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DIY Alloy Repair

impee's DIY Alloy Repair for BMW 318i e46
How to fix Damaged / Scratched Alloys yourself!

Difficulty Level: Easy / Medium

Approximate Time For This Project: 3 hours in total for 1 alloy, 7 hours in total for all 4 alloys

Prices: Professional costs for 1 alloy repair - £60 - £80
DIY costs for 1 alloy repair - £8
Own alloy repair kit - £32, enough for 8+ alloy repairs (you will only need to buy extra sand paper)

Project Pack - Assorted Wet / Dry Sandpaper
This pack contains grit 60, 80 120, 400, 600, 800 & 1200) - also try to get some 200 grit sandpaper, if possible. 1 £5.00
Metalik (Filler Paste) (US) I read somewhere that 'Bondo Spot Putty' also does the job 1 £6.50
Masking Tape 1 £2.00
I did not use a Primer in this project, however I have been informed that it should have as it more or less allows the new paint to stick down hard to the alloy which already has shiny lacquer on it. I would recommend that a Primer be used. Brief usage instructions can be found in section #11. 1
Silver Wheel Spray (UK) art no 0893 351 900 - (£5.95 delivery)
(US) art no 0892181 1 £9.69
Transparent High Gloss Lacquer (UK) art no 0893 351 930 - (£5.95 delivery)
(US) art no 0893351930 1 £9.74
Compound (optional) See  Section #13
(UK) 3M Perfect-it III Finishing Glaze
(US) 3M III Rubbing Compound
Paint Thinner
White Spirit - for incase you may need to remove unwanted spray paint on the tyre, badge,  nozzle, etc.
WARNING: Do not touch the thinner anywhere on the car body (painted surfaces)!!!
Old Newspaper & Magazine or plastic sheets Several
Roll of Kitchen Towel 1
Pen Knife 1
Sponge, Detergent & Washing Liquid 1

*prices correct at time of publication

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1) Assemble Your Kit + Notes

In addition to the kit in the photo, you will need a pen knife as shown in Step #7, lots of kitchen towel and a piece of Cardboard to mix the filler on.

A few people have been critical about the fact that I did not remove the alloys from the car when I did this DIY. All I can comment is that it if you wish to add extra time and effort to this already lengthy and tedious DIY, then please feel free and remove them. I did not want to spend my whole weekend just repairing alloys - I have a life :)

Alloy Repair Kit


2) Clean, Clean and Clean (20 mins)

As you can see the below alloy is more or less lightly scratched the whole way round, with several deep cuts to the top and paint chipped off at the top right. I believe this damage will cover all possible damage to alloys, hence this DIY will be suitable for you.

First sand the scruffs with 200 grit sand paper to remove the embedded dirt and loose paint.

Next wash the alloy with detergent twice, with emphasis on the scruffs.

Next use paint thinner on the scruffs to remove any other deposits / coats - in my case clear nail polish varnish that I had applied to the scruffs months back to avoid them accumulating dirt and stop them from possible rusting

Damaged Alloy


3) Preparation of the Filler (5 mins)

The filler already has an applicator within the tin. The red dot is the Hardener (also in the tin) and the photo shows the recommended ratio of mixture. This is best mixed on a cardboard. Mix the filler for about 30 seconds till the red mixes in.

Before you mix a next lot, you must scrape away the old dried up bits so they don't get mixed with the new and ruin the mixture.

Filler on Alloy


4) Application of Filler (10 mins)

This is best done with the applicator, however at particular parts you may need to use your fingers.

Filler on Alloy


5) Filler Applied

As shown in the photo it makes no difference if the filler is rough and sticks out as it is 'piece of cake' to sand it back down to size as it is very soft.

Leave the filler to dry for a couple of hours (if hot weather), however I left mine over night.

alloy Been Filled


6) Sanding (20 mins)

Rip small pieces of Sandpaper and wrap them around a small piece of wood (3 inches long) as in the photo below.
Pour some detergent in a cup of water and keep dipping the sandpaper in the the water through out, from start to finish.

Before you start, I think I must mention that the sandpaper will only sand the filler and it is very, very difficult to sand the alloy down. This means sanding the filler to shape and size is very easy and there is no problem whatsoever about sanding it wrong or even too deep.

Start with Grit 200 (don't need water or the wood block) to slightly smoothen the big rough filler patches.

NOTE: Do not sand too much with this as it will cut away too deep in to the filler and also into the paint.

Use all of the following with water and the block:
  400 - to get the filler level with the alloy
  600 - to adjust it further and to shape it
  800 - to give the final touches
  1200 - more or less for the sake of it :) - or, to give it a final touch

Sanding Alloy


7) Rough Edges

Once you have sanded it down you will notice a top part of the alloy where the sand paper cannot reach...!!!

