Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Tom asks: I have alloy wheels on my 2007 Lacrosse and the right front loses 5 lbs. every two days. I have had this before on another car, I think it’s the wheel. My wife bought a used 2000 Subaru Legacy. All four tires keep losing pressure – 15 psi or so from each tire every two weeks. The dealer blames it on the aluminum wheels, saying “aluminum wheels leak.” Another shop noticed some small cracks on the tire sidewalls and says the tires may be leaking pressure through the sidewalls. Do you have an opinion? What can I do about it?
My reply: The dealer is correct, sir! (Best Ed McMahon voice). Aluminum wheels can and sometimes do leak; it is a common problem. I have the same problem with the passenger side front wheel on my ’02 Frontier. It loses about 10 lbs. of pressure over 2-3 weeks, if I don’t keep after it.
And the problem is almost every late-model car has aluminum wheels – chiefly, so reduce weight so as to eke out some fuel economy savings. At our expense, of course.
Including the expense of greater fragility vs. steel wheels, which can take a bad pothole or curb strike that would damage or even ruin an alloy wheel. And of course, the alloy wheel is much more expensive to replace than the steel wheel.
What can you do?
There are two options. One is cheap but entails hassle. It is to regularly check the pressure in your tires and top them off as needed. If you have leaky wheels, you might have to do this as often as once a week.
Option two is to buy a new wheel – which will be warranted. If it leaks, you can return it for a new one until they get you one that doesn’t leak.
Meanwhile, the almost 50 year-old steel wheels that my ’76 Pontiac came with still don’t leak.
. . .
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