What’s so significant about a putting on a set of knockoff wire wheels? Nothing, if you know how to bolt them up. If you’ve never bolted on a set of knockoffs, you better pay attention as you could very easily lose your wheels when cruising down the boulevard.
If you buy a set of imported knockoff wheels, they will not come with instructions. The manufacturers don’t think that you need them. Well, some of these manufacturers should think twice. There are many consequences if you bolt them on the wrong way. We’ve personally seen mishaps that could have been prevented by following a few of the tips that we’re going to talk about here.
The first mistake is one of the most common, people bolting them on backwards. This isn’t uncommon for the guy who’s never owned a set of knockoff wire wheels before. By “backwards,” we mean when people take the “right side” adapters that engage with the hub of the wire wheel and put them on the “left side” of the suspension; a common thing that can be avoided.
Most manufacturers paint or powdercoat their adapters to prevent them from rusting out, as well as to help identify what side they bolt on to. The colors that are most commonly used by manufacturers are white and red. The red is usually the “right side” and white is the “left side.” Always remember, red is right; they both start with “r.” Sometimes, people who build show cars will chrome the adapters to earn extra points at the show. When they do so, they take off the color identification provided by the manufacturer.
When people chrome plate the adapters, they sometimes get them back from the chrome shop with no markings. Don’t panic if this happens to you. It can be confusing but solved by checking the actual knockoffs. Most knockoffs are marked “right” or “left” on the inside or outside. Most of the knockoffs out there will also have arrows on which way to hammer them on. It’s good to have an extra lead hammer or two on hand as the average lifespan of a lead hammer is usually only a few installs of the wheel.
Other tips when bolting on the adapters is to use the right lug nuts. You can’t use long nuts or wide ones that are sometimes provided by the manufacturer. The ones that you should use are usually the old factory-style lug nuts that you can usually find in the help section of your local automotive store. These lug nuts are the ones that allow the wheel to engage with the adapter. This is important because if the wheel and adapter do not engage, the car will not roll forward or backward.
You should torque the lugs down properly. If not, they could come loose. If you overtighten them, it could snap the studs once the car starts rolling. Also, for you lowriders, all of the added weight of hydraulics adds extra pressure on the lugs. The best thing to do is torque down the nuts to the factory recommendations that can usually be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Always use a little lube on the knockoff tread located on the inside of the knockoff to prevent them from seizing on to the adapter. We’ve seen cases where the wheels had to be cut off because the knockoff had seized on. This tends to happen because of the different materials that both pieces are made of.
If you ever tow a car with wire wheels, make sure that you have the wheel rolling in the right direction. That is, if you lift the vehicle from the rear axle and you’re pulling it, make sure that the front wheels are rolling in the same direction as the car pulling the vehicle. If you don’t, the knockoff can come loose and you’ll lose the wheel while towing.
When you first put on a set of knockoff wheels, go around the block or put on a couple of miles of regular driving before you start hopping or three-wheeling. When you get back home, go through and hammer on them to make sure that they didn’t come loose. Usually, when you do this, they lock and stay in place. You should follow the same steps when you take off the wheels for maintenance or when you pull your wheel off of the adapter. If you’re driving and you start hearing a clunking noise, make sure that you safely pull over as sometimes this is the wheel knockoff coming loose.
With all of this said and done, follow along as we show you some tips that should help keep you rolling right.