Curb Rash Repair: How To Fix It Easily

Curb rash, a common term for the cosmetic damage inflicted upon car rims, is a prevalent issue for vehicle owners. Typically, this damage is the result of the wheel scraping against the curb while parking or driving.

This unfortunate occurrence can leave unsightly scratches or scrapes on your rims, diminishing the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle. In this article, we will explain the importance of repairing curb rash on your rims and provide a detailed guide on how to perform this task yourself.

Why Should You Fix Curb Rash On Rims?

Pride in vehicle appearance is one reason many people opt to repair curb rash on their rims, but this isn’t purely about aesthetics. For one, curb rash can potentially devalue your vehicle, a factor that comes into play when you decide to sell or trade-in.

Additionally, while minor cosmetic damage isn’t likely to affect wheel performance, significant curb rash could potentially lead to more serious issues over time. Exposed metal is prone to rust, and that rust can spread if not addressed, compromising the wheel’s structural integrity. This can lead to dangerous driving conditions and costly wheel replacement down the line.

Furthermore, untreated curb rash can lead to an uneven tire and rim surface. This unevenness can cause your tires to wear down prematurely, leading to additional unnecessary costs.

In short, addressing curb rash promptly can help maintain your vehicle’s value, prevent additional damage, ensure safe driving conditions, and save you from extra expenses. In the next section, we’ll explore how you can repair curb rash on rims, step-by-step.

What Causes Curb Rash on Rims?

1.     Inattentive Parking

The most common cause of curb rash is accidentally scraping your rims against a curb while parking. This typically occurs when a driver misjudges the distance between the vehicle’s rims and the curb. Over time, these seemingly minor mishaps can cause considerable cosmetic damage.

Side view of the vehicle parked on the curb.

2.     Sharp Turns

Taking turns too sharply, especially in urban areas with tight corners and curbs, can lead to curb rash. Drivers should be mindful of their vehicle’s distance from the curb when making turns to avoid this.

3.     Narrow Roadways

Driving on narrow roads can increase the likelihood of curb rash, particularly in areas with high curbs. Often, there might not be enough space to maneuver the vehicle without brushing against the curb.

4.     Lack of Awareness of Vehicle’s Size

Particularly with larger vehicles or new vehicles that a driver isn’t yet accustomed to, the driver might not be aware of the vehicle’s dimensions and might therefore accidentally scrape the rims against the curb.

5.     Poor Visibility

Driving in poor visibility conditions, such as heavy rain or at night in areas with inadequate street lighting, increases the risk of hitting the curb unintentionally.

6.     Potholes

Hitting potholes can also cause rim damage, especially at higher speeds. The sharp edges of a pothole can scrape against the rim, causing a similar effect to curb rash.

Car wheel before hitting pothole on city street.

7.     Debris in the Roadway

Occasionally, debris in the road, such as rocks or branches, can scrape against your rims, causing scratches or gouges that look like curb rash.

How to Fix Curb Rash on Rims at Home

Before you begin, you will need some supplies: soapy water, a sponge, sandpaper (220, 400, and 800 grit), spot putty, primer, paint that matches your rim, clear coat, a soft cloth, and a respirator for safety.

1.     Clean the Rim

Begin by cleaning the rim thoroughly with soapy water and a sponge. This will help remove any dirt or grease that could interfere with the repair process. Dry the rim completely before proceeding.

2.     Sand the Damaged Area

Start with the 220-grit sandpaper, and gently sand the damaged area to remove any loose debris or flaking paint. Once the area is smooth, move on to the 400-grit sandpaper, and finally the 800-grit. Be careful not to over-sand, as this could cause more damage.

3.     Apply Spot Putty

Once the area is smooth and dry, apply the spot putty to the damaged area. Smooth it out so that it’s level with the rest of the rim. Allow the putty to dry according to the package instructions.

4.     Sand Again

Once the putty is dry, use the 800-grit sandpaper to smooth the area further. Be gentle to avoid removing too much putty.

5.     Prime, Paint, and Clear Coat

Apply a coat of primer to the area, and allow it to dry completely. Then, apply the paint in thin layers, allowing it to dry between each layer until the color matches the rest of the rim. Finally, apply a clear coat to protect the paint and add a glossy finish. Allow the rim to dry completely before using the vehicle.

This process will require patience and a bit of elbow grease, but it can restore your rims to a near-new appearance, all from the comfort of your home. However, for extensive damage, it’s best to consult a professional.

Can You Fix Curb Marks On Rims?

Yes, curb marks on the rims can be fixed. Depending on the severity of the damage, the repair process could range from simple at-home DIY fixes to professional rim repair services.

