Last update:

11/07/2005

  Care of Alloy Wheels

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Whenever one offers advice about cars or car care, there will always be someone who will snort contemptuously and say I knew that!

So may I say right now that what I include here is the result of my own experience in dealing with the Ultima. My experiences have cost me money and caused some inconvenience and I feel it might be of value to others. I am not trying to teach grandmother to suck eggs if you have better advice then stick to it!

The Ultima alloy wheel is a beautiful design, IMO, and greatly enhances the appearance of the Scorpio. It is a 6.5J rim, 16 diameter and normally carries a 225 tyre, Z rated for the 24V (which can cruise at 140mph.) It is not interchangeable on to earlier Granadas because it is bolted with four wheel nuts instead of 5.

Its smooth radiused edges and spokes makes it very easy to keep clean with an ordinary sponge, unlike other earlier Ford designs which could be a nightmare to keep free of brake dust. There is a lacquer layer over the surface of the wheel which protects the metal and maintains its shine.

The following is advice I offer to help the Scorpio owner.

bullet   After a few months the wheel will lose its sparkle. Grime, minor scratches and tar spots will be too stubborn for a wet sponge. After washing use a good quality wax car polish and a soft cloth and lightly polish the surface using the cloth wrapped over one or two fingers. This will remove spots of tar and minor surface scratches and help to throw off water, and does not take as long as you might think. Never try to polish a dirty wheel; the cloth will pick up tiny pieces of grit and score the surface.

bulletOnce a year in the autumn use a protective coating, like Turtle Wax Wheel Protector. This acts like'Rain-X' and helps to prevent the brake dust from settling on the wheel.

 

Wash the wheels regularly to keep the lacquer coating free of brake dust. This dust can be corrosive, eating into the lacquer so that the appearance becomes blackened. Once the dust has eaten into the surface abrasives have to be used before the blackening is cleaned off and with the lacquer removed the metal becomes dulled and patchy. When washing use a wet sponge and plenty of fresh water, otherwise the brake dust can be picked up and could scour the surface.

On the right, a week of touring in the Peak District has left the wheels black with dust - and it waits to etch into the lacquer with the heat of the brakes and the rain ...

Washing the flat face of the wheel first, and now working round the inside of the spokes. Plenty of water keeps the grit from marking the wheel.
Now working a small sponge round the rim and behind the spokes cleans these and prevents dust collecting there. This stops a run-off of dirt from the back of the wheel collecting in the corners of the spokes and starting to corrode.
Here are the three stages of cleaning:

1. Wet sponge and leather off (Weekly)

2. Polish, (Quarterly)

3. Surface protector, (Annually, in the autumn)

... and the result - no, not a new wheel. This wheel is original with the car, built in October 1995 and has been spinning away on the front of the car for 116,000 miles and 9 years.

New tyre? Er, no. Fitted in March 2003, it is 17 months old in this photo (see below).

Protect the Tyres, too.

Now dont forget those tyres. If you have the 24V Cosworth you should have Z-rated boots on, and they are expensive. To protect them tyre manufacturers actually recommend a light coating of wax, rather than one of the many tyre cleaners which you can buy. Cheapest and most  effective (IMO) is ordinary shoe polish applied with an old shoe brush. Buffed up lightly, the polish brings the tyre to a nice black shine which does full justice to the bright alloy wheel. It helps to keep the rubber clean by throwing off water and protecting it from road salt and UV from the sun.

Getting the Hump

Take great care when driving over speed humps. The wheel is deeply dished leaving the inner rim unsupported so that the soft alloy is easily flattened if you hit a speed hump or other obstacle too fast.  The photo right shows an Ultima wheel it is waiting for refurbishment because of a flattened inner rim!  The outer rim is well supported by the spokes, but as you can see from the ruler there is about 5 (120mm) of dish on the inner rim which makes it vulnerable to damage. For the same reason, I would advise against running up over a kerb for parking etc. Damage can be caused at a very low speed. Note: a flattened front wheel rim will show as a slight wobble on the steering at low speeds. On the rear, a flattened wheel will cause a drone at high speed, the loudness depending on how severe the flattening is, and may also make the CD-changer prone to skipping on uneven surfaces. See Roadwheel Repairs

For the Perfectionist

If you intend to show your car, for the very best effect consider removing the wheels and cleaning and lightly polishing the inside of the wheel. The reflection from the bright alloy behind the spokes and around the inside of the wheel rim dramatically improves the appearance of the wheel. (You normally see them only when the inside surface is covered with dirt and brake dust.) I noticed this effect when I fitted my new wheel and I was astonished at how dramatic the difference is.

On the right, a photo of a wheel cleaned in this way. The flash bounces around the inside of the wheel and has a dazzling effect. No, I haven't used photo-effects: this is how the wheel looks. Obviously, this sort of effort would only be for very special occasions.

For a look at Alloy Wheel options for the Scorpio go to Alloy Options

EricR

 

 

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