How do you know if a wheel bearing needs replacing?

Wheel bears often make a fair bit of noise when they are on their way out. Usually you will notice a humming type sound when you are driving the vehicle and this may get louder at certain speeds. Another way to check a wheel bearing is to jack the wheel up and try and move it from side to side and up and down. If you can feel a lot of play in the wheel and it moves then the wheel bearing probably needs replacing.

If you take your car in to a garage they will easily be able to check if a bearing needs to be changed. The job usually takes around a couple of hours and can cost anything from £100 upwards of £300 depending what vehicle you have and where you take it to get the repairs done. Although it may seem like a relatively easy job to do, it isn’t if you do not have all the right equipment so it is better to have it done at a garage. You may be able to find a garage that will allow you to purchase the part yourself and them fit it for you, but be aware that if the part fails then you will need to fork out for the labour costs to get it replaced again as it will not be covered by the warranty.

Do you know where your locking wheel nut is?

You may notice that you need a new tyre fitted to your vehicle or that your brakes need to be replaced. When taking your car to a garage to have any work that involves removing the wheel, often one of the first questions they will ask you is if you have got the locking wheel nut.

Locking wheel nuts are special nuts that are inserted through your wheels which secure them to the vehicle. To undo the nuts you need the corresponding locking nut, and without it, it is very difficult to take them off. It can be done, either with a universal locking nut key or you may have to pay quite a bit extra to have them broken off which can risk damaging the wheel and then pay again for a new set. All four will need to be removed ideally at the same time. Cars are often fitted with locking wheel nuts to prevent the wheels being stolen. Since the use of these, the drop in this sort of crime has gone down drastically.  Often cars with expensive alloys would be targeted and then the wheels then sold on. Make sure that if you buy a car you have the locking wheel nut and keep it in the vehicle in a safe place.


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.