Alloys add a level of glamour and style to any vehicle. Most new vehicles, even entry level vehicles have alloys, and they do have benefits – they are lighter, they improve the vehicle’s performance, and improve the quality of the ride. Alloy wheels are however one of the most neglected aspects of vehicle maintenance. Poorly maintained wheels reduce the aesthetic and actual alue of the vehicle, damaged alloys are a safety risk to owners and other road users. Here are some ways to preserve your alloy wheels and keep them ready for the road and at their best.
The easiest way to damage your alloy wheels is to allow any form of contact with the kerb edge when parking. Kerbing causes ugly scratches and gouges around the edge of the rims. To avoid dinging your alloys when parking consider lowering the kerbside mirror as you approach to see exactly where your rear wheel is, allowing you to position your vehicle close without causing damage.
2. Road Hazards
- Be especially alert when driving in rain. Water seeps into a road surface imperfection / crack which breaks up the road surface around it, causing the crack to expand into a full-blown pothole. Smaller potholes / imperfections have the tendency to become significantly deep and dangerous.
- If you cannot avoid driving on poorly surfaced roads, you need to drive at low speeds. When you drive over a pothole at high speeds, you increase the risk of extensively damaging your tyres and wheel.
- Watch the cars ahead of you to see if they swerve to avoid any obstacles to avoid hitting obvious dangers such as potholes, kerbs, raised manhole covers and debris.
- Be aware of rainy periods, water seeps into a crack breaking up the concrete around it, causing the crack to expand into a full-blown pothole or smaller potholes become significantly deep and dangerous.
- Avoid puddles, specifically on potholed roads or after rain. What seems to be a puddle could be concealing a pothole or worse still a sinkhole.
- If you hit a sneaky pothole, or you have no alternative but to hit it, try to drive through it as it will spread out any damage evenly across the whole wheel, whereas slamming a brake-locked wheel into it will concentrate the force of the impact on a particular area, which is more likely to cause significant damage to the wheel.
- Potholes do not only cause damage to the wheels, the impact can destabilise your vehicle, which may result in an accident. They also cause early suspension wear and damage to various parts of your vehicle. Make it a routine practice to have your tyres and wheels professionally checked after driving on potholed roads.
3. Wheel Nuts / Lugs
If you remove the locking wheel nuts using the wrong tool, damage to the alloy wheels may be inevitable. Ensure that when fastening or removing the wheel nuts the correct tools are used. Damage from using the wrong tools will invalidate any warranties regarding the wheel’s paintwork.
4. Improper inflation of tyres
Under-inflation is one of the leading causes of tyre failure. If tyre pressure is too low, too much of the tyre’s surface area touches the road, which increases friction. Increased friction can cause the tyres to overheat, which can lead to premature wear, tread separation and blowouts. Ensure you have your tyre pressure checked regularly by professionals.
5. Using the incorrect cleaning material
Abrasive brushes with sharp bristles may result in damage. Ensure you only use the appropriate cleaning material, such as a soft-bristled wheel brush that cleans the wheel without causing any damage. The incorrect cleaning material may cause score marks, scratches, and swirls that can reduce the value of your rims and vehicle. Damage from using the incorrect cleaning materials will invalidate any warranties regarding the wheel’s paintwork.