With over 45 years of experience in the wire wheel business, Truespoke® Wire Wheels has seen just about everything that could go wrong with a wire wheel. A common problem they face are receiving calls from customers who tell them, “my tire installer says your wheels are out of round and wobble” or “my tire man says he can’t balance your wheels.”
Recently, Truespoke® shared with us the six most common ways that a tire shop can ruin your wire wheels and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Never take a wire wheel to a tire shop that has little or no experience with mounting and balancing wire wheels.
Even though an installer may say that they have years of experience mounting and balancing wheels, there is still a good chance that they have never worked on wire wheels before. Depending upon the size and style of the wheel, a single wire wheel could easily have 400 to 600 parts; special care must be taken to successfully mount and balance them.
When looking for a tire shop to mount and balance your wire wheels, do your research and locate a shop that has technicians who have actual experience with mounting and balancing wire wheels. Try to find a shop that specializes in custom cars like lowriders, hot rods or high-end vehicles such as, vintage luxury cars. These places usually have the knowledge, tools and experience to do the job right.
Be wary of big box chain-style installers. In these establishments, the people they have doing the tire mounting and balancing are usually the least experienced (and often the lowest paid) employees. These “technicians” are often under pressure to get things done as soon as possible, and do not have the necessary skills and knowledge to make sure wire wheels are mounted properly, which demand extra care and time than ordinary wheels.
2. Direct bolt wire wheels must be balanced using lug-centric techniques, never hub-centric techniques.
Wire wheels like Truespokes® are hand-built; all truing and centering are based on the stud holes, not on the center-hole (or center-bore). Most tire shops do not have the proper equipment to do a lug centric-type balance job, or have technicians that have the proper experience and knowledge to do the job right.
Truespoke® has told us that there has been many times where they have heard about a technician putting a wire wheel on a tire balancer; and, holding it in place with a cone device, using the center hole to align the wheel on the balancing machine. This causes the wheel to wobble and wiggle, making it difficult for the technician to balance the wheel and tire assembly properly.
As a courtesy to their customers Truespoke®, makes sure to include printed instruction on how to properly balance wire wheels with all of their wheels. This information is also free to view online.
3. Wheels and tires must be balanced using a static setting, never a dynamic one.
Wheels and tires cannot be balanced properly in a dynamic setting. If a technician tries to do a hub-centric balancing job in a dynamic setting, typically they will end up installing too many balancing weights on your wheels which will result in poor performance.
4. Do not put clip-on balancing weights on the front and back of your wheels.
Aside from the fact that clip-on weights are just down-right ugly, clip-on weights can also damage chrome plating which can lead to rust. If a technician says they that they want to hang clip-on weights onto the front side of your wheels do not let them. In fact, if an installer suggests that they use clip-on weights, you should start questioning their experience with wire wheels altogether.
5. Leaking Wheels
Truespoke® told us that they occasionally receive reports about their wheels leaking air; 99% of the time, leaking wheels are caused by mishandling or abuse by the tire installer. As stated earlier, wire wheels require special care from an installer who knows how to safely install them. When installing tires, it is recommended that the tires be placed in the sun first to make them more pliable and flexible, and the technician should also use generous amounts of lubrication during installation. Applying too much force by the installer, can cause a tear in the liner material in the wheel, which can lead to air leaking and eventually a flat tire.
Truespoke® states that if a wheel is returned to them and they find evidence that somebody tried to improperly install a tire, they will charge the customer for the repairs which can cost as much as $100 or more per wheel plus the cost of shipping.
6. Chrome Damage
Chrome damage is an unfortunate problem that Truespoke® has seen much too often. They’ve seen it all; everything from bent and chipped rims to broken spokes, all of which were caused by the sheer neglect and carelessness of inexperienced or improperly trained technicians.
Make sure that the technician who is handling your wire wheels has the experience and knowledge to mount and balance them properly. Chrome damage isn’t just frustrating, it is also expensive and time-consuming to fix.
If there’s a common answer to all of these problems, it is to make sure that you go to a tire shop that has the experience and knowledge to properly handle and install wire wheels. A well-trained and well-experienced installer, with the correct tools, can save you a lot of headaches in the long run and your expensive wire wheels from being turned into chunks of trash.
For more information about wire wheels and how to take care of them please visit the Truespoke® website at www.truespoke.com.