The answer to the question of how to replace steel wheels with alloys is simple.
It’s basically the same as changing a spare tire with a few minor differences.
So, you may have bought new alloys for your car or have a set already, with this article you should be able to change them on your own.
At the end of the article, you have a video tutorial that you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED FOR THE REPLACEMENT?
Regarding tools, the basic kit for replacing a flat tire that you already have in the car should be enough. That’s what we’ll be using in this example.
But if you have a better hydraulic car jack, a better lug wrench, or any other equipment all the better, the job will be easier to do. You may also need a special tool for inserting the lug nuts, more on that later in the article.
Also, if you already have the wheels and kept them in storage, like in this case, be sure to check the tire pressure and inflate if needed. This is also a good opportunity to wash the wheels if they’re dirty.
If you’ve bought new alloys, make sure that they are the proper size and fit and that they can actually be mounted on the car.
HOW TO REPLACE STEEL WHEELS WITH ALLOY ONES?
As mentioned, the basic principle of replacement is more or less the same as changing a flat tire.
You have a separate article dedicated specifically to replacing a flat tire, click on the link if you want to read it.
1. SECURE THE CAR
Park the car on a leveled surface, pull the handbrake, and take out the ignition key. If it’s an automatic put the car in park. If you have a stick shift you can put the car in neutral or leave it in first gear provided you don’t accidentally start the car. This is why it’s important to take out the ignition key.
If you have wheel chokes, you can apply them also. The more stable the car is the better.
I would recommend leaving the driver’s window open so you have access to the passenger cabin.
2. RELEASE THE LUG NUTS
Release the lug nuts while the wheels are still on the ground. Otherwise, if you do this while the car is jacked up, you’re at risk of the car swaying and accidentally falling off the car jack.
If you have problems with a stuck lug nut, click on the link to see a couple of solutions for that problem.
Also, if you have hubcaps, check out this article on how to remove and later return them into place.
3. RAISE THE CAR WITH A CAR JACK
As mentioned, we’re using the car jack from the car kit, If you have a more professional hydraulic one even better. Insert the car jack in the place intended specifically for that. You’ll easily recognize these places by the marks, if you don’t see them, look in your car manual.
Don’t use other places on the floor, you can damage the floor and paint which will lead to rust over time.
Raise the car so much that the wheel has at least an inch or two centimeters of clearance from the ground.
4. REMOVE THE STEEL WHEELS
Take off the lug nuts.
Sometimes, the wheel will be sort of stuck, give the tire a few bumps with your hand on the left and right side to release it. If you have rear drum brakes, like in this case, you can use a steel brush and clean the rust and grit off.
5. MOUNT THE ALLOY WHEELS
Mount the alloy wheel on the wheel hub and align the holes for the lug nuts.
Be aware that lots of alloy wheels have thicker central hubs making the lug nuts seem short.
If everything is standard, they are sufficient but they go in deeper into the hub making it a bit inconvenient. This is where the special tool comes in that helps tighten the lug nuts much easier.
The one in this example is a plastic holder for the lug nut that lets you insert it into the hub. Otherwise, you would have to do it with your fingers which is a bit difficult.
This tool comes with the standard tire tool kit, perhaps you may also have one for your car or something similar.
Once inserted, tighten the lug nuts just so they’re snug. Don’t finally tighten.
6. LOWER THE CAR
Lower the car down and pull out the car jack.
7. TIGHTEN THE LUG NUTS
Tighten the lug nuts firmly. Don’t go overboard, about ¼ of a circle after the lug nut is snug should be enough.
if you don’t have enough strength you can use a stronger lever like a metal pipe for instance. Also, a tire wrench with a telescopic handle is a good option.
But regarding alloy wheels and tightening the best thing to use is a torque wrench.
Repeat the same procedure for all the wheels.
Once the wheels are mounted, it would be good to check the tire pressure once more since this time they are under load.
If you’ve had additional caps for the wheel, return them back. Remove all the tools and check you didn’t leave anything around or under the car.
Don’t forget to lower the handbrake and remove wheel chokes if you’ve used them.
As you’ve seen a simple job that you can certainly do on your own. At a normal pace, It all takes about an hour to do.
If you have better tools like an impact wrench, multiple car jacks, or even a car lift, it will be much faster.
Once more, stay safe and always make sure that the car is properly secured.
Knowing how to replace steel wheels with alloys will not only enable you to enhance the looks of your car but also change winter and summer tires, like in this case.
Let’s face it, a set of alloy wheels gives a whole new dimension to a car, even to the most beaten up one.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO REPLACE STEEL WHEELS WITH ALLOYS? YOUTUBE VIDEO