How to Fix Curb Rash

Whether you have aluminum, black, or machined rims, here’s how to fix curb rash on your vehicle.
Written by Lindsey Hoover
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
To fix curb rash, you’ll need (among other things) sandpaper, a filler and scraper, aerosol, and some time and patience. If you would rather leave the job to a professional, expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $500, depending on the severity of the damage.
Curb rash (aka gutter rash) is damage caused to your wheel or rim from hitting the curb or another obstruction on the road. The problem is more common than most drivers think, and if you’re someone who isn’t careful when parking, you’re more likely to sustain this type of damage. 
Of course, accidents happen, and obstructions like potholes can be hard to miss. If you’re wondering how to fix curb rash, you’ve come to the right place. 
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What is a curb rash (gutter rash)?

Curb rash (aka gutter rash) is damage to your vehicle’s wheels or rims caused by rubbing against the curb or by hitting other obstructions on the road, like potholes. 
Damage to your wheels could be as minor as a scratch or scuff or as severe as bending or cracking. No matter the severity of the damage, you can fix gutter rash on your own with a few supplies, patience, and time.

How to fix curb rash on rims

To fix curb rash on your vehicle, you’ll need a few supplies:
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Scotch-Brite pads
  • Filler and scraper
  • Masking tape
  • Masking paper
  • Paint thinner
  • Aerosol etching
  • Primer aerosol
  • Silver chrome (if you need to fix curb rash on black rims, purchase black chrome)
  • Aerosol clear coat
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Optional: safety gear, such as gloves, protective eyewear, and a mask
Once you have all of your materials, make sure your vehicle is safely parked and the engine is turned off. Then follow the steps below to fix the curb rash.

Put on protective gear and clean the damaged area

Using the 80-grit sandpaper, sand the damaged area to even out any inconsistencies in the metal. 
Avoid going beyond the damaged area and work gently until the area is smooth. Then wash off the sand dust and let the area dry.

Apply filler to the damaged area

Gently apply the filler to the damaged area. Use your scraper to smooth the area as best you can, then leave to dry for at least 30 minutes. 
To check if the filler is dry, press your fingernail into the filler—if there’s no indentation, you’re good to go!

Use 180 sandpaper to re-sand the damaged area

Then, use the 180-grit (finer) sandpaper to smooth off any final rough patches.

Scuff the entire wheel rim using the Scotch-Brite pad 

In order for the paint to adhere to your wheel rim, you’ll need to remove any shine. Scuff the rim using a Scotch-Brite pad until there’s a matte finish.

Apply a small amount of paint thinner to the microfiber cloth to clean your rims

Gently clean off the rims using the microfiber cloth. This will allow the primer and paint to adhere better to the metal. 

Mask your vehicle, except for the damaged rims

Using masking paper, stuff the holes of your rims so that the brake pads are covered. Place masking tape behind the rim, then cover your entire vehicle with masking paper. 
Make sure that only the damaged area is exposed—primer and paint can ruin your vehicle.

Apply a thin coat of primer to the entire rim

Work carefully with the primer over the entire damaged area. It’s best to work from top to bottom, using short back-and-forth motions. Let dry for 30 minutes, then apply a second, heavier coat. 

Apply a thin coat of paint to the entire rim

Use short, even strokes and allow the paint to dry for at least 30 minutes. Apply a second coat if needed.

Let the paint dry for 2-12 hours 

If possible, let the paint dry overnight. If you’re pressed for time, two hours should be fine.

Spray a thin layer of clear coat to the entire rim

Make sure to hold the clear coat far enough away from the rim so that it doesn’t cause smears or runs.
Let the rim dry for 30 minutes, then repeat. Avoid touching the rim—doing so can ruin the finish. 

Let the clear coat dry for 12-24 hours

Patience is key.

Remove all masking 

Gently peel away all the masking tape and paper you’ve applied and say hello to your rejuvenated rims!

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If you want to leave the hard work to a professional, a curb rash repair for steel rims will cost you about $50—assuming the damage is minor. For more extensive damage, expect to pay $150+, and for chrome rims expect to pay between $200 and $500.
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