Replacing steels with alloys

I recently had a situation where one of my steel wheels got damaged and I needed to replace it. I scoured the internet and was surprised to find that it was going to cost about £40-£50 for a new one. I did manage to find a few used ones online but was dubious about the condition of them. After visiting a few scrap yards I found that they often had sets of alloy wheels in that would fit on my car. After finding a set that I liked I. was pleasantly surprised to be quoted £50 for a set of alloys with tyres and 3 of the tyres had a decent amount of tread on the.

If you do add alloy wheels to your car, you may need to notify the insurance company as they will often class it as a modification. This may increase your premium so it is worth checking this prior to adding them on.


Refurbishing your alloy wheels

Alloy wheels over time become scuffed, damaged and even corroded so it may be necessary to refurbish them. Many places offer this service, some will refurbish the wheels and keep the car in whilst doing it, others may ask you to remove the wheels and send them in to them.

There are a few methods of refurbishing alloy wheels and one is called sand blasting. The wheel is always removed from the vehicle, often then the wheel is chemically stripped down and it can then be inspected for damage such as cracks. The repairs are then carried out to the wheel and once complete the whole wheel is blasted clean. Usually the wheel will then undergo a process of priming, painting and lacquering to get the wheel back to the correct colour. New values are fitted to the tyres and then the process is complete.

Some alloys may have cosmetic damage which is easily rectified whilst others may be damaged too much to be repaired.

Cleaning your wheels and tyres

Treat your alloys and tyres with the respect they deserve. Cleaning your tyres is a great time to check for any uneven wear (this could be a sign of over/under inflation or bad wheel alignment) and damage (screws in the tread that could be causing a slow puncture or damage to the side wall which could cause dangerous blow outs). Brake dust can damage some wheel surfaces so regular cleaning is a must.
Make sure your wheels are cold before cleaning and wear gloves. Spray on an alloy wheel cleaner, making sure it’s compatible with your wheel finish, wetting all visible surfaces. Work this in to all areas with a wheel cleaning brush to avoid scratches. Don’t let it dry before you rinse it off. While your there, clean under the wheel arches with a stiff brush. Once it’s all hosed off, use a tyre dressing for a professional finish. You can apply an alloy sealing compound to protect from brake dust.

Checking your wheels for damage

People are often aware that they need to check their tyres for damage, but how many of us check our wheels? Wheels can be steel or alloy and both can suffer structural damage that can cause the driver to have an accident.

Checking your wheels is not as easy as checking tyres and often to carry out an thorough inspect, you need to remove them from the car. If you are having new tyres fitted to the car, the tyre fitters should check the wheel for signs of visual damage, but it is advised to ask them to do so and report back to you anything they find.

People assume that if they have a flat tyre that they have a puncture, but sometimes this is not the case. It may actually be the rim of the wheel that is damaged and not making a seal, allowing air to leak out.

Changing the wheels on your car

If you want to improve the look of your car you may chose to change the wheels for either alloys or if you already have alloys, change them for bigger ones of those of a different style. Alloy wheels can be expensive and you should consider this before deciding to upgrade them. You can of course buy second hand alloy wheels for your car, but be sure to check for not only surface damage but for more serious damage to the rim or the reverse. You will also need to inform your insurance company of any non standard alloy wheels that are added so as not to invalidate your warranty. This can increase your premium as the insurance company will now class the car as having modifications, so be sure to get a quote prior to changing your wheels. Putting bigger wheels on any car will most probably affect the drive of the vehicle and can put unnecessary strain on other parts of the car.