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How to Paint ATV Wheels

Apply an etching primer before you paint.
black atv image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from Fotolia.com

You can alter the appearance of your all-terrain vehicle's wheels by finishing them with the right kind of paint. Before you dive into the application process, you should know some critical points. ATV wheels are made of metal, a surface that is not conducive for paint adhesion. You must treat the wheels with a special primer, formulated with the ability to etch metal. Once they are appropriately prepared, the wheels will accept new paint. You should select a particular coating that will remain durable in exterior environments.

Things You'll Need:

  • Coarse Plastic Brush
  • Masking Paper
  • Pressure Washer
  • Heavy-Duty Fabric Drop Cloths
  • Professional Painter'S Tape
  • Oil-Based Spray Enamel
  • Galvanized Metal Etching Spray Primer
  • Trisodium Phosphate Cleanser

Scrub the ATV wheels with a trisodium phosphate cleanser using a plastic brush. Use a pressure washer to rinse the wheels and wait two to four hours until they dry.

Drive or push the all terrain vehicle onto fabric drop cloths.

Protect the tires from primer and paint over spray by covering them with painter's tape and masking paper.

Apply a coat of galvanized metal etching spray primer. Maintain a distance of eight inches between the ATV wheels and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait four hours for the primed wheels to dry.

Apply a coat of oil-based spray enamel. Maintain a distance of eight inches between the ATV wheels and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait six hours before operating the all-terrain vehicle.


Apply a second coat if you can see the etching primer flashing through.


  • Many amateur do-it-yourselfers undervalue the cleaning process. Be sure to thoroughly eliminate oil, grease and dirt or you will have adhesion problems. Do not paint directly over unprimed ATV wheels, or the finish will peel. Never use a plain latex, oil-based or acrylic primer on ATV wheels, or the finish will chip.
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