Guidelines for Aftermarket Wheel Installation
It is the installer’s responsibility to correctly install wheels and related accessories. These Guidelines are from the Wheel and Tire Council. While we consider the information in this guide to be reliable, various factors can lead to installation issues. Consider letting us do the installation for you as we have specialized in wheel and tires and have since 1996!
MAXIMUM LOAD RATING & MAXIMUM TIRE DIAMETER
The load rating is of a wheel is specified by its manufacturer & must not be exceeded. Manufacturers identify a wheel’s maximum tire diameter & load rating – this information can be found on the backside of a wheel or from the wheel manufacturer. DO NOT USE THE WHEEL ON THE VEHICLE IF THE LOAD RATING IS NOT AVAILABLE. Wheel load rating requirements are determined by dividing the vehicle’s heaviest gross axle weight rating (G.A.W.R.) by 2. Typically the axle weight rating can be found on the identification label located on the trunk lid, driver’s side door jamb, glove compartment, or gas tank door.
WARNING: EXCEEDING THE MAXIMUM LOAD RATING OR MAXIMUM TIRE DIAMETER OF THE WHEEL IS UNSAFE & COULD CAUSE WHEEL FAILURE, RESULTING IN DAMAGE, SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH. INCREASE OR DECREASE IN TIRE DIAMETER ABOVE OR BELOW THE ORIGINAL TIRE DIAMETER MAY AFFECT ROLLOVER & H&LING CHARACTERISTICS.
WHEEL FIT CHECK
Before mounting tires perform a wheel fit check at each wheel mounting location using the following steps:
- Remove front wheels from vehicle.
- Clean & examine all stud threads & mounting surfaces before installation.
- Remove spring clip retainers, if applicable.
- Hold the new wheel on the hub & make sure that the wheel mounts flush to the mounting surface of the vehicle. The backside of the wheel should not rest or touch brake drums balancing weights, any brake caliper, suspension component, rivets or obstructions. Removing drum balancing weights to alleviate wheel fitment problems may result in vehicle vibration not remedied by an off-the-car wheel balancer.
- Install three fasteners finger tight & rotate the wheel to check caliper & suspension clearance & to find bent flanges or axles.
- Now do the same check for the other three wheels on the vehicle, beginning in the rear.
WARNING: Often Spring clip retainers are overlooked & need to be removed. Failure to remove clips or other obstructions will result in not letting the wheel sit flush against the mounting surface. A false torque reading will occur which could cause the fasteners to become loose & result in loss of a wheel. Note that not some vehicle manufacturers do not use spring clip retainers & use nuts that hold the brake assembly together. THESE NUTS MUST NOT BE REMOVED.
WARNING: Do not modify the wheel. Spacers & adapters never resolve fitment problems. The use of spacers or adapters to fix clearance or modification of the wheel may result in hazardous conditions.
ENSURE YOU HAVE THE PROPER FASTENERS, CENTER CAPS & WHEEL LOCKS DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR THE WHEEL & APPLICATION BEFORE INSTALLATION.
CENTER CAPS: The two basic types of center caps are either inserted from the back of the wheel or attached from the front. For the type inserted from the back, always make sure the flange of the cap matches the wheel’s chamfer & is below the mounting surface of the wheel. If the flange of the cap protrudes beyond the mounting surface of the wheel, it will not let the wheel seat properly. If this occurs, you an incorrect torque reading & the fasteners can become loose.
WARNING: THE WHEEL & TIRE MUST MATCH BEFORE INSTALLING. WHEELS & TIRES ARE MARKED WITH THEIR SIZES.
- Install all tires in accordance to the The Tire & Rim Association book & FMVSS120 wheel fitment. There are various br&s & types of tire mounting equipment available for installing tires on aftermarket wheels, including the rim clamp (euro style) & centerpost machines. To circumvent any scratching or damaging a wheel during dismounting/mounting of tires, ensure the tire machine is properly adjusted & the necessary protective covers are in use where metal-to-metal contact is made. For your safety protective eyewear is a must & should be used throughout the mounting/dismounting, installation & servicing of wheels, & related parts.
- The tire manufacturer’s recommendations & requirements must be observed.
- Tires may be labeled with a color dot (such as painted marks or label, usually in red) that indicates the high spot of the tires maximum runout or the expected force variation location. Align this with the wheel’s low-runout spot, which can be identified with a colored dot or small notch. Labeling varies so check with the wheel manufacturer’s instructions for more about their low-spot identification.
- Usage approved tire mounting lubricant on both tire beads & apply to the bead seat area of the wheel if required. 5. Be careful that the bottom bead breaker on centerpost changing equipment does not hit the bottom of the wheel as it travels upwards.
- Place tire & wheel into mounting safety cage & do not exceed 40 pounds of pressure when seating the tire to the bead of the rim. If the tire bead doesn’t seat on the wheel with 40lbs of pressure, DEFLATE, TURN 180 degrees, RELUBRICATE & check for tire/wheel size mismatch before re-inflation. Don’t inflate the mounted tire with the center-post hold-down cone or rim clamps tightened on wheel. Loosen the hold-down cone, but do not completely remove, & release the rim clamps to let the tire exp&.
- Once beads are seated, install the valve core, reconnect the air chuck, set the air regulator & continue to inflate the tire until the manufacturers recommended pressure is reached. Check the bead edges & the valve for leaks, & then install the valve cap.
DO NOT ST& OVER THE TIRE/WHEEL ASSEMBLY (TRAJECTORY ZONE) DURING THE INFLATION. ST& TO THE SIDE. NEVER THIS LEAVE UNATTENDED.
