How to Polish aluminum rims

One of the top questions I get asked is How can I get my aluminum rims to shine like a mirror.  In this short blog I explain exactly how to do that.

Step by Step Process

  1. Clean your rim of all dirt and road debris, if you have grease and or tar using mineral spirits and an SOS pad works wonders. (personally I don`t use acid, but on certain occasions when rims are very badly oxidized using acid can make the process easier.)
  2. Prepping and sanding aluminum is the secret to a deep clear shine.  I use 180, 320, 400 and 600 grit aluminum oxide sand paper.  Always remember that your first grit is the bulk of your work.  so whether you start with 180 grit when rims are bad or 320 when rims are average that first grit will take most of your sanding time.
  3. Now you`re ready for the Cutting step.  most  buffing wheels are rated for 3200-3400 rpm. (for insurance purposes)  I polish with a 6000 rpm Dewalt Grinder, cuts the polishing time in half and in my opinion I yield better clarity.  Use 10 inch orange/yellow blend buffing wheels with 439T Green Menzerna compound.  This provides the fastest cut and shine on the market!
  4. Next use a 10 inch white untreated  buffing wheel with 480BLF Blue Menzerna Compound.  This step will remove 70-80% of the buffing lines left behind from your cutting step.  This step can be done at any speed between 3000-6000 rpm
  5. Next for a High Lustre use a 10 inch White Domet Flannel Buffing Wheel also with the 480BLF Blue Menzerna Compound.  Here often reducing speed to 1800-2200 rpm can help remove more of the buffing lines.  Depending on the situation and aluminum grade testing is often required to get the best results.  
  6. If you're dealing with durabright/accushield rims.  The coating needs to be removed before you sand or polish.  Use these high strength discs to remove the coating, no chemical mess and takes much less time to get the job done.

If anyone has further questions comment below or visit our FaQ page that answers several common questions.


thanks for reading,

click here: if you want to find out how to polish stainless steel straps...  :)

Denis - Owner, Master Detailer



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