How To Fix Hubcap Scratches?

How To Fix Hubcap Scratches? Scratched and damaged hubcaps can make your vehicle look unsightly. But there are several easy methods to fix hubcap scratches and restore your hubcaps to a like-new condition. This comprehensive guide will explore the various techniques and products you can use to repair superficial scratches as well as deeper gouges on plastic and metal hubcaps.

Assessing Hubcap Scratch Severity

The first step is to examine the hubcap scratches and gauge their depth and severity. Pay attention to the following when inspecting the damage:

  1. Scratch depth – Use your fingernail to determine if the scratches are superficial or deep gouges into the hubcap material. Deeper scratches will require more intensive repairs.
  2. Scratch length – Make note of the length of the scratches. Longer scratches will be more visible and require extra work to blend into the surrounding hubcap finish.
  3. Scratch quantity – Are there just one or two isolated scratches or a dense web of criss-crossing scratches? The more scratches, the more difficult the repair process.
  4. Scratch pattern – Scratches in a consistent direction are easier to blend and buff out compared to scratches going every which way.

Cleaning And Prepping The Hubcap

Before attempting to fix hubcap scratches, thoroughly clean the hubcap to remove any dirt, debris, or grime that could interfere with the repair process. Use a mild detergent and water to clean plastic and chrome hubcaps. For aluminum or steel hubcaps, use specialized metal cleaners and degreasers to prep the surface.

Completely dry the hubcap after washing it before moving onto the next steps. It’s also recommended to lightly scuff the surface surrounding the scratches with fine grit sandpaper. This helps blend the repair work into the original finish.

Repairing Deep Gouges And Scratches
Repairing Deep Gouges And Scratches

Fixing Light Surface Scratches

For light scratches that don’t penetrate deep into the hubcap finish, use the following techniques to fix hubcap scratches:

Plastic Polish and Sealant

Use a high quality plastic polish specifically designed for automotive finishes. Apply a small amount of polish to the scratched area using a microfiber applicator pad. Rub the polish into scratches using a circular motion. The mild abrasives in the polish will help smooth and level the surface. Follow up with a plastic sealant to protect the repaired area.

Touch Up Paint Pens

For colored plastic hubcaps, keep paint pens in the matching factory colors on hand. After cleaning and prepping the surface, lightly scrape the pen nib over the scratches to fill them with colored paint. Allow to fully cure before applying clear coat sealant.

Clear Coat Sealant

A clear urethane sealant can hide fine scratches by filling them and creating a uniform glossy finish. Use sparingly and buff off any excess with a microfiber cloth after application. Avoid over-application which can cause an “orange peel” effect.

Wax and Compound

Use an automotive-grade wax or compound to buff out fine scratches in the clearcoat. Apply using a buffing pad and buff in straight lines with moderate pressure. Follow up with a coat of wax to seal the repair.

Repairing Deep Gouges And Scratches

For more severe scratches that cut deeper into the hubcap finish, use the following techniques:

Fixing Light Surface Scratches
Fixing Light Surface Scratches

Sanding and Repainting

Use progressively finer grit sandpaper to smooth and minimize deeper scratches. Clean and dry the surface. Apply thin coats of primer, paint, and clear coat in the original hubcap color. Allow proper drying time between coats. Finish with a polishing compound.

Filler and Touch Up Paint

For deep gouges, apply thin layers of automotive filler putty to fill the scratch flush with the surrounding surface. Once dry, sand smooth. Clean area and paint over filler with color matched touch up paint. Blend clear coat over repair.

Hubcap Finishing Compound

There are specially formulated metal hubcap repair compounds available. Apply over scratches per package directions. Use included abrasive pads to blend repair into the surrounding area. Rinse and apply protective sealant after.

Professional Repair Service

For extensive scratch damage or complex repair scenarios, seek professional help. Many auto body shops offer hubcap repair services to remove scratches and restore original finish.

DIY Metal Hubcap Scratch Repair Techniques

Metal hubcaps require specialized repair techniques compared to plastic or chrome capped wheels. Here are recommendations for DIY steel and aluminum hubcap scratch repair:

Fix Hubcap Scratches
Fix Hubcap Scratches

Very Fine Sandpaper

Wet sanding with 1000+ grit sandpaper can remove light scratches on smooth metal surfaces. Lubricate the surface with soapy water and lightly rub sandpaper over scratches in straight lines. Rinse and buff dry.

