Top 5 Ways To Avoid Damaged Mags And Care For Your Wheels!

How To Avoid Damaged Mags And Care For Your Wheels!

Here are the top 5 pain points for mag /alloy/chrome damage.

1/ Alloy / Mag Wheel Curb Damage

Scenario: Your [Please substitute name here] Son / Daughter / Better Half / Buddy, drive your car and the next day you are admiring your awesome mags glistening in the sun only to see, to your horror smashed rim lips and scuffing…. Man, that hurts! The cries of; “it wasn’t me!” Will surely follow… Wow, doesn’t it suck, when you hear that curb grinding into the side of your mag?! There goes [sustitute amount here] 200 / 300 / 500 bucks worth of wheel.. The truth: Always remember that very few people will treat your car as well as you do. People will be unlikely consider how much you paid for your awesome wheels or how much it kills you to see the scrapes on those rims every time you walk up to your

Solutions: Avoid loaning your car out to others. Full stop. Try mag rim protectors.  This product is aimed at protecting you assets. The protector is a hard plastic rib that is fitted onto the rim lip to make a barrier between the curb and the wheel. It is like a last line of defense. When I first saw these things I was blown away! What a great and simple idea. For a small investment and a little time to fit them you have got some protection against the evil of CURB DAMAGED WHEELS! I don’t know who invented these things but it is a stroke of genius. Not to mention the fact that they can add another dimension to the look of your mag wheels and the car itself.

Protects Wheels Looks Great!

Check this picture out. Umm the wheels I mean!

Car Rim Protectors Colours
Colours Mag Alloy Wheel Protectors

Cool colours too!

Of course they won’t protect you from a complete curb banger driving your car, that is committed to total destruction of your rims. But they do certainly help. If you are not really handy you may want to get some help getting them fitted. An air compressor is necessary as you will need to let air your of your tires to get them on.

2/ Under inflation / Flat Tire Induced Alloy Damage

Scenario: You are looking at that tire and it looks a little low.. “Hmm’” you wonder to yourself, “I wonder if that tire is a bit low?” “I will remember to check that when I fill up next time…” Of course before you fill up there is a horrific grinding sound as you go round a corner..

Solutions: Check your tire pressure regularly. This is particularly important on modern low profile tires and wheels. Make sure you monitor it. If you have one tire loosing pressure more than others, it likely indicates a slow leak. GET IT FIXED! A slow leak will catch you out. I have found that as tires get close to the end of their tread and are nearly worn out. They are much more likely to lose the seal on the rim or get a puncture. Consider changing to a new set of rubber as soon as you feel tread is a little low. Don’t spin it out and try to get more out of the tires than you should. Often it will result in flat and potential rim damage.

3/ Cleaning Damage

Scenario: How crazy does this sound. You are a compulsive or perhaps out of the blue cleaner… But the problem is that in your zeal to make those babies shine or get rid of that last little bit of tar kills the glow!  You use just a little steel wool or what about a bit of solvent.. to get that stuff off… It will be ok…  But its not!

Solutions: There is a huge range of cleaning products available for cars and in the household. You may have a garage full of cleaners. Remember that some of the surfaces on your groovy wheels are often quite soft comparatively. For example if you have some awesome matt powder coated wheels they will not look awesome for long if you hit them with an ajax type cleaner that is full of powdered abrasives! This stuff can even take the shine right off Alloys that have been highly polished at the factory. It can be mind blowingly difficult to get that shine back again. Sure you might have removed some tar and bugs, but the wheel may have lost that sparkle. Also avoid abrasive pads or steel wool for example. If you can feel any abrasiveness on your fingers it should not go on your wheels. Likewise with solvents or caustics. Some of these cleaners are mystery bottles. Who knows what is in them really; probably only the lab that concocted the stuff. There are cleaners for chrome rims and there are cleaners for alloy rims. Make sure to select only quality products or use basic car cleaning detergents and keep it really simple. Hose off any grit first. To avoid the grit scratching your rims as you try to clean it. Get them wet early and soaped up for a good soaking. Also avoid cleaning your wheels in the red-hot sun. Find a nice shady spot. This will cause your soap and water to have no time to penetrate. Chamois are great too. Use them to enhance your shine and dry off the rims fast. If you use a rag make sure it is clean when you start. Make sure if you use a sponge it does not get grit stuck in it. If it does don’t use it.

