works wonders to reduce UV degradation and make cleaning easy.

timdekker1825 (author)  JAMESM4661 year ago

It came to my mind as well. However, I was afraid that the clear coat would not stick to the polished surface, especially since the wheels are very much exposed to stone chipping.

Clear coat on polished wheels is really hard to get right. And after a while it will flake, even on some factory polished and clear coated wheels the coating flakes after a few years. But I can't remember for the life of me what my mate tipped me to use (he's a car detailer by trade)
crazypj1 year ago

Looks good, I do a bit of aluminium polishing on motorcycle parts plus I've done quite a few alloy wheels over the years. It's a ton of work to refurb wheels plus keep them good afterwards. Very few paints will 'stick' to aluminium for any length of time, the oxidised surface prevents good adhesion, particularly when highly polished. Aluminium forms a surface layer of oxides a few microns thick almost immediately on exposure to air, (but, you know that) Professional polishing will leave a layer of very hard wax which will protect wheels for several months in good conditions but only a few days on 'salted' roads. I'm British, the dally/weekly freeze/thaw cycles mess things up quick as there is a lot of salt and water

timdekker1825 (author)  crazypj1 year ago

Thank you!

Yes, it is very hard to keep them as nice as they are in the photos. I give them a good polish before I put them on for the winter season and then just let nature take it turn on them. If I would like to keep them as they are in the photos for the whole winter season, I would have to put in way to much time on polishing as you can imagine haha.

a lot of work but beautiful result!

timdekker1825 (author)  niek.dekker.541 year ago
Thank you! I agree, really happy with the end result!
mrwonton1 year ago

love the car

timdekker1825 (author)  mrwonton1 year ago
Thank you, done a few small mods to it and I'm really happy about how it has turned out!
tercero1 year ago

Nice. I'm curious though about the balance on the tire after farting around so much with it. Do you have to have new wheel weights added for any shimmy or offset?

Amaries1 year ago
Very nice instructables with detailed pictures.
timdekker1825 (author)  Amaries1 year ago

Thank you for the kind words!