Metal Polish and Buffing

Use a mild metal or chrome polish to buff out fine scratches. Apply polish and buff out with a soft cloth or microfiber pad using circular motions. Finish by coating with carnauba car wax for added protection.

Touch Up Paint Pens

Carefully fill in scratches on painted metal hubcaps using applicable color touch up paint pens. Multiple thin layers are better than one thick coat. Allow paint to fully cure before lightly buffing.

Spot Primer and Paint

For deeper gouges exposing bare metal, apply thin coats of primer then paint using small brushes. Try to match the original hubcap color. Use tapered brush strokes to blend paint into the surrounding area.

Professional Repairs

Deep scratches or extensive damage to metal hubcaps often requires professional repair services to correctly resurface, fill, paint, and blend the finish for optimal results.

Preventing Future Hubcap Scratch Damage

To avoid further hubcap scratches and damage after repairs, implement the following preventive measures:

  1. Install hubcap protection rings – These plastic rings install behind the hubcap to prevent metal wheel rim contact.
  2. Wash hubcaps regularly – Frequent washing keeps abrasive debris from scratching the surface.
  3. Apply scratch resistant sealant – Wax, ceramic, or polymer coatings add a protective barrier.
  4. Handle hubcaps carefully – Avoid scraping or bumping caps against objects when removing.
  5. Park carefully – Position vehicle away from curbs to reduce chances of scraping wheels.

How Do You Fix Scratches On Rims?

Minor scratches on alloy or metal rims can often be repaired at home. First, clean the wheel thoroughly and use fine grit sandpaper to smooth and minimize the scratch. For deeper scratches, apply thin coats of primer and automotive paint in small sections using a brush. Allow each coat to dry fully before the next application. 

Aim to match the original factory color as closely as possible. Once the paint has cured, use a polishing compound to blend the painted area level with the surrounding rim surface. Apply protective wax or wheel sealant when finished.

How Do You Fix A Hubcap?

For plastic hubcaps, deeper scratches may need filler applied then sanded smooth before painting over the repair. Use touch up pens on chrome hubcaps. If the damage is extensive, professional repair or replacement may be necessary. Take preventive steps like frequent cleaning and adding protection rings to avoid future scratches.

Can Scratched Hubcaps Be Repaired?

Yes, minor scratches on hubcaps can often be repaired through sanding, polishing, painting, or applying protective sealants. Plastic polish and very fine grit sandpaper can fix light surface scratches. 

Deeper gouges may require repainting using automotive filler, primer and paint. Chrome and metal hubcaps can be buffed with polish to remove fine scratches. Prevent further damage by handling caps carefully when removing and applying scratch-resistant coatings.

Can I Spray Paint Hubcaps?

It is possible to spray paint hubcaps yourself using proper preparation and paint products. The hubcap surface must be fully cleaned and sanded to create a texture for adhesion. Apply thin coats of plastic primer followed by light layers of automotive spray paint in the original hubcap color. Allow proper drying time between coats. Finish with clear coat sealant for added protection. Maintain distance and watch spray pattern to avoid drips or uneven coverage.

When To Replace Scratched Hubcaps?

There comes a point when severely scratched, cracked, or gouged hubcaps cannot be repaired cost effectively. Consider replacement when:

  1. Deep scratches or gouges span large portions of the hubcap surface.
  2. Multiple extensive scratches crisscross over the entire hubcap.
  3. Repairing would involve repainting, retouching, or resurfacing the majority of the hubcap.
  4. The hubcap has additional damage like cracks or pieces breaking off.
  5. Repair costs exceed 50% or more of the cost of a brand new replacement hubcap.

Even quality hubcap repairs may be visible on close inspection. At a certain level of damage, replacement becomes the better option for an improved appearance.

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Ammar Masoud

I have had a long and fulfilling career in the automotive industry, primarily with Honda and Acura. With 15 years of experience as a Honda service technician, I became highly skilled in repair and maintenance, gaining a deep understanding of these vehicles. After many years in the automotive field, I decided to embark on a second career in industrial manufacturing. It was a significant change, but I found that the skills I had honed in the automotive industry were incredibly valuable in my new role. In my current position in industrial manufacturing, the demand for quality workmanship and meticulous attention to detail is paramount. Fortunately, these are traits that I have cultivated throughout my years in the automotive industry. I take pride in applying these skills to meet the high standards expected in the manufacturing sector.