Most car owners, especially car enthusiasts, usually want to make their cars look better. The easiest way to do this is by installing aftermarket wheels on the vehicle. Whether you own a small compact car or a huge sport-utility vehicle (SUV), shiny new wheels are always an attention-getter.
While changing your stock wheels to better-looking aftermarket ones is a fairly simple operation, many of those who do this make a very common mistake among themselves.
They almost always forget to install hub centric rings on their aftermarket wheels. This do-it-yourself automotive maintenance guide will be useful for car owners who want to change their vehicle’s factory wheels to aftermarket wheels. It can also be useful for SUV owners. The instructions in this guide are applicable to most, if not all, vehicles, regardless of brand, model, or year.
For those who don’t know what they are, hub centric rings are those rings you put in between the hub of the vehicle and the center bore (or hole, for those non-technical people out there) of the aftermarket wheel. They are designed to fill the gap or space created when putting the new wheel onto the hub. Of course, there are some aftermarket wheels that are sized perfectly for certain car models, but most wheel manufacturers just bore a big hole in the center of the wheel in order for the wheel to fit as many car models as possible. As a result, your wheels and hubs are no longer hub-centric. This causes plenty of vibration at the wheel and hub assembly, and may possibly cause damage to your vehicle, not to mention make you lose control of your vehicle and cause an accident. This is when the hub centric rings come in.
Hub centric rings are usually made from durable, heat-resistant industrial plastic or metal such as aluminum. As mentioned earlier in this guide, hub centric rings fill the gap between the hub and the new wheel. Installing hub centric rings will ensure that your car’s new wheels are centered properly on the wheel and hub assembly hereby lessening or eliminating vibration altogether.
To install hub centric rings, you first have to find out the size of the hub centric ring you will need. There are automotive parts websites that sell hub centric rings, and some of them have a search engine that allows you to match the part or parts you need to your vehicle. In this case, you select your car make, model, and year, together with the wheel manufacturer, wheel model, and wheel size, and input it into the search fields. If they have the correct hub centric rings for your vehicle, it will appear in the results.
If you’re buying the new wheels at a reputable aftermarket shop, they would most likely have the hub centric rings in stock, and may even include them with the wheel purchase and fitment free of charge. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you want to know the exact size of the hub centric ring to use, you can make the measurements by yourself. Take a vernier caliper and measure the wheel bore where the walls are parallel to each other. This will give you the outer diameter of the hub centric ring. List this down, then take a ruler or tape, then measure the outer diameter of your car’s wheel hub. This is the inner diameter of the hub centric ring. The ring you buy should match the measurements you made; the larger number for the outer diameter of the ring while the smaller number is the inner diameter.
Once you have the correct rings, follow these steps:
Step 1: Loosen (just loosen) the wheel nuts (or bolts, usually on European brands) on your vehicle. Raise the car properly using a jack stand or car lift. Take the necessary precautions when the car is lifted (especially when using just a jack), like putting a jack stand underneath the vehicle for extra support.
Step 2: Totally loosen the wheels nuts or bolts from the wheel and set these aside. Remove the wheel from the vehicle.
Step 3: Clean the hub of the vehicle, first using industrial cleaning spray, then soap and water, then back again to the industrial cleaner. Make sure there is no grime or foreign particles on the hub. Also, check the inside of the new wheels to make sure that they are clean.
Step 4: Place the hub centric ring in front of the hub then slowly slide it on. Make sure the hub centric ring is fully seated and not twisted or distorted in any way. Twisted or distorted rings will make it difficult to put the wheel on.
Step 5: Place the new wheel onto the hub and bolt it on. Finger tighten the nuts or bolts.
Step 6: Perform the same thing on the remaining wheels.
Step 7: Take the jack stands (and anything else such as tools, etc. from underneath the vehicle and lower it carefully. Tighten the nuts or bolts properly. Check your manual for the proper torque values in tightening the nuts/bolts. If you can’t find the manual or it does not state the figures, torque the nuts or bolts to 140 Newton-meters (approximately 105 foot-pounds). This is the torque value used by most experienced professional technicians.
Step 8: Take the vehicle out for a test drive. Take note of any vibrations. If there are any, check the wheel again as you may have installed the parts incorrectly, then repeat the same process.
After installing hub centric rings on your car, it might be a good idea to take your car to a wheel balancing center, just so you know your wheels are properly balanced.
While you can always pay an experienced, certified mechanic to perform jobs like this, it will never compare to the awesome feeling you get by doing the job on your own.