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'99 Outback dark green/sandstone 99,000 miles.
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, new friends. I've just purchased a '99 Legacy Outback which looks terrific (and was highly praised by my mechanic). It was well cared for in and out with one exception which I can't blame the former owner for. I can't figure out why the wheel covers have these bumpy,lumpy areas on all four covers or what to do to deal with it. On close inspection it looks like the metal had some type of clear plastic sealant put on..I would guess, by the factory...it's peeled away or is chipping off...you can still pick at the edges and it flakes off...I would assume that over time road salt caused the blistering that I'm seeing but it's not pretty and I want to fix it somehow or, just bite the bullett, and replace them. It bothers me now that the rest of the car is sparkling bright. I admit it...I didn't even notice the corrosion, or whatever it is, when I was looking to buy it. Are you guys familiar with the problem? Should I try sanding it off? Have a professional restore them or pitch 'em ?
 

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2017 OutBack Premier, 2019 Forester Ltd, 2016 370z Rdstr
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marilynsuzanne,

I suspect that the clear coat is the culprit that is peeling, due to poor surface preparation before it was sprayed on.

You can remove it with paint stripper, if you're careful and quick. Get the brush on paint stripper, a couple of throw away paint brushes with wooden handles (the plastic ones will melt) and natural bristles. Wear eye protection, and have a garden hose with a spray attachment handy.

First off, the stripper may attack the plastic wheel cover itself if left on too long. If the covers are metal, there is no concern. Be prepared to work quickly on the plastic covers. Brush on the stripper, wait for it to lift and bubble the clear coat. It may also lift the silver base coat underneath as well. You'll have to decide how far you want to go ... just the clear or the silver as well.

When the stripper appears to have stalled (no longer bubbling the paint off), spray the cover with water as you use another brush to wash off the residue and neutralize the process. Then repeat the process until you like the results. Get most of the water off before you try the next stripper application, as it neutralizes the stripper.

When you have the covers as clean as possible, sand them with 0000 steel wool to rough them up, and give the new coat of paint some adhesion. Then buy a spray can of Steel Wheels (a nice silver wheel paint) from Napa or Pep Boys, or ... and repaint them.
 

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'99 Outback dark green/sandstone 99,000 miles.
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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I stopped at a Subie dealer's service department today and he used my VIN number to look up the manufacturing records for my car. He said that the covers are aluminum and have a center cap. It is the clear coat that has deteriorated. Do you think the stripper is ok on aluminum? I've used paint stripper a lot of times on wood furniture so I'm familiar with that but I've never tried it on any kind of metal.
 

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2017 OutBack Premier, 2019 Forester Ltd, 2016 370z Rdstr
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705 Posts
Yes, you can use the stripper on aluminum. They do it all the time when painting aircraft.
Good Luck!
 
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