Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Shattered Dreams

Sorry, I was checking out for the latest news in celebrities. Paris is trying everything to stay out of jail, except not driving of course. Tom Sizemore was busted for smoking crank, again. Stay off the ice Tom, haven't you seen Faces of Meth? Yeah, that shit is BAD.

So the wheels for Focus that I bought and had sandblasted, remeber those? The original plan was sandblast them, clearcoat them, mount tires on them, put them on car and sell my stock wheels on ebay. Not gonna happen.

Clearcoated them, looked great, took them to get the tires mounted and the guy encountered problems. The finish from the sandblasting was really rough so they were grabbing the tires and wouldn't pop onto the wheel/rim. Lots of soap took care of that. So we get it mounted up and put it on the for a test fit since I'd never had them on my car before.

Hey, did you know these were 8 inches wide? Uh, no. Did you know that these wheels have been machined by someone to try and make them fit another bolt pattern? Um, nope.

He said they would stay on the car and it would be safe but there was no guarantee that the wheels would ride smooth and might make the car shake and vibrate. AND the fact that they are 1.5 inches wider than the stock wheels, so I literally had a finger's width between the tire and my fender, which would be fine if all roads everywhere were smooth. So I didn't feel like cutting my fenders this week to make the tire fit, and I didn't like the prospect of the new wheels not riding right, so I told him to mount the tires on my stock wheels.

I contacted the guy who sold them to me and he's being cool about it and offered some of my money back, but I HATE learning lessons the hard way. Although it does seem like I learn them that way more often than not. Yeah, I like starting sentences with conjuctions, what of it?

So here I present Seth's Guide to Buying Used Wheels (we'll also toss in some other search tags like rims, tutorial, help)

1) Check the outer and inner lip of the wheel and make sure they are straight and even. The outer lip is also where most wheels will be scraped against curbs, so if you're looking for show quality, keep that in mind. If you see any small dips, it most likely means they hit something hard and even if the tire will hold air, you are going to get some vibration through the steering column. Better pass on those unless you REALLY like them and they are cheap.

2) Triple check the bolt pattern of the wheel, its size, center bore and offset. 15s? 16s? 24s? and how wide are they? 5"? 8"? 12"? If the person you're buying them from doesn't know, take that as a warning sign and take a tape measure just in case. Odds are if they know a few of those numbers and it came off the same type of car that you're putting it on, it should work. Contact your local wheel merchant if you're unsure.

3) Check the holes through which the lugs pass. Are they circular? Are they oblong or elliptical? If they don't all look the same, and all aren't round, you're probably looking at a wheel that someone tried to make fit on another bolt pattern. In my case, they tried, screwed up and put in a plastic dish to try and fix their mistake. Bleh.

4) Ask them what size tire they usually mount onto the wheel also and go price a set of those. You can play around with the width a little bit (the width is the first number of the mystical tire marking) and adjust the price with wider tires being more expensive. Protege saved himself about $75 going from a 215 to a 205 width tire for everyday driving and he said he can barely tell a difference.

For a frame of reference, if you're considering going blingtastic on your new Escalade, the guy was quoting 2800-3500 for a set of 22s and around 1800-2200 for tires, so you always have to budget money for tires for your brand new wheels too.

The bad part is I still like the wheels I have. I LOVE that they're 8 inches wide. I could squeeze at least a 235 on there if not a 245. That's alot of tire going from a 205. However to do that I would have to cut my fenders and would also have to find some tires in that size. I hear 16 inch race tires are very tricky to find. Huh, I just found a set of Hankook's new Ventus Rs2 V212s for $93/each from Edge Racing. In a 245/45/16. Niiiiice. I need some storage space to prevent myself from getting hosed on this deal!

That also reminds me. If you're paying more than $400 to $450 for tires, mounting and balancing, you're getting ripped off. Or maybe you're not. But please, please, please shop around on the internet a little bit before going down to your dealership/Goodyear/Firestone or wherever the hell you buy tires from. You might be surprised. For example, I just looked up a set of 205/50/16 (my street tire size) on Edge Racing. $245 shipped plus another $60 for mounting and balancing and I just replaced my tires for a hair over $300. Don't you love the internet?

Also, if you don't know your tire size (something everyone who drives a vehicle should know, just in case) next time you go out to your car, bend down and get to know your tires. There will be a bunch of writing, some DOT stuff, max PSI, etc... and then you should see some numbers that will look similar to 215/50/17 89Wor something like that. The important numbers are the first 3. The last number and letter is a speed rating. It basically states how what load the tire can hold and its top tested speed. Don't worry, you're probably not going that fast anyway, or at least not on public roads.

Tire browsing websites:
Tire Rack (Currently sponsoring the One Lap of America, like Cannonball but fewer deaths and more legal)
Edge Racing
Vulcan Tire
Discount Tire

Most of those also offer race tires if you're in the market for those.

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