It sounds like you’re ready to tackle a refurbishing project with your wheels and make them look close to new again. This article is specific to sanding aluminum wheels, so make sure you are working with aluminum and not steel since rims are often made from either construction. Also, this article is assuming you’re working with bare aluminum wheels that are not painted or coated.
The basics on how to sand aluminum wheels
How to sand aluminum wheels is a common question from people looking to find the right products and best methods of producing the desired result; getting rid of dull, pitted look and replacing it with a smooth, high-shine surface. If you’ve purchased used wheels or have some that have been around awhile and intend to make them shine, you’ll need to select the correct sanding products in the right order.
To get started, remove any dirt or debris. Use a mild detergent to clean and prepare the surface. Again, we’re assuming you’re working with non-coated or painted wheels.
Steel is a stronger metal and requires a different process and products, and aluminum is a softer metal and needs more care. Silicon carbide sandpaper is often the best option for sanding and finishing aluminum wheels.
For average to poor condition rims, about a 200 grit will be where you can start. If fairly good, you could start with 300. As you work through, you will use a higher number to finish your project. This video demonstrates working your way up in grit as you sand your aluminum wheels. Notice how this demonstration starts with a 220 grit and works up to finishing with a 3,000 grit.