How to protect expensive alloys

Most of us have been there, hearing that tell-tale scrape as you get too close to a kerb. Even if you haven't experienced it, it's a fear that most car owners have, especially when you've got expensive alloys on your car.

Alloy wheel damage usually comes from parking up against a kerb, getting too close to one while turning a corner, or hitting a deep pothole. While it's possible to repair alloy wheels, some kinds of damage may need a full replacement. Supercar alloy wheels will set you back thousands per wheel, more if you have a rare or very high-end car.

If you want to avoid hefty costs, it's best to protect your wheels against damage.

How to avoid alloy wheel damage while driving

Changing your driving style is a good first step, although not foolproof. If you're worried about your wheels, avoid having to park alongside a kerb. If you've got not choice, you need to work on your parallel parking technique - preferably in a car with less valuable wheels or in an area with a dropped kerb (although don't leave your car there as a dropped kerb usually means access is needed!).

Of course, there are times where a scrape against a kerb is unavoidable. Maybe you're avoiding a collision when another driver veers into your lane, hit a hidden pothole, or you have to take drastic measures to get out of the way of a dangerous driver.

You could be the best driver in the world and those kerbs will still jump out at you.

Use rim protectors

Alloygator is perhaps the best known alloy wheel protection. It's a nylon strip that's attached to the surface of the wheel near the tyre. This creates a barrier between your precious wheels and whatever hazards you might come up against.

In order to fit these you need to jack your car up and deflate your tyre so the protector can be attached at the edge of the rim. If you're unsure what's right for your car, pop into your local Bush Tyres branch for advice.

A cheaper brand is Rimblades and they're much easier to fit yourself. Although, because they simply stick to the outside of you wheel to create a barrier, you may go through them pretty quickly.

Whichever brand you choose, rim protectors come in a variety of colours so you can match them to your wheel or tyre colour. Or you can choose a bright colour that matches another element of your vehicle, such as the paint work.

Watch how you wash

If your wheel cleaner of choice tells you to wash it off within a few minutes, it's acid based and this can cause damage to your wheels by eating through the lacquer that protects them. If you insist on using these kinds of cleaners (they are wonderful at lifting off brake dust), make sure you wash them off within the recommended time to avoid damage to your wheels.

If you take your car to a high end detailer, your wheels are usually safe but beware of cheap side-of-the-road hand-wash services. While this will get your car clean, they don't necessarily focus on quality and many use cheap products that may not be suitable for a beloved car.

Prepare for winter

Winter is hazardous for cars from slippery roads that can send you careening into a kerb, to hidden potholes caused by the cold weather. You also have to contend with low temperatures and salt on the roads.

Make sure your wheels (and paintwork) are prepared for winter. Most alloy wheel manufacturers will have a preferred sealant. This is a product that will help to protect your wheels from the salt and dirt on the roads during winter.

These sealants work much in the same way that wax works on the bodywork of your car and are great at protecting your alloy wheels. They create a barrier against harmful contaminants to reduce corrosion.

If you have very expensive alloy wheels but don't want to store your car for the winter, consider a winter set of wheels. A set of steel wheels running winter tyres might not look great but the extra weight will help with grip and you won't be too upset if you do come across an errant kerb or pothole.

Make sure you drive carefully, watch what you're putting on your wheels, use the right kind of protection, and prepare for winter. This will help to protect your alloy wheels. If you're unsure what's best for your particular car, give Bush Tyres' alloy helpline a call on 01507 225098.

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