Using Plasti Dip to Blackout the 4Runner’s Wheels – Everything you need to know!
Plasti Dip has long been used to quickly and easily change the color of various components on vehicles, both plastic, and metal.
If you love the look of black wheels but are stuck on stock alloys, you have a couple of options. You can either buy a new seat of wheels, you can have your stock wheels powder coated, or go the DIY Plasti Dip route.
When considering the options, I narrowed it down to either powder coating or Plasti Dip.
I didn’t really consider buying new wheels because I love the look of the stock Trail Wheels, especially after removing the center cap. The exposed bolt pattern and hub gives the Trail wheels a surprisingly nice tactical look, even more so once blacked out!
What you’ll need:
- 4 or 5 Cans of Plasti Dip: Check Today’s Price
- 8-10 Plastic Bags
- Wheel Cleaner: Check Today’s Price
- Bucket of Hot Water
- Lots of Patience
- 4-5 Hours of Total Time
- 1 or 2 Decks of Cards (Optional)
- Painters Masking Tape (Optional)
Keep Wheels On or Remove Them?
There are a few different ways to approach Plasti Dipping your wheels.
If you ask 10 people how to do it, you’ll likely get 10 different answers…however, the common thread is that this process takes patience and you really need to apply about 4-6 coats to each wheel for the best results.
At the time I dipped my wheels, I did not have jack stands.
The thought of removing every single wheel one at a time was absurd and seemed like the whole process would end up taking nearly 2 full days, so I kept the wheels on the truck.
If you do keep your wheels on the truck, you will end up coating your lug nuts too for a fully blacked out look.
However, it’s important to note that Plasti Dipped lug nuts can become scratched during tire rotations or whenever wheels need to be removed for other mods.
Tape Off the Sidewalls or Deck of Cards Trick???
Taping off the sidewalls is exactly what it sounds like… completely cover the sidewalls with painter’s masking tape so that no overspray contacts the rubber tires.
Therefore no tedious overspray removal should be necessary.
The “Deck of Cards” trick is easy too, take a deck of cards, slip the cards one-by-one between the wheel and the rubber tire… essentially creating a protective fence or ring around the wheel which should prevent overspray from contacting the rubber tire.
Word to the wise definitely uses one of these preparation methods.
I did not tape off my sidewalls or use the deck of cards trick. As a result, the Plasti Dip overspray was really challenging to get off the sidewalls.
If you were dipping some wheels with low profile performance tires on them and very little lettering and knubs, peeling off overspray would be A LOT easier.
However, with any AT or Mud tires, peeling off overspray from the sidewalls was extremely tedious and difficult due to all the knubs and larger raised-up lettering.
A microfiber utility towel and lots of elbow grease will get the overspray off, but I certainly ruined a couple of good utility towels in the process and my fingers hurt like hell after rubbing sidewalls for 90 mins straight.
Even then, I still couldn’t get 100% of the overspray removed from my Nitto Ridge Grapplers.
STEP 1: Clean Your Wheels With Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner
Before you start, clean your wheels with a high-quality wheel cleaner such as Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner.
Make sure your wheels are completely clean from brake dust, dirt, or debris. Also, make sure there is no cleaning residue on the wheels before you start the process.
STEP 2: Bag Up the Wheels
Cover your rotors and brake calipers with plastic baggies.
Any grocery store style plastic baggie ought to suffice. It will take 2-3 bags per wheel to get full coverage so the Plasti Dip doesn’t coat your rotors and calipers.
STEP 3: Tape Your Sidewalls With Painter’s Tape, Seriously
(I did not originally do this step… DO IT!!!!)
Tape off your sidewalls with painter’s masking tape OR use the Deck of Cards trick to prevent overspray and save your self the hassle of overspray removal….or do both!!!
STEP 4: Warm Up the Plasti Dip
Warm the Plasti Dip in a 5-gallon bucket with hot water from the tap. 3-5 mins of warming per can should be sufficient.
NOTE: Don’t use boiling water, it doesn’t need to be that hot! Warming the Plasti Dip cans will expand the plastic dip material inside the can allowing for a better spray and more consistent coverage.
STEP 5: Begin the Coating Process…
- Be sure the can is warm and shake it a good 30-60 seconds before every application! The first coat should be applied pretty thin and evenly. You were to aim for about 50% thickness for the first coat. Let it dry for 30-40 minutes. This provides an initial base coat for the rest of the dip to be applied. You will still see the metal wheels after the first coat and this is OK.
- Apply a 2nd coat, fairly wet and evenly. Avoid applying it to the point where it drips or clumps. After the 2nd coat, you should not really be able to see the metal wheel showing through the plastic dip. Let dry 30-40 minutes.
- Apply the 3rd Coat just like the 2nd coat and let it dry.
- After 3 coats, this is a great time to rotate your wheels about 180º. Rotating the wheels 180º allows for the next 2 or 3 coats to even out any areas that weren’t getting full coverage.
- With the wheels rotated about 180º, apply the 4th and 5th coat just the same as the 2nd and 3rd coats. Be sure to be patient and let each coat dry 30-40 mins. The Plasti Dip should not appear wet before you put on the next coat. Applying the next coat before the previous coat dries can lead to a clumpy, fuzzy, or uneven final look.
- Once all coats are finished and dried, remove plastic baggies and the masking tape (and/or deck of cards)
- If you do find overspray on the sidewalls, a microfiber utility towel will help remove the Plasti Dip, however, it takes quite a bit of rubbing and your microfiber towel may be ruined in the process.
Plasti Dip Gloss and Sealant Coats
Gloss and Sealant coats of Plasti Dip are available and can change the final look of your wheels if you prefer.
Although not required, a gloss or sealant coat can theoretically lengthen the life of your newly dipped wheels.
You can either leave your dip matte black or apply a Gloss or Sealant coat or two at the end just like the main coats of dip. I finished my wheels with 6 coats of matte black Plasti Dip (it took 5 cans, not 4) and no Gloss or Sealant.
Before Blackout Plasti Dip
Plasti Dip is the lowest cost and relatively quick option for blacking out your wheels.
When completed, it should only take probably 4-5 hours of your time depending on how many coats you choose to apply.
Powder Coating will probably cost $200-$400 for a set of 4 wheels and obviously requires the wheels to be removed from the truck as well as the tires from the wheels.
That could put your truck down without wheels for 1-2 full days.
…And After – Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Purchasing a new set of black wheels is likely the highest cost option, but probably the quickest option as far as labor time is concerned.
It really should take no longer than an hour or so at a tire shop to have your wheels swapped, including mounting and balance of the new ones.
If done properly and patiently, Plasti Dipped wheels should last about 2 or maybe 3 years before the dip begins to just out and potentially even start peeling off.
Climate and wear/tear can, of course, have a great impact on the life of Plasti Dip…so do keep that in mind.
I’ve had my wheels dipped for about 12 months now including 1.5 winters with copious amounts of snow/ice and road salt…and I can say the coating is holding up well so far.
The look is great and the process wasn’t that difficult.