This is more or less the only difference between doing it yourself or having a professional do it for you, i.e. he deflates the tyre and then takes it off so he can even fill the tops and sand them down. We cannot do that, so Plan B, a pen knife. 

Use this particular curved blade / knife to scrape away the top excess filler.

Knifing Alloy


8) Scrape (5 mins)

Be careful you do not scrape too much or too fast as you might take some extra filler away, meaning back to step #4.

Cutting Away Extra Filler


9) Clean, Clean and Clean (10 mins)

Wash the alloy with kitchen detergent thoroughly, may be twice with emphasis on the scruffs to remove all the sanded filler.

I used the yellow cream cleaner to get rid of the dirt on the main sanded area. This cream cleaner has tiny grains in it and may very slightly cut into the alloy paint, but never mind, as you will be painting it.

I then used the softer washing liquid to get rid of grease etc. on the rest of the alloy (so the paint is not damaged by the stronger previously used yellow cream cleaner).

It is a must the whole alloy is thoroughly cleaned because if there is any dirt on the alloy and you paint it the paint will not hold on permanently and a few weeks / months later it will peel / flake off. The whole alloy needs to be cleaned because when you spray the filler you automatically will / may get paint in the surrounding areas too.

Clean Alloy Again


A cleaned alloy, ready to be painted.

Clean Alloy


10) Protecting The Car (10 mins)

Use lots of newspaper and attach it to the body of the car with Masking tape to avoid any spray paint or lacquer spoiling the car body paint, also use this procedure to protect the tyre. The 10 mins time is based upon you getting the technique right - in the photo I have folded small pieces of a magazine paper sheets and taped them individually in a fan arrangement, giving them a centre cut so you can fold them back. While doing this you might for the 2nd time wonder why you ever started this project...but don't worry, you will get the satisfaction when you rip them off at the end :)

Another method I have thought of afterwards is to use a plastic sheet (the ones you put over furniture while painting). You can cut that up and stick it to the car with Masking tape. That should take 5mins and save you a lot of trouble. I suppose you could simply tuck the plastic into the gap between the alloy and tyre.

NOTE: Also put some masking tape over the air nozzle and BMW badge to cover them...I realised it a bit too late!!!

Alloy Ready to Paint


11) Spray Painting The Alloy - 2 Initial Coats (44 mins)

NOTE: I did not use a Primer myself, however I have been informed that it should have been, as it more or less allows the new  paint to stick down hard to the alloy which already has shiny lacquer on it. I would recommend that a Primer be used. It is as easy as the steps below, you spray it on and read how long is is meant to dry for, then just follow the steps below to paint over it.

Shake the can for at least 1 minute then test the spray paint to see what distance you are meant to spray from so that it is a very thin layer and does not run. In total you will need to do about 4 layers of paint, so don't worry if you think a thin one will not cover much, by the 4th it will. Leave 20 mins or so drying time between each coat - provided its a nice hot sunny day.

Once you have tested the distance, apply 2 coats of paint, allowing the above recommended drying time. Spray with the button pressed full (if you press half or less you will get small blobs of paint spray out - happened to me!) and constantly move the can left to right to left around the whole alloy. Do not stop the can anywhere other wise the paint will run.

As the paint colour was an exact match I also lightly sprayed the front wide parts of the spokes.

NOTE: I would only recommend carrying out the spray painting on a warm & sunny day. I myself had to wait 1 week to get the prefect day to spray paint my sanded alloys. The warmth allows the paint to dry quicker and prevents it from running.

<Spray Painting Alloy


12) Spray Painting The Alloy - 2 Final Coats (44 mins)

Repeat step 11.


13) Spraying Lacquer (44 mins)

First test the lacquer to see what distance you are meant to spray from so you get a very thin layer and it does not run. You will need to do at least 2 layers. Leave 20-30 mins drying time between each coat - again making sure its a nice hot sunny day.

Once the last coat has dried you will find the surface slightly rough compared to the car body, that is normal. You have the option of either just polishing the alloy for a temporary fix or then use Compound to blend / smoothen the paint and to give it the factory mirror finish. If you intended to go ahead with this (which I couldn't be bothered with), I would recommend the ones as listed in the required items at the top of the project.


14) Take your Car For A Wash  - It's Now In SUMMER MODE!!! :)

If you find any silver paint spray-over on the tyre, never mind, as a week or two later it will come off itself.

NOTE: The below photo is of one of the four alloys that I repaired.

Finished Alloy

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DIY BMW e46 Alloy Repair repair by - impee

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