How to Install Wire Wheels

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Wire wheels are a popular dress-up option on vehicles, although many years ago wire wheels were standard equipment. Wire wheels have been made since the early 1900s, but today knock-off wire wheel kits are available that can be installed on most modern vehicles. With minor modifications and a few tools, you can install wire wheels on your vehicle to give it a retro look.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydraulic jack
  • 4 jack stands
  • Lug wrench
  • Measuring tape
  • Hacksaw
  • Grinder with cutoff wheel
  • Wire wheel kit
  • Grease
  • Raise the vehicle with a hydraulic jack, and place jack stands on all four corners of the vehicle. Take off the existing wheels by removing the lug nuts in a counter clockwise direction with a lug wrench. Make sure there is a flat mounting surface for the wire wheel adapters by removing any grime or other obstructions from the wheel hubs or brake drums.

  • Use a measuring tape, and make sure the length of the wheel studs is no longer than 1 1/8 inch. Use a hacksaw or a grinder with a cutoff wheel to cut the wheel studs to the correct length.

  • Place the wire wheel adapter plates onto the wheel hubs. Ensure the left-hand adapters are placed on the driver's-side wheel hubs and the right-hand adapters are placed on the passenger-side wheel hubs. Remove any obstruction that prevents the adapters from fitting flush against the hubs.

  • Attach the adapters to the hubs with the vehicle's original lug nuts. Run the lug nuts onto the studs by hand, and tighten them in a crisscross pattern with a lug wrench in a clockwise direction. Tighten the nuts to the specified torque indicated in the instructions for the wire wheel kit.

  • Remove any protective covering from the wire wheel adapter threads. Apply grease to the adapter threads, the wire wheel nut threads and the tapered edge of the back of the wire wheel.

  • Place the wire wheels onto the adapters, and push them on until the teeth on the ratcheting drive engage. Rock the wheel back and forth if needed.

  • Thread the left-hand wire wheel holding nuts onto the driver's-side wire wheels, and the right-hand nuts onto the passenger-side wire wheels by hand. Tighten the nuts in the direction indicated on the nuts with the hammer provided with the wire wheel kit. Spin the wheels to make sure they are not loose or rubbing against anything.

  • Remove the jack stands, and lower the car using the hydraulic jack. Tighten the wheel nuts with the hammer until they cannot be moved. Recheck the tightness of the wheel nuts after driving the car 25 miles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove clips, balancing weights or rivets from the wheel hubs or brake drums that would prevent an even fit for the wire wheel adapter plates.
  • Instead of cutting off the wheel studs, use the spacers supplied with the wire wheel kit to ensure the wheel studs do not protrude more than 1 1/8 inch. However, the spacers will increase the vehicle's track by extending the wheels outward the width of the spacers.
  • If your wire wheels have octagon holding nuts, use a wrench and hammer to tighten the nuts. Place the wrench on the wheel nut and strike the other end of the wrench with the hammer in the direction indicated on the wheel nut.

References

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