Should I Get New Tires Put On My Wheels Before Or After I Have Them Painted? 

At Salt City Wheels, we think wheels and rims are just the bees knees (and they also happen to be our beesness!), so seeing avoidable damage to beautifully designed rims is, to say the least, perturbing. Thank goodness our skilled mobile wheel repair experts have the experience and know-how to fix this damage and restore your wheels to their former glory!

We’ve had countless clients come to us with perfectly-painted wheels covered in unnecessary scratches as a result of over-enthusiastic tire-installers. So we decided it was time to set the record straight about a commonly-asked question: should I get new tires put on my wheels before or after I have them painted? Prepare yourself for some epic wheel geekery…..!

The reality is that taking tires off and putting them back on is always really hard on the wheels, even in best of circumstances. So even if circumstances are otherwise ideal, tire changes can cause damage to wheels. If you simply MUST replace your tires after getting the rims painted, at least try to wait a few days after painting to allow the chemicals in the paint to fully harden, which should hopefully minimize any damage from installer abrasion.

How does this damage usually happen? Tire machines use a device called a ‘duckhead’ (sounds cute, right?) that goes against the wheel to remove the tire. If you’ve ever had to replace the inner tube on your bicycle wheel, it works in a similar way to the flathead screwdriver you use to separate the outer tire from the wheel. The duckhead pries the tire over itself to get it over the rim, so the duckhead obviously has to run across the surface of the wheel. Bear in mind that vehicle tires (especially high-performance tires) are not easygoing and pliable like bicycle tires and a duckhead is not small and maneuverable like a screwdriver. If it’s an old duckhead that has manhandled many tires and mangled itself into a rough surface in the process, or if it has no protective pads, these factors alone can easily scratch the wheel, in addition to the the metal-on-metal madness that the duckhead itself introduces. 

Sounds like scratches are a foregone conclusion, right? Well, not necessarily. Reading a tire shop’s reviews on Yelp or Google Reviews can give you a good idea of their track record, but in general, a tire shop that is taking tires off and putting them on all day every day is often your best bet for the most careful, skilled tire removal and replacement. In our experience, most Discount Tires shops (otherwise known as America’s Tire in California) have a pretty good record of not hopelessly scratching up your wheels. But no matter how good the shop is, mistakes can and will happen - and sadly, more often than not. 

Even manufacturer or dealership shops can’t always be relied upon to be gentle or careful - remember, this is essentially a grunt job in a shop, so it’s always the youngest, newest mechanic trainees who end up doing the work. Just because you take the vehicle to a BMW or Mercedes dealership doesn’t guarantee that your wheels will escape lightly. If damage does occur while the tires are being taken off or put back on, it’s rare that a shop will own up to causing the damage and pay for repairs. You may be able to give yourself some degree of protection by going round before the work is started and taking a photo of each wheel when you take the vehicle to the shop, making sure the mechanic or whoever has checked you in sees what you are doing. The photos will be date and time-stamped, and the vehicle is inarguably at the tire shop, so any damage after that time will clearly have been caused by the shop staff. 

If your wheel has been damaged but you were also hoping to get new tires AND a new paint job, what order should you have these done in? If the vehicle is driveable, get the tires replaced first. Salt City Wheels’ skilled repair specialists will take them off carefully, repair any bend or damage, replace the tires, and then paint the rims in whatever finish you want. This service includes the dismount, remount and balancing of the tires, so you can be sure your wheels won’t just look great, they’ll perform perfectly afterwards too.

The bottom line is: if you are planning to get new tires, have them put on BEFORE you have your rims painted. You’ll save yourself a whole lot of unnecessary frustration.

If you’ve just had new tires put on and your wheels are looking slightly worse for wear, or if you’re ready for a gorgeous new paint job, give the Utah mobile wheel repair experts at Salt City Wheels a call today at 801 425 3044 to schedule your FREE wheel repair consultation.