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 Slow leak with aluminum wheels: What are my options?
refurb  [Member]
12/22/2009 6:34:24 PM
Hive mind,

I've got a 2002 Intrepid with aluminum wheels. The two rear tires are losing pressure on a slow, but consistent basis. The rear driver's side loses 15 psi over the course of a couple weeks.

I'm going to bring the car into a tire shop and see what they say, but the last time I did, they said the corrosion on the wheels is the culprit. They can clean up the bead surface as best they can, but the slow leak will only return.

What are my options?

I'm thinking if I try and track down a couple used wheels, I'll probably have a tough time getting a pair that don't already have corrosion on them (unless I get a pair from down south). I don't really want to buy new wheels.

Can they be refinished? Anyone had any luck doing that?

Thanks!

RF
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PKDA  [Member]
12/22/2009 7:24:21 PM
If you take the wheels to the repair shop they will clean the bead area and put bead sealer on it.This may fix your problem depending on how severe the corrosion is on your wheels.

Your other option is to get refinished wheels here http://www.rimpro.com/products.html . With this option you can trade in your wheels as a core which reduces total cost.

Another option is to get aftermarket wheels. Although they wont be factory style, you may be able to get a set at a lower cost than new or refurbished.

Hope this helps.

echo_5  [Team Member]
12/22/2009 8:08:26 PM
My father-in-law related this same experience with his wife's PT Loser. It's a common failure for that brand through a few years. Since the Intrepid is also a Chrysler vehicle.....

They are probably plated aluminum rims. Very few mfgs. can successfully plate aluminum. The plating flakes and corrodes, causing slow leaks.



Buy new rims and sell your old ones on Ebay.

killingmachine123  [Member]
12/22/2009 10:09:30 PM

Originally Posted By echo_5:
My father-in-law related this same experience with his wife's PT Loser. It's a common failure for that brand through a few years. Since the Intrepid is also a Chrysler vehicle.....

They are probably plated aluminum rims. Very few mfgs. can successfully plate aluminum. The plating flakes and corrodes, causing slow leaks.



Buy new rims and sell your old ones on Ebay.


It wasn't just the Chryslers, but all the chrome wheels from that time frame.

If you take an angle grinder and clean the wheels with a wire wheel on there it should take care of the problem for some time. It cleans them right up with no bead sealer needed. I would also pull the stems and use a rat tail file to clean up in there also. That can be a worse problem than the lips.

Finally, I have seen that vehicles with nitrogen in the tires had this problem less over the long haul since there isn't near as much moisture in there as there would be with normal air. This is one of the few real world benefits to nitrogen inflation and the only time I would ever pay for it. Otherwise it is nice, but nothing too crazy.

ETA: If they are the chrome wheels the problem actually gets better as the wheels get worse. About the time the chrome is done flaking to the edge of the lip the problem is all but gone and they don't really seem to peel much further so the look of the wheel is maintained for the most part.

I worked at a tire shop in the Detroit area for 7 years so I saw a lot of the same conditions you must be in weather wise. I would rather have wheels which have been cleaned a time or two rather than some new ones of the same type from down south etc. which will begin to have the same problem shortly.
oneshot1kill  [Moderator]
12/23/2009 12:56:24 AM
As mentioned, the best way to clean up the inner and outer bead areas of the rim is to use an angle grinder with the appropriate disc. However, there are one or two more steps needed to complete the job.

After you grind away the corrosion, wipe away the dust and debris from the beads and make sure it's clean and dry.

Using a high heat engine enamel (without priming first) paint the bead areas of the rim. Use a very light touch on the spray paint. Two or three light coats work best with 5-10 minutes between each coat to dry. When you are done painting, the bead area will be as good as new. You won't need any bead sealer or anything else on the tire.

The final step if needed:
If the tire itself is old and the bead is nasty with dirt, rust, corrosion etc, you have to take care of that before re-mounting the tire. To save time do this while the paint is drying.First I clean the tire beads really well with a rag and some mild detergent like soap water. Then I use the angle grinder with dark red disc to give it a very light once over to clean it up.But be careful, it's very easy to grind out a big chunk of rubber and completely destroy the bead. The alternate is to use sandpaper and a little elbow grease. Use 600-800 grit on really nasty beads and finish with a really fine grit or just re-wipe with a damp rag.

20-25 minutes per wheel is average, but it's well worth the effort if you have a constant slow leak. This will fix it for good.



For aluminum / alloy rims I use the dark red discs, for steel or chrome plated rims, I use the brown ones.




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refurb  [Member]
12/23/2009 12:57:15 AM
Thanks guys. As far as I can tell they are aluminum wheels with a lacquer coating.

I'll see what the tire shop says and if it starts up again, I'll probably buy a couple new wheels. I found a couple websites you can buy OEM stuff (refurbed likely) for $135/wheel. Not too bad.

RF
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