Minor scrapes and scratches can be addressed using sandpaper, putty, primer, and paint that matches your rim. If the damage is extensive or deep, a professional service might be needed to restore the rim to its original condition.

Is Curb Rash Worth Fixing?

Fixing curb rash is definitely worth considering for multiple reasons. From an aesthetic point of view, curb rash can make your vehicle look less attractive and well-cared-for, which could affect its resale value.

On a more practical note, if the curb rash is severe and left untreated, it could lead to further damage like rust, especially if the metal underneath the paint has been exposed. Over time, this could compromise the structural integrity of the rims, potentially leading to unsafe driving conditions.

Can Curbed Alloys Be Fixed?

Yes, curbed alloy wheels can indeed be repaired. Similar to other types of rims, the repair process involves sanding down the damaged area, using a filler if necessary, and then painting and sealing the rim.

However, alloy wheels may require a specialized paint to match the original finish, so you’ll need to ensure you have the correct materials before starting the repair. Severe damage to alloy wheels, such as deep gouges or dents that affect the shape of the rim, should be assessed by a professional repair service to ensure the wheel can be safely repaired and used.

How Can I Prevent Curb Rash?

Preventing curb rash primarily involves careful and attentive driving. Avoid brushing against curbs while parking or making sharp turns. Being aware of the size of your vehicle and taking extra care in narrow roadways or poor visibility conditions can also help.

Regularly checking your tire pressure can help too, as underinflated tires can lead to the rims being closer to the ground and thus more susceptible to curb rash.

Close up of man crouching on the gas station and inflating tire.

What Type Of Paint Should I Use When Fixing Curb Rash?

When fixing curb rash, it’s important to use paint that matches the color and finish of your rims. This might involve using a specialized wheel paint or alloy wheel paint, depending on the material of your rims. You can typically find these paints at an auto parts store or online.

Why Do I Need To Apply A Clear Coat After Painting The Repaired Area?

Applying a clear coat after painting the repaired area serves a couple of important purposes. First, it adds a layer of protection to the new paint, helping to prevent it from chipping or wearing away quickly. Second, it provides a glossy finish that can help the repaired area blend in with the rest of the rim.

Is Curb Rash More Common On Certain Types Of Vehicles?

Curb rash can occur on any vehicle, but it might be more common on larger vehicles or those with low-profile tires. Larger vehicles have more width to account for when parking or turning, and low-profile tires have less sidewall to protect the rim from curbs.

Can I Still Drive My Car If It Has Curb Rash?

Minor curb rash, like small scrapes or scratches, won’t affect your vehicle’s drivability. However, if the curb rash is severe and the rim has been bent or otherwise structurally compromised, it could potentially be unsafe to drive. In such cases, it’s best to have the rim assessed by a professional.

Why Is Curb Rash More Common In Urban Driving Conditions?

Driving on narrow road.

Curb rash is more common in urban driving conditions due to the prevalence of narrow roads and high curbs. Also, city driving often involves more parking maneuvers and sharp turns, both of which increase the risk of scraping the rims against the curb.

How Can I Tell If My Curb Rash Is Severe Enough To Warrant Professional Repair?

If your curb rash is deep enough to significantly alter the shape of your rim, or if it spans a large portion of the wheel, it’s probably best to seek professional repair. Furthermore, if you see any signs of cracking or feel any roughness while driving, these could be signs of structural damage, which should definitely be checked by a professional.

Does Repairing Curb Rash Affect The Balance Of The Wheel?

When properly repaired, curb rash should not affect the balance of the wheel. The repair process involves removing minimal material and adding lightweight fillers and paint. However, severe curb rash that alters the shape of the rim can affect the wheel’s balance and may require professional repair.

How Long Should I Wait Between Applying The Paint Layers When Repairing Curb Rash?

The waiting time between applying paint layers can depend on the specific paint brand and type you’re using, so it’s best to follow the instructions on the paint can. Generally, you might need to wait 10-30 minutes between coats to allow the paint to partially dry.

Can I Drive My Car Immediately After Repairing Curb Rash?

It’s recommended to wait until the clear coat has fully dried before driving your car. This could take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the specific product used. Driving before the clear coat has dried could lead to dirt or debris sticking to the fresh coat and spoiling the finish.


In conclusion, curb rash on rims is a common issue that many vehicle owners encounter. While it might seem like a minor cosmetic problem, if left untreated, it can lead to more significant damage and costs over time.

Fortunately, minor curb rash can be easily repaired at home with a bit of time and patience. Remember to drive attentively and carefully to prevent curb rash and maintain the appearance and integrity of your vehicle’s rims.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!