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OZ Wheel Repair

Over the course of my years at Lehigh University, parking on the city streets of Bethlehem, PA had not been forgiving toward my OZ Ultraleggera rims. I decided it was a good time to repair the damage from my abuse and to also put a fresh coat of paint on them.

A close-up of the wheels show curb damage on the spokes and rim, as well as abrasions on the spokes. These will need to be filed, sanded, filled, primed, and painted.

First, the wheels need to be removed for cleaning. I found it easiest to do them two at a time.

It is very important that the rims are thoroughly cleaned before the repair process begins. I hit them with some wheel cleaner/degreaser first, and then finished the job with a sponge and soap.

With the grime gone, hose the soap off and dry the rim partially.

The first step of the repair is to file down the curb rash around the rim.

The file makes quick work smoothing out the deformed metal. Any remaining imperfections will be filled later with Bondo.

Next, we begin sanding away the paint from each of the wheels. I used 100-grit sandpaper & a sanding block on the flat portion of the spokes, and I did the harder-to-reach areas by hand. Note that only the outward facing areas of the rim need to be sanded; the inner portion of the rim is covered in dirt & brake dust and does not need to be painted.

Here's a photo of a sanded-down wheel. Some of the areas (like around the raised lettering) were hard to sand by hand. Instead, I'd highly recommend sandblasting the wheels with the tires removed; this is much less labor intensive, and will give the best surface for applying the primer.

Now the gouges and deformities in the wheels need to be filled. Bondo Body Filler is a great choice, but I'd recommend using a pre-mixed tube of Bondo instead (it doesn't require mixing between applications).

I placed 3" x 5" index cards in between the wheel and tire when applying the Bondo around the rim. This kept the body filler off of the tire while it hardened.

Once the filler is applied and fully dried, it can be sanded smooth.

The wheels need to be hosed and dried one final time before painting. Do your painting on a hot day for the quickest dry times between layers. It is also essential to paint on a day with low humidity because it affects how the spray paint is applied and the opacity of the clear coat.

Once the wheel is dried, the mounting holes and center cap area are blocked off. I used rolled up index cards in the lug nut holes and painters tape in the center hole.

Index cards are used again to keep the spray paint off the tires. Don't forget to cover the valve stem with painter's tape, too!

I used a can of Duplicolor sandable primer on each wheel and waited about 10 minutes between the application of each thin, even coat. Be sure not to use "filler" primer, because there is a chance it will chemically erode the metal alloy.

I chose to use white primer because I thought it would lighten the graphite color coat. However, this was a bad idea; choose a color of primer that matches the shade of your final color. That way, if the outer coat chips, it doesn't look out-of-place against the exposed primer.

After the primer dries, you can apply the color paint in thin, even coats spaced about 20 minutes apart. I used half a can of Duplicolor wheel graphite spray paint on each wheel which resulted in about three coats. Because I already filled and sanded out the most noticeable gouges, I did not need to sand the primer prior to applying the color layer; just be sure you don't let the paint run and pool up in the lug nut area.

As soon as the last layer of color paint dries, begin painting layers of clear coat using the same 20 minute intervals. I used a half-can of Duplicolor wheel clear coat spray paint on each wheel.

As a final touch, I also painted each of my lug nuts. After cleaning them and covering the threads with painters tape, apply the same layers of primer, color, and clear coat. Although the paint on the lug nuts will chip off while tightening them, the exposed surface still blends in much better with the rest of the wheel.

Once the painted rims and sets of lug nuts have dried at least 24 hours, they are ready to be put back on the car.

The repaired rims look great on my car, and the imperfections in my painting job are only visible during close inspection. The color is perfect too; the graphite paint blends in perfectly as brake dust builds up, so the rims just lose their glossy appearance as opposed to looking dirty.

My only complaint with the paint is that the rims are very prone to chipping, especially when getting new tires mounted. However, if I mistakenly scrape a curb or develop a chip in the paint from road debris, all I need to do is lightly sand the affected area and apply a few quick layers of color and clear coat spray paint.

The touch-up process can even be done with the wheel still on the car; tape newspaper around the fender and brakes, and have a cutout in a piece of newspaper over the affected spot. Just be sure to overspray slightly beyond the sanded area so the paint blends properly into the adjacent areas.


6-pack of 100-grit sandpaper $6.00
Bondo body filler $8.99
4x cans of Duplicolor sandable primer (white) $21.96
2x cans of Duplicolor wheel spray paint (graphite) $12.98
2x cans of Duplicolor wheel clear coat $12.98

Total $62.91