Alloy Wheel Leakage Problems
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18 May 2010
Whilst alloys may look nice, a common problem is leaking rims especially if one lives near the ocean. (Its the salt that does it) Some old British made alloy Mini wheels seem to be virtually immune from the problem however and were possibly made from expensive marine grade alloy. Usually one will not be so lucky especially with cheap foreign products. Taking the wheels to a tyre station for a strip-and-build is not really the answer as often a quick scrub with a wire brush and a dollop of tyre soap won't solve the problem. It will just be a waste of money, a fudge or a bodge job. Instead clean the wheel at home and don't forget the valve hole! Black, grey or white corrosion products need to be carefully filed or sanded away but don't enlarge the valve hole. As soon as shiny metal appears that's enough. Next the alloy needs to be primed with Special Metals Primer, sometimes known as etching primer or chromate primer. Without the primer the top coat is liable to flake off as the paint won't "key" to the metal. Paint the wheel beads and the valve hole. When dry put on the topcoat. Smoothrite is extremely good for making a perfect seal . If the tyre bead is mucky it is a good idea to clean it with sandpaper and its also a good idea to clip off any moulding spikes that may get trapped in the bead area. After this the tyre can be put back on using tyre soap NOT oil, grease, lard, butter or whatever. Done this way and fitted with a new valve (I also use tyre soap to fit valves) the tyre will stay hard for months on end. OEM paint jobs are often a bit iffy as the etching primer is usually omitted. IMHO this is the #1 reason for alloy wheels having a bad reputation for causing flat tyres.
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