Friday, April 22, 2016

Ten Tips for Customizing Hot Wheels

Customizing Tip #1 – Taking your Hot Wheels car apart.

Hot Wheels cars are held together with one or two rivets. You will need to use a drill to drill out the rivet head. Start with a 1/16 drill bit to make a guide hole. This is not mandatory, but it does make it a bit easier. If you don’t, then when you use the larger drill bit to drill out the rest of the rivet, the bit will tend to wander and then you have a tendency to drill down one side of the rivet head more than the other. So one side is loose and the other side is still being held on. Trust me, it’s just easier. After you’ve made the guide hole, then use a 3/16 bit to grind the rivet head away. After that you can just pull the car apart. A small flat head screwdriver may come in handy to wedge in between the car body and the chassis.

Customizing Tip #2 - Keeping things in place.

When customizing cars JB Weld is your best friend. There are two versions you might use, the original JB Weld and JB Kwik Weld. JB Kwik Weld works great and dries much faster than the original. JB Weld is a two part epoxy. JB Kwik Weld sets up quick, so you don’t have as much time to work with it as the original JB weld, but that’s kind of nice for putting Hot Wheels cars back together, because we’re not using that much and don’t need much time to work with it. And because it sets up quicker, you don’t have to wait around as long before handling the car. It will hold anything in place that you need to glue down. You can use it to “glue” custom parts onto your car. You can use it to “glue” weights into your car for speed. You can use it to “glue” new axles into your car. It’s also what we will use to “glue” our car back together. JB Kwik Weld it the best thing you can use to keep things in place when customizing a Hot Wheels car.

Customizing Tip #3 – Putting your Hot Wheels car back together.

After you finish customizing your car, it's time to put it back together. Make sure you get all the parts back in, including seats, engine, windshield, etc. and then put the body on the chassis. One of the best ways to “glue” your car back together is to use JB Kwik Weld. This stuff is awesome. And we’re not going to put it just anywhere. We are going to make new rivet heads. You want to do this, because it will be easy to get your car back apart if you need to. Simply grind down the JB rivet head with a drill just like you did the original. Squeeze out equal amounts from both tubes and then mix together. I usually just use an old Hot Wheels card to put the JB Kwik on and then a toothpick to stir it. Once you’ve mixed them together completely, use the toothpick to put a little bit on the rivet to make a new rivet head. Simple as that! And remember, if you ever need to get the car back apart drill out the JB Weld "rivet head" just like the original rivet head.

Customizing Tip #4 - Applying JB Kwik Weld.

Because of the small size of Hot Wheels cars, applying JB Kwik Weld can be tricky trying to get it right where you want it and not smearing it all over. Some of the following ideas may come in handy for applying JB Kwik Weld.
  • Toothpicks – Their small size makes them ideal for applying small amounts of JB Kwik Weld to your car. However, those with large hands may find toothpicks difficult to work with. 
  • Popsicle Sticks – Popsicle sticks or craft sticks as they are called when you buy them in bulk at the craft store can be shaped very easily with sanding and scissors which makes them a very versatile tool when it comes to applying JB Kwik Weld. 
  • Coffee Stirrers – Coffee Stirrers are great because they are pretty thin and you can easily cut them at an angle for a nice fine point. 
  • Q-tips – Q-tips can work very well if you cut them in half at an angle for a nice fine point. You can use the stick part to apply the JB Kwik Weld and then you can use the cotton part to do any cleaning if needed. 
  • Another thing that you want to have on hand are paper towels. No matter how careful you are, you’ll probably need a few for wiping and cleaning.

Customizing Tip #5 – Painting your Hot Wheels Car.

First you need to take your car apart. (See Customizing Tip #1) Once you have your car apart you can use paint stripper to strip off the original paint. (For paint stripping tips, see Customizing Tip #6) Once you're down to bare metal you're ready to paint. Don’t mess with paint brushes. You need to spray the paint on. Prime your car with a spray primer. It takes time to paint a car well. Don’t do heavy coats. They will start to run and your paint job won’t look good. Do light coats, which means that you will have to do more coats and that takes time. In between coats of primer you can do some light sanding with 1000 grit or higher sandpaper. Once you‘ve got it primed and smooth you’re ready to put the paint on. If you have an airbrush, you can use just about any paint you want. But if you don’t, you’re kind of limited to what you can find in a spray can. However, there are lots of places you can find great paint. If you’re not too picky, check out the paint section at Walmart, Kmart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Also check the automotive departments at places like Walmart and Automotive stores. They usually have spray cans of paint that match car manufacture colors Some of them are great colors and even metallic. You can check out hobby and craft shops for paint, and of course, you can find some great paint online in spray cans if you’re willing to pay for shipping and wait a few days for it to arrive. Remember, same thing as with the primer. Apply many light coats instead of fewer heavy coats. Then the paint won’t run and you’ll avoid drips. Depending on what kind of paint you used, you can also apply a clear coat finish to protect and give your car some extra shine. However, I’ve found that when I use the nicer automotive paints, the finish is great just the way it is and I don’t use the clear coat.

