Honda Element Steel Rim Repaint

Project Overview
The Element was recently taken in for new tires.  With new tires installed, it was very apparent that the steel rims were in poor condition.  Since the steel rims were originally black, a gloss black paint was going to be used.  But after looking at the various paint color options, metallic silver was chosen instead.

The paint product used is the Rust-Oleum High Performance Wheel paint with their High Heat primer.  For this project, the following cans were purchased:

1 can of primer
2 cans of silver metallic
1 can of clear coat


Additionally, some other items are needed to make the task a bit easier.  First, wire wheels for a power drill, a couple 4″ wire wheels and a couple 3″ wire cups.  Blue painter’s tape, news paper (or paper bags) for masking the tires, and a bucket with soap and water.

Getting Started
Ideally, all four rims would be painted at the same time.  Since there were only a couple jackstands available, the rear rims were done first, followed by the fronts.  Using a floor-jack, lift the rear in the center and place a jack stand under each lower control arm.  With the weight resting on the jack stands, the floor-jack is left in place as a precaution.

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With the back end up, remove both tires.  Using a combination of wire wheels and cups with a corded power drill, remove all rust and loose paint.  Be sure to also score all the panted surfaces so the primer will bond properly.  There was a good pile of rust, brake dust and dirt leftover from this process.

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Using a the bucket with soapy water and a blue Scotch-Brite sponge, the tires and rims were thoroughly cleaned.  Be sure to clean the tires next to the rims where the masking tape will be applied.  It’s critical for the tape to have maximum adhesion.  Leave to dry, preferably in the sun.  Compressed air was used to force air out of the welded seam areas.

Next, apply the painter’s tape with newspaper or paper bags.  News paper was originally used, but paper bags were found to be easier to work with and less likely to blow around in the wind.

HondaElement_RimPaint_08 HondaElement_RimPaint_07Ready for paint!  Be sure to work in a well ventilated area, and wear a respirator.  Using the primer, lay a thin coat on each rim to begin with.  Although the can states it will be dry to the touch in ten minutes, I found that it was almost instantaneous which is quite amazing.  Waited about five minutes and applied a second coat.

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The rims were left in the sun to dry for a hour or so… and then the finish coats were applied.  Again, and especially with this step, work in a well ventilated area.  The odor from the wheel paint is very strong, and the metallic flake is airborne also.  Apply a couple light coats with time to dry between coats.  As with the primer, this dries to the touch in just minutes.  After ten or fifteen minutes, carefully remove the paper and masking in one piece, flip the rims over and reapply the masking to the other side.

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Repeat the painting process again.  Cover all sides with the clear-coat.  When done, leave the rims to dry overnight.

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The front is the same as the back, but here’s a tip about floor-jack placement.  Place the stands by the lower control arm, next to the tow hook that is welded to the chassis.  The jack-stand is set as low as possible where the tires can still be removed.  Again, the floor jack is left in place as a safety measure.

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The coverage and quality of this paint is excellent, it lays on easily and evenly.  The the quality of the metallic is fantastic, quick remarkable for a can of spray paint.  It’s hard to see and appreciate the quality in a picture, but here’s a closeup of the finished work.

The project cost less than $50 (paint, brushes, tape, supplies), took just a couple days and the results are outstanding.  With the plastic hub caps back on, it looks great and it makes the truck look less dated.  Well worth the money, time and effort.

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