Custom alloy wheels can add a lot of flash to your car, particularly if you decide to change out to a larger wheel. But they do require a little extra care and attention. Here are some of the main considerations for installing and maintaining custom alloy wheels. It’s a good idea to discuss the following with your tire installer before they begin changing the tires. If they don’t have the experience or correct equipment, you should consider choosing a different service location.
- Aftermarket custom wheels usually have a high amount of aluminum in the alloy. This material, and the various types of finishing are not as durable as the steel wheels that came original equipment on your vehicle.
- Alloy custom wheels are lighter, dissipate heat better, and can be molded or forged into a huge variety of styles and design variations.
- Attention must be taken during installation. Your tire installer needs the experience to know that painted, chromed, or machined wheels are far more susceptible to scratches, scrapes and bending compared to the steel wheels.
- The service location needs to have up-to-date mounting and balancing equipment to handle custom alloy wheels. Check to see if the “duck head” on the mounting machine is plastic or coated.The duck head is the clamp that is inserted between the wheel and the tire, and turns around the rim during the mount and dismount procedure.The clamps that attach the wheel to the machine should also be coated to avoid scratches that inevitably happen with metal on metal.
- Tire beads must be thoroughly lubricated during the mounting process. If the tire beads don’t seat on the wheel at 40 psi, the tire technician should stop the process and re-lubricate the beads. Too much force on the tire with a tire bar could lead to damage.
- Ask that tape weights are used instead of clip-on weights to balance the tire. Tape style weights are positioned in the barrel of the wheel and are not as visible clip-on wheel weights, are more firmly fixed to the wheel, and are more resistant to corrosion.
- Alloy wheels should be cleaned on a regular basis. If you live in an area where salt and chemical solutions are used on the roads in the winter, it is particularly important to wash your wheels every week with soap and a soft brush.
So, to protect your new tires and aftermarket wheel investment, ask plenty of questions of your tire installer, choose a service location with experienced mechanics and up-to-date equipment, and keep your new wheels looking great with regular cleaning.