Customizing Tip #6 – Using paint stripper.

You can get paint stripper in two different forms. Spray on cans and cans you can pour out. Myself, I prefer the pour out kind. In my opinion the spray cans are just a bit too messy. With the pour out kind, stripping a car is super easy. Just pour some stripper into a quart jar, maybe halfway full or so. Next fill up another jar or bucket with water. Take the part of the car that you want to strip the paint off of and dip it into the jar of paint stripper. Bend a piece of wire or a coat hanger to put the car on when dipping it. I bend the top of the wire as well, so it can kind of hang on the edge of the jar. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. When you pull it out the paint should just slide right off. Now dip it into the jar or bucket of water to rinse it off. Kind of swish it around in the water. Next take it out and put it in a large bucket or bowl of water where you have some room to work. In the bucket, take a brush and use it to remove any extra paint or gunk that may be left in the cracks. Dry it off and you should have a clean bare metal body ready for painting. The nice thing about this method is that you should be able to reuse the paint stripper for quite a few cars. Just put a lid on it and save it for the next car.

One thing that I would really like to stress when working with paint stripper is to be safe. Always make sure you use protective gloves and wear safety goggles/glasses.

Customizing Tip #7 - Holding your Hot Wheels car while you paint.

Here is a handy way to hold your car while you paint it. It will help you get everywhere you need to paint, but not paint your hand, and not have to put it down and worry about wet paint sticking to what you put your car on. First get a ⅜ inch dowel stick. Cut the dowel stick to height that would be comfortable for you to paint at. I usually make mine a foot or two depending on what I’m going to set my car on to paint. Next slide a battery clip over the end of dowel stick. You may have to bend the metal part of the clip a bit to make it more round. The ⅜ inch dowel will fit in, though it may be a bit tight. Use a ⅜ inch drill bit to drill a hole in a piece of wood to hold the dowel. Now you have a perfect extra hand to hold your Hot Wheels cars while painting.

Customizing Tip #8 - Sharpies.

After painting your car, Sharpies work great for touching up wheels and other parts of your car. I use them for small detail parts. I’ve used them on headlights/brake lights, mirrors, door handles, license plates and other small detail parts. The metallic ones are great for the wheels.

Customizing Tip #9 - Swapping axles.

Swapping axles can be done for looks or for speed. First you’re going to need to take both cars apart, the car you’re customizing and the donor car. See Customizing Tip #1 for help taking the car apart. Usually there will be some small tabs holding the axles in place. If it is a plastic base then you’re getting off easy. You can cut the tabs with a razor blade or use some small side cutters to cut the tabs. Or if you have a small flat head screwdriver, you can use it to pry the tabs back. If it is a metal base, then it’s a bit more tricky. You can try bend back the tabs with a small screwdriver or you can try the side cutters, but I’m usually not very successful with either one of those. Usually I just use my Dremel and grind down the tabs. I wouldn’t consider it a very elegant or easy way, but it’s the best way I’ve found so far. You need to be very careful if it’s the donor car so that you don’t ruin the axle or the wheels that you are going to be using. Once you have the axles out of the cars you can “glue” the donor axle into the car you are customizing. Use JB Kwik Weld to “glue” the axles in and keep them in place.

Customizing Tip #10 - Keeping axles in place.

Sometimes when using JB Kwik Weld to “glue” the axles in they still come loose, particularly with metal bases. Usually this is because there is mold release on the car from when it was manufactured. It makes the JB Kwik Weld not stick as well to the metal. To help with this you can use Alcohol to clean the metal base before gluing the axles down. Another method is to drill a small hole in the middle of the axle slot right underneath where the axle will sit. Push JB Kwik through the hole, then put more on the bottom of the base to create a "rivet head" on the bottom of the base. Next put the axle down with more JB Kwik Weld on top of it.


  1. Some of these tips , I've adopted on my own and some were things I haven't thought of. Good stuff , thanks.

  2. a very useful ways to customizing and fixing die-cast cars. though i am not that clear with the customizing tip #3, the parts where make a new rivet with the JB Weld. care to explain in pictures, please?

  3. thank for tips my hotwheels are going to look nice๐ŸŽ️๐Ÿฆ•

  4. i took apart 30 hot wheels in 30 minutes, and the whole process together took about an hour.


Popular Posts