I have a 2003 Infiniti FX45 with 145,000 kilometres on it. My tires (20-inch low profile) are always losing air, especially in cold weather. How can I correct this? – Arnie
When your aluminum wheel corrodes, it oxidizes, leaving behind a white powder residue. Continuing to degrade from the years of harsh elements, small pits/pockets develop. The mating surface where the rim and tire meet and seal is called the bead. Pitting on the rim's bead surface area brings about a path for air to slip through.
Most tire shops will grind the corrosion from the rim area and apply a vulcanizing rubber compound to promote a positive seal between the two. While this grinding is not the best for the longevity of the rim, it works well as a short- to medium-term solution, becoming less effective as the wheel ages and pit size increases.
Once the repairer can no longer offer an in-house sealing solution, the wheel can be sent out to a refinishing specialist that will access the overall condition and recommend a repair. This process typically costs about $125 a wheel. Your repair/tire shop will likely be able to offer a referral for a local wheel refinisher.
While not as common, cast aluminum can sometimes be porous, with the tiniest of pinholes allowing air to slip through the wheel body. A refinish may be possible, but replacement may be necessary.
Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.
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