Second Generation Camaro Owners Group - Refinishing Z28 Wheels

Wheel Refinishing

Written By: MadMike

Wheels take a lot of abuse over time. Refinishing your wheels will not only make sure that the wheels you have are technically sound, but will also protect the wheels for years to come and improve the overall appearance of your car.

Other stuff located somewhere: Link to Z wheel tech. Link to all other available wheels....

The Process:
Dismount tire
Spin wheel, make sure it's round and will balance.
Usually, you can have the above done at a local tire shop at the same time.

Once you know the wheels will balance and the rubber is off them, you can inspect wheel for damage, cracks, rust damage. By spinning just the wheel, you remove the tire from the balance equation... just about anything can be made to balance if you put enough weight on the object. With the tire removed, you're checking just the wheel.

Assuming the wheel passes the above tests, you can refinish it.

Chemical strippers are tough, because they need to be neutralized otherwise they'll come back and destroy your refinishing job. Especially on wheels which are welded together, the stripper will get into seams and crevices and then seep back out.

I prefer to sandblast the wheels. I get a big cardboard box, my blaster, wear my goggles and respirator (or a face mask) and blast away. BLAST BLAST BLAST.

CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN. touch up some areas with the wire brush if necessary.

Now the wheel is bare.
How you paint it will determine the next steps, but in my example, I'm refinishing the early style 5 spoke Z28 wheels. The paint I'm using is the original color Grey which comes in a quart can. The paint is an Acrylic Laquer, which dictates what type of primer I must use.

Metal prep.




Wheel care.


Above Images (click to view full size) from left to right:

The final coat of paint is an acrylic laquer.

Have your selection of tires mounted onto the rim, then finish the wheel with the cap and trim ring.

Finished product

Other stuff
Cleaning (aka "Bitch work")
I use a wire brush attachment on an electric drill to clean parts quickly. This is the "driveway" method. Other alternatives are to blast the part with some sort of blast media, or pressure wash the parts. Or, a combination of the above.

Safety disclaimer.
PLEASE be careful when working on cars. The author of this article will NOT be liable for any damage or injury suffered from reading this article. Protect your eyes, your hands, and your life. Wear goggles. Wear gloves. Use quality tools and jack stands. Have a helper handy. At a minimum, the helper should be able to operate a jack to raise the car off you or your fingers if bad things happen. Have a FUNCTIONAL fire extinguisher handy. Read and understand all directions.

other tips/hints


Last updated: 10/20/2011
Author: MadMike Maciolek

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North Georgia Classic Camaro
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Exploded diagrams courtesy of GM Parts & Illustration Manual