How To Remove Spray Paint From Rims (A Pro’s DIY Guide)

There's a multitude of reasons for removing spray paint clear coat from rims. Perhaps a random act of vandalism, an accidental overspray, or maybe just to jazz up those aluminum wheels. 

Car accessories are expensive and vulnerable to damage. Seeing spray paint on your rims is very upsetting, but you can fix this with a bit of know-how. 

Here’s how to remove spray paint clear coat from your rims without losing your cool. 

What You’ll Need - Tools, Supplies & Safety Gear 

Before you begin, make sure you have all of these at hand. 

  • A bucket of elbow grease (you are the main tool required for the job) 
  • Paint thinner or lacquer thinner or removing product (we'll list a few options below) 
  • Plenty of rags, cloths, and sponges 
  • Small brush attachment for hard to reach crevices, putty knife (plastic) 
  • Pressure washer or power washer (optional) 
  • Water and soap (dish soap works wonders) 
  • Standard safety glasses, rubber gloves, mask for fumes, protective ground cover 
Tip: Spray paint is an oil-based product. Therefore you'll need a specific solvent to remove clear coat from rims and paint from aluminum wheels. 
hand disinfection

How To EASILY Remove Spray Paint From Rims

Here is our step-by-step guide to removing spray paint from rims and aluminum wheels by rim type and bonus tips.

It may take a whole weekend, but you can do this. 

Removing Paint From Steel Rims 

Steel rims are the most common type of rims on vehicles. Prepare all the tools from the list above before beginning. Remember to put on your protective gear before proceeding. 

Following manufacturer label direction, spray the rim with the product of choice, but avoid involving the tire and vehicle body.  

Wait the allotted time before removing the solvent with rags; working quickly. Manage small areas before moving on to the next surface. (This process may involve shrink-wrapping the rims and allowing the chemical to work overnight.) 

Once the bulk of the solvent is removed, concentrate on the smaller hard-to-reach crevices. Then, using the small brass wire brush or soft bristled brush (old toothbrush), dig into the spaces. Repeat until you feel confident that the solvent has been removed. 

Wash rims and aluminum wheels with soapy water as the solvent may continue until it’s neutralized. 

For stubborn paint removal, sanding may be required. Using powered buffer tools may come in handy. 

Tip: Paint thinners, solvents, and paint remover can potentially damage rubber surfaces and car paint.  

Removing Paint From Chrome Rims 

Spray painted chrome is more delicate and requires caution. Prepare the chrome surface by removing residual grime with soap and water.  

Many people have successfully used acetone (nail polish remover), paint thinner/remover, chrome polish, rubbing alcohol, and domestic oven cleaner. 

Keep an eye on how the solvent and paint react. Once the paint blisters and loosens, work paint away with a plastic knife, scrubby, and cloth. Work carefully so as not to damage the chrome. 

Rubbing alcohol works well when applied with fine steel wool. The alcohol will break down the paint; again, be careful when scraping off paint residue. 

Use oven cleaner as directed on the can, allowing the product to activate over time. Work quickly and carefully. Use a pressure washer to help remove paint from rims and aluminum wheels. 

Wash aluminum wheels thoroughly and polish to the desired effect. 

Tip: Sanded chrome surfaces are going to be more difficult to work with. 

Removing Paint From Aluminum Rims 

Spray painted aluminum is fickle, but a product like Goof Off shouldn't harm the material. Always work quickly and follow the product label instructions. Safety precautions mentioned previously still apply. 

Apply Goof Off, allow it to permeate the paint, and then remove clear coat swiftly with rags and a soft plastic scraper in tricky areas. Remove any overspray from surfaces immediately. 

For added results, powerwash afterward. 

Tip: If your rims are off, try pouring boiling water on the affected spray-painted area. Careful of splashing. Boiling water may remove the paint from aluminum wheels and save you tons of physical scrubbing. Repeat as needed. 

Removing Paint From Alloy Rims 

Alloy rims customize a ride. We choose them for aesthetic appeal, performance, fuel economy, and corrosion resistance. 

Alloy wheels are also often more costly, but they make a statement. Unfortunately, Remove black spray paint from alloy wheels can be time-consuming and challenging because of the intricate patterns. 

Apply the paint remover of choice and follow recommended wait and removal guidelines. Always rinse the product, and a high-pressure cleaning device may remove residual paint. 

Tip: Protect yourself and your vehicle, but also consider the surface beneath. Solvents may damage garage flooring and driveways and can even kill lawns. 
car rim

Things To Consider When Stripping Spray Paint From Rims 

There are many paint stripper products on the market to remove paint off rims fast. You aren’t the first person that needs to correct a wrong or wants to attempt a DIY paint job. 

A few considerations before paint starts. Always, regardless of what paint strippers product you end up using to remove all the paint from your rims, do a test patch. 

Consider removing the tire from the rim. It’s not always necessary, but if the situation warrants it, then take the time. 

Sample paint stripper product list for the best way to remove paint off rims available at your local store: 

  • Goof-off is professional strength paint, tar, adhesive paint remover 
  • Sunnyside Hi-Speed Ready Strip 
  • Super Remover Paint Stripper 
  • Chemical Guys 
  • Citristrip 
  • Max Strip Paint & Varnish Paint Stripper 
  • Sunnyside 2 Minute Remover Advanced 
  • Confined Space Paint Stripper 
  • Aircraft Paint Remover 

Other options: 

  • Acetone 
  • Oven cleaner 
  • Kerosine (plasti-dip) 
  • Rubbing alcohol 

Look for paint stripper products that don’t contain harmful components like methylene chloride or NMP (N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone).  

Use common sense and wear eye protection, hand protection and a respirator when applying the paint stripper to avoid contact with it.

Tip: Consider wind direction and nearby objects as overspray may have a wide fall-out area. Plan ahead. 

Removing Spray Paint From Rims FAQs 

What would an automotive paint specialist charge to remove paint from rims? 

A automotive paint specialist can charge between $99 to $135 per rim (price based on professional rim scuff repairs.) to remove paint from rims. However, tracking down accurate price quotes is difficult. 

What is the fastest way to remove paint from rims? 

The fastest way to remove paint from rims is to use a potent solvent (oven cleaner), elbow grease, and a pressure washer as a paint remover.

How long does it take to remove the spray paint from rims? 

The duration required to remove spray paint from rims depends on the solvent, the intricacy of the rim, and if the surface was sanded prior. In general, this will likely take 1-4 hours.

How do you get spray paint off a bike rim? 

To get spray paint off a bike rim, you can use the same methods suggested above on how to remove paint from bike rims. Also read about how to spray paint a bike here.

How to remove Plasti-dip paint from rims? 

The most effective method to remove plasti- dip from rims is kerosine. Apply kerosine, wait 10 minutes to activate, and chip away at the paint. Repeat as needed. 


Remove spray paint off rims may seem daunting, but it’s doable. Use the right products, follow the product label instructions and the tips we suggest here, and you’ll get the job done.  

Repairing or refurbishing rims will make your vehicle look better and may increase its resale value.