4/ Poor Fitting Tools

Scenario: You’re on the side of the road with a flat tire. You drag out the wheel brace to remove you alloy pleased that you didn’t stuff it up by driving it flat.. Whew! But man, this wheel brace is like wrestling with a seal, its slipping and jumping. Finally you look at what you’ve done. Two-damaged wheel nuts and ding in the alloys… Bummer!

Solution: Make sure that you have the right brace for your wheel nuts. Often when we fit new wheels, we are excited and focusing on the wheels and tires, not 6 months down the track when the flat tire arises. Its right about then we find that our groovy new wheel nuts are not really quite the same as the old standard ones. Get a wheel brace that is exactly right for the new lug nuts. That will avoid a lot of heart ache damaged knuckles and possibly rims and lug nuts.

5/ Car Wash Damage

Scenario: The car is pretty clean, but I think I’ll just give it a little spruce up and whip through the car wash… “Wow, those whirly things on the side of the car hitting my rims are pretty full on!!”

Solutions: Hand washing is the best! I don’t know how many times I have thought I will try this car wash it looks really modern. Only to have my spoiler get the clear coat stripped off by the whirly brush that ripped into it. Or finding out I followed the four wheel drive club and all the spinning chamois were full of grit .. If you have a nice set of wheels don’t take the risk. Car washes can be like mechanized death for your car finish. Hand washing is best.

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The internal combustion engine builds up heat as it runs. The small explosions that take place inside the cylinders as well as the friction creates this heat. Engine oil, helps avoid some heat generated by the engine friction, along with some reduction due to air flowing over and around the engine. However, this is not enough to keep the engine from overheating and creating damage to its parts. There have been some successful air-cooled motors such as those in motor bikes and of course the Volkswagens such as the beetle and combo. But removing excess engine heat from the traditional four stroke internal engine requires ‘water cooling’ jacket around the cylinders. Or more precisely a water / coolant mix. When the car is running it is the job of the circulating coolant to dispense with this excess heat as it passes through the radiator. The radiator of course also has a fan that will run to keep the air flow over the radiator especially during times where the car is not moving or moving too slowly to create its own airflow.

How long would an engine run without coolant? Not very long in most cases. Perhaps minutes. The heat generated is quite incredible. If the motor is run for long without coolant it is generally severely damaged even if it does not completely heat seize. From my observations damage to most motors requiring the motor to be rebuilt or replaced is caused by either faulty poorly maintained cooling systems or a lack of coolant or both at some point.

Why Do I Need Coolant…? Why Not Just Use Water?

Well water alone could work, but a few of extra things that coolant does are as follows:

  1. Provides resistance to corrosion in the engine cooling systems by avoiding things like electrolysis
  2. Dissipate more heat than water alone can and avoids the system boiling at higher temperatures
  3. Stops freezing of the coolant in extremely low temperatures

These are two pretty important factors to consider when you choose a coolant for your vehicle.  Normal or even distilled water will allow metallic parts and even rubber or even synthetic parts to perish and corrode more quickly.  A quality coolant is critical in avoiding these reaction.  The reactions are magnified at higher temperatures and under pressure.  The ratio of coolant to water you use and the coolant quality will make sure that the life of the cooling components will be at their maximum.  It will also make sure that under load your engine has the best possible chance of transferring all that heat to the air.  So let’s say you develop a cooling system leak and you are topping up with water regularly.  You need to remember that you will be diluting the effectiveness of the coolant.  This can have catastrophic affects.  The moral of this story is get the leaks fixed immediately, flush, clean and replace the coolant as quickly as possible!

Composition and Importance

Coolants are usually a mix of water and various chemicals. One of the often used chemicals is propylene glycol.  It is a chemical additive that lowers the freezing point of the coolant. It can often be referred to as antifreeze.  Although there may be other additives in the coolant such as glycerol that helps enhance this affect.   Glycol also helps in raising the boiling point of water thus making the engine temperature stable in very hot climate or if the engine is subjected to extreme conditions. A good ratio is to mix water and antifreeze 50/50. This is sufficient enough for the kinds of conditions the engine is subjected to. However, it is also good to note to check the specified ratio by the car manufacturer in the car’s user’s manual.   If you are in an cold climate or at that part of the year where freezing of coolant could be an issue.  You must make sure that you are using a good antifreeze rated coolant and it is at the right ratio.  Otherwise your motor can be severely damaged.  It is possible for the freezing coolant to crack the block of your engine!  So keep the ratios right for your area.

