How To Fix A Scratch On A Rim? Curb Rash Repair Process

Robert Herrera-COR-Wheels

By Robert Herrera

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As a car owner, scratches on your rim or wheel can be frustrating. Not only do they detract from the car’s appearance, but they can also lead to rust and corrosion if left untreated. 

Fortunately, the method to fix scratched rims is not as difficult to perform as you might think. I’ll guide you through the repair process, step by step.

Determine The Wheel Finish To Choose The Right Tool

To properly cure your scratches, you must be aware of the type of finish you have because not all coat finishes respond the same way. It’s critical to have faith in the polishes and treatments you own because they are each made for very specific surfaces.

Painted Rim

Cutting compound or a scratch remover, is frequently used to treat superficial scratches. 

Deep scratches can be repaired in many ways, including sanding the wheel off for paint correction, filling the area with a clear coat pen to cover up the visible damage, and completing the spot with a cutting compound or wet sanding.

Powder Coated

Powder Coated rim

The surface of a powder-coated wheel is not as smooth as that of paint when viewed closely. It frequently has an orange peel-like texture, which could be partially removed by sanding or employing cutting chemicals, resulting in a visual difference. 

Because there is no clear coat applied over the powder coat, it is also a good choice to use color-matching paint pens.

Polished Metals

Polished Metals rim

You should utilize a polish made for the type of metal you’re working with to remove surface blemishes. If you want to clean and protect an aluminum wheel, use aluminum polish; for a steel one, use steel polish.

Depending on the severity of the damage, you might have to wet sand where there are deep scratches. When removing deep rim scratches, you will frequently begin with wet 800-grit paper and work your way up to 2000-grit or higher paper. 

To achieve a mirror finish, proceed backward through the polishes until you reach 2000.

Chromed Finished

Chromed Finished

Since the coating has been made harder, the main protection against filled scratches on chrome wheels is polishing. Scratches on these rims can be lightly remedied with high-grit sandpaper, but as this is a multi-layer procedure, going too far could result in excessive damage.


After experiencing many tries and errors, I have come to the conclusion that if your surface has some minor shallow scratches, using scratch remover or a clear coat pen can solve your problem. 

On the flip side, suppose the scratches are deep; you must take a step further to sand and polish the damaged areas, which will be explained in the next section.

How To Fix Scratched Rims

Your alloy rims may look dull if they have scratches or dents. However, when the damage to your alloy rim is minor, you may fix it yourself. 

Materials Needed

  • Wheel cleaner or dish soap
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sandpaper (various grits: 220, 400, 800, and 1500 grit)
  • Rubbing compound or metal polish
  • Paint or clear coat (optional)
  • Paintbrush or touch-up pen (optional)
  • Clear tape

How To Do It

Step 1: Before making any wheel curb rash repair, spend some time cleaning the wheels to ensure no dirt or debris will leave more scratches as you sand.

cleaning tire

Clean the wheel thoroughly using wheel cleaner or dish soap and water. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the wheel completely.

Step 2: Evaluate the scratch. Determine its depth and length. This will help you decide the appropriate course of action to take.

Step 3: If the scratch is shallow, you can try to sand it out. Start with the 220-grit sandpaper and sand the scratch in a circular motion. Keep the sandpaper wet to prevent it from clogging.

sand the scrat rim

Continue sanding with the 400, 800, and 1500-grit sandpaper until the scratch is no longer visible. Rinse the wheel with water and dry it with a microfiber cloth.

Step 4: Suppose the scratch is deeper; you may need to fill it with paint or a clear coat. Clean the area around the blemish and apply clear tape to mask off the surrounding area.

paint a rim

Apply a paint or clear coat to the scratch using a paintbrush or touch-up pen, depending on the size. Allow the coating to dry completely before removing the tape.

Step 5: After the paint or clear coat has dried, use the 1500-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the area to smooth out any imperfections. Use a circular motion and keep the sandpaper wet. Rinse the wheel with water and dry it with a microfiber cloth.

Step 6: Apply a small amount of rubbing compound or metal polish to a microfiber cloth and rub it onto the affected area. Use a circular motion and apply light pressure. This will remove any remaining scratches and restore the shine to the wheel.

Step 7: Clean the wheel again using wheel cleaner or dish soap and water. Rinse the wheel with water and dry it with a microfiber cloth.

How To Avoid Curb Rash

Curb rash is a common problem when your wheels come into contact with curbs or other obstacles while driving or parking. The result is unsightly scratches, chips, and dents that can be costly to repair. Fortunately, there are tips you can take to avoid curb rash altogether:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: When driving, be mindful of your surroundings, especially when parking. Look out for curbs, parking stops, and other obstacles that could potentially cause damage to your wheels.
  • Take it slow: When parking, take it slow and approach the curb at a gentle angle. This will help you avoid scraping your wheels against the curb.
  • Use your mirrors: Use your side mirrors to help guide you into parking spaces. This will give you a better view of the curb and other obstacles that could cause damage to your wheels.
  • Park away from the curb: Whenever possible, try to park away from the curb. This will reduce the risk of accidentally scraping your wheels against it.
  • Use wheel stops: When parking in a garage or other enclosed space, use wheel stops to prevent your wheels from contacting the curb or other obstacles.
  • Be cautious on rough roads: Rough roads, speed bumps, and potholes can also cause damage to your wheels. Drive slowly and carefully on rough roads to avoid curbs and other obstacles.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated: Underinflated tires can increase the risk of curb rash by making it more difficult to control your vehicle. Make sure your tires are properly inflated to the recommended pressure.
  • Invest in curb protectors: If you’re really worried about curb rash, you can invest in curb protectors. These are plastic or rubber strips that attach to your wheels and provide a barrier between your wheels and the curb.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Scratched Rims Expensive To Fix?

A wheel scratch repair may cost from $150-$500. Still, the actual charge depends on the damage’s extent and the fixing method. Minor scratches can often be fixed with simple DIY methods and may not cost much, while deeper scratches or cracks that require professional repair may be more expensive.

Why Do My Rims Scratch So Easily?

Rims can scratch easily for various reasons, including driving on rough roads, hitting curbs or other obstacles, improper cleaning techniques, and using abrasive or harsh cleaning products. Additionally, the rim’s material can also affect its susceptibility to scratching.

The Bottom Line

So there you have the method on scratched rim repair. Fixing a scratch on a rim wheel is a task that can be completed with a few basic tools and some patience. Whether your rim wheel is painted or polished, the methods discussed in this article can help you restore its appearance and protect it from further damage.

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Robert Herrera

President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels

Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.

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