Tire-to fender clearance or tire-to-suspension clearances are not covered by wheel manufacturer warranties. These clearances need to be fit-checked before mounting the tires. On some “plus” applications rubbing & scuffing may occur. The following procedures must be followed:
- Mount a single tire on a wheel intended to be used on the front of vehicle.
- Install the tire/wheel assembly on the front hub & with the vehicle still on the lift, turn the steering from far right to far left whilst checking for any interference with the fender well or suspension components.
- Lower the vehicle & repeat Step two with the weight of the vehicle applied.
- Have someone “bounce” the front of the vehicle & check for tire rub. DO NOT PUT H&S, FINGERS OR ANY BODY PART BETWEEN THE TIRE & VEHICLE WHILE CHECKING.
- Mount one tire on a wheel intended for use on the rear of the vehicle.
- Install the tire/wheel assembly on the rear hub & check for interference, especially when on the ground & being bounced. Check that wheel balance weights do not contact suspension components & that tires do not contact fenders.
- Balance tire/wheel assembly according to the balancing machine manufacturer’s recommended procedures, following ALL safety precautions.
- To reduce tire wear, road noise & vibration, all four wheels should be balanced.
- If you have problems in balancing, review the steps under Wheel Fit Check. Some balancing problems may be remedied by deflating the tire & rotating it approximately 180° on the rim, re-inflating the tire & rebalancing.
- Inspect & clean all stud threads & mounting surfaces before the installation. Threads cannot be lubricated, & need to be free of corrosion, rust, burrs, fractures & damage. Replace if any corrosion, stripping, damage, or fractures are found. Only use new fasteners (lug bolts or lug nuts) when installing new wheels.
- Be certain the fasteners are correct for the application. They must match the thread diameter, pitch & seat; otherwise the installation will be improper, & may result in damage or a dangerous condition. The diameter of the stud is known as “Thread diameter” which is measured at the outer edges of the threads. For non-metric applications “Thread pitch” denotes the number of threads per inch; for metric applications, it is the distance between the threads in millimeters. The “seat” means the area on the wheel where the fastener will clamp down.The basic types of seats are: conical (60° taper “acorn” & “bulge”), mag, & spherical or ball. Shown below is a drawing of each type in its proper application.WARNING
ONLY USE THE TYPE OF FASTENER COMPATIBLE WITH THE TYPE OF SEAT.
Why? These different types are incompatible &, if installed incorrectly, the fastener can lose torque, & may result in wheel loss.
- Check thread engagement. Every stud or bolt must be long enough to thread a length at least equal to the stud or bolt diameter. As an example, a 1/2″ thread diameter needs to thread into the lug nut at least 1/2″. Check for this problem on every stud; some may be different lengths. Less than one stud thread diameter engagement is unsafe & will cause loss of torque. DO NOT INSTALL IF YOU DO NOT HAVE PROPER THREAD ENGAGEMENT.
- Do not allow a lug nut to bottom out on the stud or a shank or lug bolt to bottom out on the mounting surface. This is extremely dangerous & unsafe because the clamping force of the fastener is not being applied to the wheel. Check for these problems on every stud, some may be different lengths. DO NOT INSTALL WHEELS IF A PROBLEM IS FOUND.
- Never use fewer fasteners than the vehicle was designed for. Use 5 fasteners, if the vehicle has 5 studs or lug bolt holes.
- Usually gravity causes the wheel to rest upon the highest stud during installation. A wheel clamped down off-center can be dangerous & damaging to your wheels & tires over time. Don’t allow the wheel to “hang” on the studs during the initial tightening; make certain the wheel is centered & supported prior to tightening fasteners. Fasteners must be tightened in a star or crisscross pattern to ensure uniform pressure & alignment. Apply torque evenly which can be done by repeating the crisscross or star pattern until desired torque is reached. Shown below is the numerical sequence.
- A CALIBRATED TORQUE DEVICE NEEDS TO BE USED TO ACHIEVE PROPER TORQUE SPECIFICATIONS.
- Use Original Equipment Manufacturer’s torque specification. Contact the vehicle manufacturer if it is not stated in the vehicle owner’s manual. Check with the aftermarket wheel manufacturer for a specification in the case where the vehicle manufacturer does not provide a specification, If neither the vehicle manufacturer nor the wheel manufacturer gives you the specification, the following may serve as a guideline for passenger cars & light-trucks only:
- Test new fasteners against the vehicle wrench ensuring they are same size. If the new fasteners have a different hex size than the wrench provided with the vehicle, be sure to have (or advise the customer to have) with the vehicle a wrench matching the new fasteners being installed.
- If the new fasteners have a different seat than the original equipment, make sure you keep enough of the original fasteners with the spare tire/tire changing equipment so if needed the spare tire can be mounted with the correct fasteners.
- Multi-piece wheels require extra care when mounting tires. These wheels may have a special silicone sealant between the rims & the centers. Tire mounting tools cannot touch this seal. If a tool contacts this area, the seal can be damaged & cause a leak.
- When the tire valve is close to the seal, use caution in installing & removing the valve to prevent damage to the seal.
- DO NOT TIGHTEN WHEEL ASSEMBLY BOLTS. They should be torqued at the wheel factory to manufacturer’s specifications. If any appear loose, get in touch with the wheel manufacturer
DISCLAIMER: It is the installer’s responsibility to correctly install wheels and related accessories. The information contained in these Guidelines is believed to be reliable, but many factors can lead to installation concerns. The installer must review all available manufacturer information, test fit each wheel before mounting tires to ensure clearance with suspension and braking components, and check all load ratings, offsets and clearance before installation. Neither SEMA, WTC nor their affiliates are responsible for installation errors or the information compiled for these Guidelines.
We also have a Wheel and Tire Term glossary.