Ultimate Wheel Maintenance Guide
Your Guide To Maintaining Wheels
Wheels are an integral part of the vehicle, not only do they provide visual appeal, they also hold the tire in place and withstand the weight of the entire vehicle. The tire or rubber that wraps around the wheels form a single point of contact with the road and directly influences the fuel economy, ride quality, and handling performance of your rig. Thus, a well-maintained set of wheels is crucial for optimal vehicle performance.
Despite being such a vital part, wheels are often neglected and deprived of service, which ultimately causes damage to brake, steering and suspension components, early tire wear and increased fuel consumption, among other problems. All of these can lead to expensive diagnosis and repairs.
Table Of Contents
1. Important Factors For Wheel Care And Maintenance
1.1. Wheel Balancing
The handling dynamics of a car are an attribute of its suspension system, weight distribution, wheelbase, track and other parameters that are more or less beyond the control of the customer after the purchase of the car. In order to prevent the car from losing its edge over time, you will need to keep the wheels perfectly balanced. Unbalanced wheels can have an immediate effect on driving and handling and may cause uneven tire wear over a prolonged period. In the long run, damaged suspension and steering components can also trigger costly maintenance bills.
The wheels (combination of the rim and tire) therefore play a critical role in the overall dynamics of the vehicle. As the wheel assembly rotates around the center, the centrifugal forces operate at the center of the axle and everything works naturally well if the wheels are properly balanced. However, even with high-precision wheel production processes, weight imbalances cannot be prevented, which can shift the effective center/axis of rotation of the wheel assemblies causing bouncing, wobble, etc., thus affecting handling performance. Apart from handling performance, wheel balancing is critical for safety, because when the car loses a stable base, it will act/react to various forces badly.
1.2. Tire Replacement
Reluctance to forgo old tires is one of the major reasons for wheel damages. This is because many think their tires are usable and have enough tread left even if their tires are very old. As a general rule, regular inspection is necessary starting from 40,000 miles of use or after 3-4 years. Most manufacturers recommend replacing tires that are more than 6 years old.
1.3. Wheel Bearing Replacement
Wheel bearings are present in the wheel hubs that enable the wheels to move freely with minimal friction. These metal bearings lose the ability to spin freely when worn out. In such a case you can note excessive noise, vibration and other problems leading to poor ride quality and excessive wear of other suspension parts.
2. How To Extend The Life Of Your Wheels?
2.1. Avoiding Curbs
2.2. Proper Cleaning & Washing
Always use the right materials to wash and clean your wheels. Steel wool can damage the wheel, and certain cleaners are acidic in nature, which can remove the protective layer of the wheels, resulting in corrosion. A combination of non-acidic cleaner and water with vigorous scrubbing with a plastic brush is the best way to clean your rims.
2.3. Preparing Your Wheel For Winters
People living in areas that experience heavy snowfall and harsh winters understand the importance of using winter/snow tires in snowy weather. While attention to the right set of tires is crucial, many pay little attention to the condition of their wheels. Regular interaction with ice, water and road salt can induce corrosion and impact the structural rigidity of steel wheels. While alloy wheels don't rust, they can get scraped or lose protective coatings, leading to damage. Thus, it is advisable to have two sets of wheels in such regions so that both sets can last longer and serve better. Your primary all-year wheels can be alloys, while steel wheels would be a more economical choice for winter tires. Steel wheels are cheaper and less prone to damage upon impact. They are also easier to repair & provide balance of performance and ride quality ideal for the winter months. Learn more about why dedicated steel wheels with winter tires are a perfect match during winter in our wheel construction article.