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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone here repainted/reconditioned alloy wheels? Bought a used set for winter tires, and there's a bit of corrosion under the paint in a few spots, especially around the plastic center covers. They have some "curb rash" as well. Thinking that although it's really cold already, this would be the time to do it, before mounting new tires on them.
 

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Winter wheels are going to get corroded anyway, so not worth more than a sanding and painting. I use black steel rims for the winter on our family van, and my van has old Explorer wheels on it that I cleaned/sanded and repainted the beads before putting tires on. The steel clips of wheel weights on aluminum wheels cause pitting in the aluminum, corrosion creeps in and causes bead leaks. Sometimes the pitting is so bad once the corrosion is wire wheeled off, the voids have to be filled with JB Weld and sanded smooth before primer and paint.
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This is the "before" and you can see the rough surfaces where the weight clips used to be. These were cleaned with a twisted wire cup on an angle grinder, and wiped down and marked so I'd know where to apply the JB Weld.

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These rims I actually fixed up to be my good summer wheels, but I did the same thing to my winter wheels. The paint gives the tire a nice smooth surface to seal to, and protects against salt that might creep in. I try not to use clip-on weights on aluminum rims. Most times I run used tires, so I don't even get the tires balanced. Doesn't seem to cause issues unless the tires are pretty new with a lot of rubber to throw the balance off.

The black steel rims I can clean up with the twisted wire brush cup, prime and paint black and they look great. I use extra spray paint of whatever color on the rear beads, as nobody will see it. The front bead gets black. I also replace the valve stems if I'm doing a thorough restoration, or they look old.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I did intend to get steel wheels, and there was a set at a "steal" price in the larger area that had been listed for around a month, but I was still trying to decide if dropping down to a smaller wheel size was a good idea, mostly in respect to finding a tire that would not throw off the speedometer & odometer too much. Then when I was ready to buy them, they were gone. The same seller had this set of alloys, twice the money, but still a good price, so I went with it. I was a little disappointed, because I had planned to try a custom touch with the wheel covers on the steel wheels. (Actually I wanted to see if I could find a way to attach hub caps, and then also "beauty rings". Probably only the old-timers will know what I'm talking about.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Another question: What do you all think of running spacers on the front wheels?

(There is a bit of caliper interference, a bit less than 1/4". The thinnest spacers are 5mm. But this would push the wheel out far enough that the wheel would no longer engage the flange on the hub. (So in my thinking, that would make it "lug bearing", not "hub bearing". Not crazy about doing this.)
 

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I don't know which gen van you have (which affects the bolt pattern), but I've used spacers on the front of my vans for caliper clearance. I used a 10mm sandwich spacer on my chrome 2000 Limited wheels to fit them onto 4th gen brakes. I used longer studs with those and didn't have problems with vibration, even though the spacers were not hubcentric. I just had to carefully tighten the lugs with the wheel off the ground so it would center on the studs, then let the van down slightly so the wheel made contact with the ground to final torque the lug nuts.

When I got my 4th gen van and wanted to use Ford Explorer Limited rims, I needed a thicker spacer. I got a pair of hubcentric spacers around 14mm thick, longer studs, and extended thread lug nuts to fit them. I got them from ebay, and they are actually for a Charger/Challenger because the 115mm pattern is very close, the holes are big enough to work with that difference, and the centerbore is the same.
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For my winter steel wheels I use Ford Explorer chrome plastic center caps that snap onto the lug nuts. Since the Ford lug nuts have a different thread and won't work, I use the GM lug nuts with external thread and still have a ring that sticks out to secure the factory wheel covers (like Cavaliers, Corsicas, base model Grand Ams use). All I'm missing is trim/beauty rings too! They would probably just rust or corrode anyway. They would have to be kept waxed. Yeah, I'm starting to miss the "dog dish" hubcaps that used to be on some cars. (y)
 
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