Six Ways A Tire Shop Can Ruin Your Wire Wheels And How To Prevent It.
Updated: Aug 23
Introduction: Truespoke® Wire Wheels have been built since 1974. In over 45 years of experience, we believe we have just about seen everything possible that can go wrong with a wire wheel. A common problem we face is when a customer calls us and tells us, "my tire installer says your wheels are out of round and wobble" or "my tire man says he can't balance your wheels."
Here is some hard-earned advice that we can offer the wire wheel consumer, whether you buy Truespoke® Wire Wheels or any other brand.
1) Never take a Truespoke® Wire Wheel to a tire shop where the installer has little or no experience mounting and balancing wire wheels. The worst offenders are what we refer to as "Big Box Stores". Even if the installer tells you he has 30 years experience and mounted and balanced thousands of wheels, most probably, the installer has almost no experience mounting wire wheels. Wire wheels are different, much different than steel wheels, aluminum wheels or other custom wheels. A set of wire wheels can have 400 to 600 parts or more depending upon the size and style wheel involved. Special care and attention must be paid to successfully mount and balance wire wheels.
In the typical "Big Box" store, we find that the youngest and least experienced employee (and often, sadly, the lowest paid employee) is the person working the tire balancer. These "technicians" are often under pressure to crank-out wheels and tires as fast as possible and do not have the ability to take necessary steps to turn the tire on the wheel if necessary, as an example.
SOLUTION: In nearly every community, there are independent tire shops, generally "Mom and Pop" type stores where the man on the tire balancer has a gray beard and bald head. These type of shops generally serve the lowrider community, custom and hot rod owners and high-end automobiles like vintage Jaguars or Mercedes. These type of tire shops may probably have the knowledge and experience necessary to do the job right. Don't take your wire wheels to just any shop without checking on their experience first.
2) The tire shop must perform the balancing of your wheel and tire using lug-centric techniques, never hub-centric methods. Our wheels are hand-built and all truing and centering are based on the stud holes NOT the center-hole (or center-bore). All too many tire shops do not have proper, modern equipment to perform a lug centric type balance job or the technician lacks the experience, knowledge or time to do the job right. Sadly, most tire shops simply place the wheel on the tire balancer and hold it in place with a cone device, relying on the center hole of the wheel to properly align the wheel on the balancing machine. The result is predictable. The wheel will wobble, wiggle, go up and down or be difficult for the technician to balance, assuming he can even balance the wheel and tire assembly at all. All of our wheels come with printed instructions on the recommended procedure and are posted on-line at this link: Please click here.
3) The wheel and tire must be balanced using a STATIC SETTING, never dynamic. If the technician uses a dynamic setting (incidentally, a lot of technicians we have spoken to, do not even know the difference between static and dynamic), your wheel and tire will not be balanced properly. A hub centric balancing job typically ends up with the technician installing large amounts of balancing weights on your wheels and the performance of the car will be miserable.
4) Never permit a technician to put clip-on balancing weights on the front and back of the wheel. For that matter, any balancing weights on the front of the wheel are down-right ugly. Clip-on weights will damage your chrome plating and the ensuing damage to the chrome will become a gateway for rust to set-in. If a tire technician plans to use clip-on weights, especially on the front side of the wheel, do not permit it. You would have to question the experience of the installer if clip-on weights are even suggested.
5) Leaking wheels. We often receive reports of our wheels leaking air. The vast majority, probably 99% are due to mishandling and abuse by the tire installer. Wire wheels can be a challenge for any technician, especially one who is in a hurry or lacks the respect for expensive wire wheels. Prior to installation, we recommend that tires be placed in the sun, to make them more pliable and flexible. The installer should use generous amounts of lubrication. Too much force or pressure by the installer or a "touch-less" machine can tear the liner material in the wheel. Even a small tear or hole can lead to flat tires. If a wheel is returned to us and we find this tell-tale evidence, we charge the customer for the repair which can run $100 or more per wheel plus shipping. Especially difficult for the installer are 13 and 14 inch wheels with small-size tires. The installer must exercise the utmost care and patience when installing the tire onto the rim.
6) Chrome damage. One of the most unfortunate problems we see are careless tire installers or installers with the wrong equipment or lack of experience, spoil the chrome plating on your wheels. Some technicians can be brutal in the handling of expensive wire wheels. We have seen chips on the rim, bent outer rims when the wheel is dropped and even broken spokes from sheer neglect. This can be frustrating, expensive to repair and time consuming.
THE VERDICT: If you only take one thing away from this post, FIND A TIRE SHOP THAT HAS WIRE WHEEL INSTALLATION EXPERIENCE! Don't let a butcher mess-up your wheels. If you find a great shop, please post a comment on this blog or email us and we will add them to our list of approved installers. An installer with significant wire wheel experience can easily mount and balance our wire wheels even with stone-age tools. Likewise, disobeying any of the six points stated above can lead to having your expensive and beautiful new wheels turned into trash. Let us know what you think. Thank you for reading.