Wheel Care

The splines (teeth) and threads on the hubs and inside knock-off wheel centers must be kept clean and well lubricated with grease or the wheels may not come off the next time you need them to. The lubrication also aids in correctly tightening the wheels to the hubs. More on that later.

The splines (teeth) and threads on the hubs and inside knock-off wheel centers must be kept clean and well lubricated with grease or the wheels may not come off the next time you need them to. The lubrication also aids in correctly tightening the wheels to the hubs. More on that later.

Some owners have objected to greasing the splines on Borrani wire wheels due to unsightly black grease on the spokes from the lubrication slinging through the spoke holes with centrifugal force as the wheels spin. The cure for that is to clean and dry the inside of the wheel centers very thoroughly. Then apply a layer of RTV silicone rubber all over the spoke ends inside the wheel center, inboard and outboard. When the RTV has cured (overnight) reapply grease to the splines and reinstall the wheels.

The knockoff nuts should be tightened to 325 foot pounds. A special socket and torque wrench for this purpose is available from Stainless Steel Brake Co. If you must use a mallet, use a big, plastic, dead-blow mallet filled with lead shot and really beat the nuts tight, being careful not to hit the fenders. Getting the wheels tight is important. It is not uncommon to find cases where the hub is so badly worn from an under tightened wheel wobbling around on it that the wheel can no longer be tightened correctly. In such a case the wheel is not far from stripping the splines under braking or acceleration in which case the wheel would just spin freely on its hub.

Cars with bolt-on wheels need special wheel mounting attention as much as their knock-off wheeled cousins. Before mounting bolt-on wheels, it’s a good habit to thoroughly clean the wheel and hub mating surfaces and apply a very thin coat of grease to the wheel mounting face. Clean the threaded studs and apply a thin, even coat of molybdenum anti-seize compound to each one. Install the wheel and wheel nuts. Snug wheel nuts down and then incrementally tighten each nut to 80-90 foot pounds. On 4 lug wheels, use a cross pattern. On 5 lug wheels, tighten every other nut incrementally as you go clockwise in a circle around the wheel center. Every 5 times you turn every other nut, you have tightened every nut in the circle. Do that about 4 times working up to 90 pounds and you have torqued the wheel correctly. The main reason for this method is to prevent brake rotor warpage due to uneven tightening while going through hundreds or thousands of heating and cooling cycles. Never let anyone install your wheels with an air impact wrench.

If you care about the appearance of the wheel nuts and you don’t have one of those fancy nylon lined wheel nut sockets, try the following: Clean all dust and grit from the wheel nuts. Take the correct size six point deep socket, preferably one with “flank drive” (such as sold by Snap-on) and clean any grit that might be on the inside. Cut 2″ squares from a plastic bag, place a plastic square over one of the wheel nuts and push the socket onto the nut. Have an assistant push on the brakes if need be and tighten the nuts in the previously described manner and to the correct torque using a new plastic square for each nut. Avoid using an extension between the deep socket and the torque wrench if you can. Extensions tend to absorb torque when they twist.

by Wil de Groot



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