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Thread: Steel wheels don't seep air!

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Steel wheels don't seep air!

    New cars almost all have alloy wheels - even economy cars.

    They're light (which is good) but relatively fragile and more expensive than steel wheels - which isn't good.

    Another thing about alloy wheels: They sometimes leak! The material can be porous enough to let air bleed away, adding a new chore to your list - checking and refilling the leaky tire every week or so.

    I say, bring back steel wheels. They're sturdier, they're much less expensive to replace if you manage to break one - and they don't leak!

  2. #2
    The problem with steelies is that hubcaps have become horrendous. What was once a nice sturdy metal 'cap has turned into a POS plastic one that breaks, cracks, the paint (if painted) falls off.

    They usually look like shit because the manufacturer tries to make them look like alloys and fails, because the hub cap only covers 1/3 of the steel wheel behind it leaving the wheel exposed for all to see.

    And they fall off, because people don't know how to put them on right, and the same people buy the gross generic ones from Wal-Mart and put them on wrong too!.

    Plus with the increasing wheel sizes these days it would be hard to make a 'cap for a 20" wheel......the only place I've ever seen a 20" steelie is on a Class 8 truck.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    The problem with steelies is that hubcaps have become horrendous. What was once a nice sturdy metal 'cap has turned into a POS plastic one that breaks, cracks, the paint (if painted) falls off.

    They usually look like shit because the manufacturer tries to make them look like alloys and fails, because the hub cap only covers 1/3 of the steel wheel behind it leaving the wheel exposed for all to see.

    And they fall off, because people don't know how to put them on right, and the same people buy the gross generic ones from Wal-Mart and put them on wrong too!.

    Plus with the increasing wheel sizes these days it would be hard to make a 'cap for a 20" wheel......the only place I've ever seen a 20" steelie is on a Class 8 truck.
    True!

    But it could be fixed. And steel wheels can be very attractive (for example, Pontiac's Rally wheels from the '70s).

    Also: No one needs 20 inch rims, or even 17 inch rims (outside of high-performance applications).

    When I see 18s on a minivan or crossover I have to fight back the bile... it's so stupid and pointless.

    And 20s on a 4WD SUV?

    All I can say is, Maaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnn!

  4. #4
    And 20s on a 4WD SUV?
    Yeah, I always wonder why people get a 4WD and equip it with low profile summer tires (on 20" chrome rims). Supposedly Pennsylvania has the highest percent of 4WD's sold, probably one third of them have summer tires on year around.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    Yeah, I always wonder why people get a 4WD and equip it with low profile summer tires (on 20" chrome rims). Supposedly Pennsylvania has the highest percent of 4WD's sold, probably one third of them have summer tires on year around.
    It's due to the unfortunate seepage of "rap culture" into the mainstream. White middle and upper classes emulating the look/tastes of ghetto thug blacks and pro afaletes.

    Gnomesayin?

  6. #6
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    My '03 Explorer had steel wheels, and what appear to be cheap chrome plated stamped steel wheel covers. They're not. They're even cheaper, _plastic_, chrome plated wheel covers. It's a triumph of materials science and plastics technology, really.


    WRT air leakage, aluminum castings are often slightly porous, not enough to affect their strength, but enough to deflate a tire sooner than you'd like.

    There are super- low viscosity Loctite formulations that are specifically intended to seal casting porosity. They will wick well enough to do it on a mounted wheel from the outside, if you can find the porosity.

    More likely, you won't find the specific porosity, in which case you might be able to seal the wheel by demounting the tire, degreasing the wheel, and spraying it from bead to bead with polyurethane varnish. Be sure to use rubber lube when remounting the tire so you'll be able to get it off again; polyurethane is a great adhesive.

  7. #7
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    New cars almost all have alloy wheels - even economy cars.

    They're light (which is good) but relatively fragile and more expensive than steel wheels - which isn't good.

    Another thing about alloy wheels: They sometimes leak! The material can be porous enough to let air bleed away, adding a new chore to your list - checking and refilling the leaky tire every week or so.

    I say, bring back steel wheels. They're sturdier, they're much less expensive to replace if you manage to break one - and they don't leak!
    Steel - Strong, cheap, HEAVY!

    Alloy - Strong, expensive, LIGHT!

    Lightness is the main advantage of alloy wheels. Not so noticeable on a car but very, very noticeable on a bike where the effects of precession are much more pronounced. Hence the prediliction, on bikes, for alloy, magnesium alloy or carbon fibre wheels, usually in that order due to the much increased costs of magnesium alloy and carbon fibre. Cars, in the main, have power steering which counteracts the effects of heavy wheel precession.

    Incidentally for bike riders who can't afford the more exotic wheels, Michelin now do a lightweight sports/hypersports tire (Power Pure) which is over 2 lbs lighter than the usual 'standard' tire. A cheap way of getting lightweight wheel assemblies and vastly improved handling.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  8. #8
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    I prefer steel wheels as they are field, repairable. I've whacked them several times and a hammer can beat them back into shape enough to hold air and then you start pumping. I've used foot pumps before but now have one that plugs into my cigarette lighter. I didn't realize how long I've gone with plain jane black wheels and either chrome lug nuts or dog dish hub caps.

    When I bought my 2001 Ram 2500 earlier this year, I pulled the chromed wheels off and put on the plain stock wheels after using a brush and some Rust-O-Leum to paint them black. Since this picture was taken, I got 32 chromed acorn lug nuts and pulled the center caps off as they rattled all the time. They were for the chromed wheels that were originally on the truck. You can see the truck with both sets of wheels below.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    I prefer steel wheels. I still do tires at times by hand. Something I learned way back when. Anything from trucks, I mean trucks, not the wannabes, to small Garden Tractors. My health won't let me thump on them like I use to, but I still try. The early Custom Wheels from the sixties, were made of Magnesium if I remember right. They were very brittle for it didn't take much to break them. Just take a corner to fast, hit a good sized chuck hole, and the center would break, or the rim would crack, resulting in a flat tire. Pulling into a curbside parking spot, bang the curb, crack the rim, guess what. You got it. A flat. I never used Mag's, or Custom wheels during my racing days. We didn't think they would stand up to the pressures demanded on them. Steel would bend before they would break. And as I found out, if you should happen to thump a Mag Wheel while installing a tire, you could crack the rim causing a wheel failure, down the road. The newer Wheels, made from Alloys, will take a lot more punishment. I have done tire changing on these with no problem. Sure, I still thump the rim once in a while. But at least I didn't break the rim, I hope.

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