Without the coolant, the engine can overheat leading to mechanical failure and a costly repair/replacement of the engine. Water, although a very good coolant by itself, is not enough to provide sufficient cooling for the engine. The reason being is that water has a low boiling point. Adding glycol can raise the boiling point of the coolant and can help the engine operate efficiently at high temperatures.

It is vital to check the coolant level often to prevent possible overheating or hot spots in the engine. Although the main component does not break down, some of the inhibitors present that prevents corrosion eventually do.  Once the the inhibitors are used up, corrosion starts to eat away at the metal inside the engine and radiator. The images below show corrosion due to the coolant-inhibitors being used up.

Corrosion Due to Coolant-Inhibitors being used up

How To Change Your Vehicle’s Coolant

Given the importance of the cooling system in the optimum performance of your vehicle, it is critical to check it often and change when necessary. Also take note of the car’s users manual specification on when to change the coolant. There can be reasons and benefits to change the coolant sooner than specified by the car manufacturer. Personally I check the cooling system as often as I can for signs of corrosion and proper level etc. This is one maintenance habit that practice to help me get me more miles out of my engine.

Note* Follow your car’s users manual instructions for draining the spent coolant from the cooling system. The steps below are some of the things I usually do when changing the coolant in my car. The steps listed here may or may not apply to your vehicle and should be performed with utmost care if ever you decide to follow the steps shown here.

  1. Park the vehicle in a safe place, away from children and animals. Waste coolant is dangerous to animals or children and can be fatal to them when ingested.
  2. Make sure the engine has cooled down and ignition turned off before changing the coolant. This is to prevent harm to you. Also be aware that the system is under pressure.  So use a rag and release the pressure in the system gradually and carefully.
  3. Gather all the necessary tools, like screwdrivers, draining pans, needed before starting on the coolant change. This will save you time and make the change faster. Also make sure to use the coolant/antifreeze specified on your car’s users manual to prevent unwanted damage due to using of unspecified coolant. Do not compromise on low quality or low ratios of the coolant.  It can be a costly mistake if you end up with corrosion or over-heating.
  4. Using the owner’s manual, check and locate the radiator drain plug.  Place the drain pan or receptacle below the drain plug, hose or tap. Loosen the screw plug, bolt plug or in many cases there is a simple drain plug (petcock). Avoid spilling the drained coolant onto the ground or into storm drains or sewers to avoid pollution of the environment.
  5. Once the liquid has completely drained, close the valve and pour the used coolant into containers with tight-fitting lids. I make sure to label these containers and store them away in a safe place like a cabinet with a lock in place. This will ensure the safety of our pets and our children who are not aware of the dangers of being exposed to such items. When disposing of the coolant make sure it goes into a the right drums at your local municipal tip.  There are usually drums available for these sort of wastes if you ask the attendant.
  6. The next step would be to flush the radiator using water and a radiator flush solution. Close the valve, open the radiator cap and pour the radiator flush solution. After that, you should run the engine with the heater control on High for about 10 minutes.  This ensures the flush compound will circulate into the heater core. Make sure to watch the temperature gauge or warning light to avoid overheating the engine. Allow the engine to cool off before attempting to drain the water or flush solution to prevent burns or injury to yourself. Once the radiator is cool enough to touch, drain the flush solution and transfer the drained liquid to tight-lid containers and make sure to label the containers properly to avoid accidents.
  7. After all the liquid has drained, close the drain plug and begin adding the new coolant mixture. However, before adding the new coolant, make sure that the one you are using is specified by the car manufacturer. Also take note on how much coolant your cooling system can hold. These are pretty simple steps that are often missed or taken for granted, but the result can be very expensive. Make sure that the liquid reaches the proper level on the coolant reservoir and continue adding if it doesn’t.
  8. Replace the pressure cap and run the engine with the heater on High until the temperature meter reads in the normal range. Double check the levels and finalise the top-up.  This is an important step as there are often a few air locks that only come out once the engine is run up to temperature and the thermostat opens.  Do not miss this step!
  9. Clean up. Make sure to put contaminated rags in sealable plastic bags and put them into garbage. And again, make sure to place unused coolants away from your kids or pets by storing them in a place where the coolants could not be easily reached.
  10. Also I make sure to check the liquid level after a few days of driving the car. This is to make sure that the cooling system has enough liquid to cool the engine when the car is running. If it is low, then just add until it is on the right level.
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