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2001 Corolla Ce - Keep Bending Wheels?

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Hey people,

I recently bought a 2001 Toyota Corolla CE Auto with 130,000 miles on it (purchase early this year).

When I bought it, I noticed it had a bit of a wobble to it. So I took it in, they said I needed new front Rims. So I went to the junkyard, bought used rims, the guy that installed them said they were straight.

A couple months later, I noticed a wobble in the rears. So I took it in, and they said all the rims were bent (including the front ones). So I went to a different junkyard, bought 4 rims.

3 months later, it starts to wobble. I take it in, they tell me I have bent front rims. WTF??

I drive it around 35 miles a day on the highway, very rarely do I ever take it on a backroad (gone camping with it I think twice). The worst bump I hit is a railroad as I turn onto the highway. I have heard that Corolla's Rims bend really easy. I drive this car everyday, and am tired of this problem.

So here is my question: What rim should I buy that is better than these crappy stock steel rims? I was looking at OCz Rims ... but does anyone have a better suggestion?

To bend the OEM steel wheel takes some hit. Since you have gone through so many sets, used ones from the pick and pull place, I would suspect that they were bent to begin with. But to "see" a discernible wobble in the wheel, that is really out of spec.

If you were running a low profile tire - I can see having bent wheels. But to bend all 4 four wheels on OEM steelies, that takes some doing. I've been through some pretty rough terrain in my own 2002 Corolla on OEM and aftermarket alloys - only ones that I've had a real problem was with the low profile wheels (running a 45-series tire or smaller).

As for Corolla's having a tendancy to bent wheels - my experience tells me it is no different than other manufacturers.

Some quick questions -

What tire (make, model, and size) and tire pressures are you running?

Did you swap the same set of tires onto the all the wheels in question?

How often do you rotate the wheels?

Use a torque wrench to double check the torque on the lugs?

To bend the OEM steel wheel takes some hit. Since you have gone through so many sets, used ones from the pick and pull place, I would suspect that they were bent to begin with. But to "see" a discernible wobble in the wheel, that is really out of spec.

 

If you were running a low profile tire - I can see having bent wheels. But to bend all 4 four wheels on OEM steelies, that takes some doing. I've been through some pretty rough terrain in my own 2002 Corolla on OEM and aftermarket alloys - only ones that I've had a real problem was with the low profile wheels (running a 45-series tire or smaller).

As for Corolla's having a tendancy to bent wheels - my experience tells me it is no different than other manufacturers.

Some quick questions -

What tire (make, model, and size) and tire pressures are you running?

Did you swap the same set of tires onto the all the wheels in question?

How often do you rotate the wheels?

Use a torque wrench to double check the torque on the lugs?

 

Here are the answers to your questions, as best I can.

1) stock is185/65R14, but I believe I have R15's on there now (thats what I had on the car when I got it). The brand is goodyear, not sure on the actual model (don't have the car handy)

2) No, when the first set was bent, they said I had bad tires. So when I first bought the car, I purchased 4x new tires (goodyear)

3) They have been rotated probably 4x times in the last 6 months

4) No, I don't use a torque wrench. I just occasionally check them to make sure they are still tight.

Even with 15" wheels, still looking at a 55-series tire (195/55-15), still plenty of meat between the wheel rim and the road. Sometimes upping the air pressure helps too - increases the load capacity of the tires, adds more "cushion" at the expense of worsening the ride quality slightly. Especially with Goodyear tires, have to play around with tire pressures a bit, otherwise I find they run on the soft side.

Definitely look into a torque wrench. OEM specs for both steel and alloy is 76ft.lbs for the lugs. You'd be surprised how much you can tighten those lugs by hand, shops with impact wrenches - even worse. Doesn't sounds like a big deal, but tightening them even a little bit too much can lead to funny behavior down the road. Same goes for uneven tightening or if there is any corrosion on the center of the wheel, top of the hub. May not lead to bent wheels, but could lead to wheels that will not track true.

They also allow a fair amount of slop in a steel wheels. Even brand new ones may not run 100% true.

How did you notice the bent wheels? Was there funny tire wear, just noticed it visually, or was there vibration in the cabin?

Did any run any testing, like measuring On-Vehicle/Off-Vehicle Radial Runout Measurements, On-Vehicle/Off-Vehicle Lateral Runout Measurements, any measurements of the wheel runout? Basically, did the technicians give you any numbers for how much the wheel was bent?

Most manufacturers spec a maximum radial runout 0.040" and a maximum lateral runout 0.045". Alloy tolerances are even tighter, some spec a max at 0.030" or tighter. The whole rotating assembly (tire, wheel, fixed to car) can have a max runout (radially, laterally) of 0.060".

Thanks for your input!

I noticed because a vibration. When I first got the car, it was all out of alignment, the tires had worn funny - so its wandered, shuddered, and got a little squirly in wet conditions. But the last couple times, I could just feel a vibration @ around 60-70mph.

And no, the technician never gave me details, other than they put it in a balancer and you could obviously tell it was off.

So here is my question - I read in some places that "if you bent a steel wheel, you're going to bend an alloy wheel". Yet anytime I look at technical data (wikipedia, tireRack), they all say alloy is a stronger wheel. I don't mind buying nice alloy wheels, but I don't want to be moving backwards.

A lot of that depends on the alloy wheel. Alloys "can" be stronger than steel wheels, but they also have much lower threshold for radial and lateral runout. This means that even though alloys are stronger, material wise, they are much more sensitive to any deformation. Think of it as alloys being more brittle than steel. One good pothole or road debris, doesn't matter if you are running the strongest, forged alloy out there, you can bend them.

The link you have posted is from a reputable manufacter of wheels. In that particular model, that uses low pressure castings. Better than other alloys wheels in its price range and how many better OEM wheel manufacturers have the wheels made. Allows for lower porosity, more homogenous material throughout the wheel = stronger than your garden variety cast alloy. But this doesn't make it any less susceptible to road hazards.

Get the alloys if you like them, and enjoy all the benefits of less unsprung and rotational mass - don't get them to solve a bent wheel issue. If the road conditions are such that you end up with bent wheels all the time, then the same thing will likely happen to the alloys.

Too bad the technicians didn't give you any detailed information. How the wheel was bent, can tell you much on what caused that problem in the first place. If it was due to a road hazard, tire issue, suspension related problem, etc. If you still have the bad wheels, I'd try and see if the shop has a Hunter GSP9700 Wheel vibration Control System and run it on that. The system pretty much runs itself, and find and solve some of the most stubborn vibration issues. That should yield the numbers that will help you figure out and potentially put an end to the bent wheel problem, assuming that it isn't a feature of your daily commute.

if its just a minor bend in the inner lip of the steel wheel, quite honestly you can use a block of wood and a large hammer to 'bend' it back into well enough shape to balance and ride just fine on the car. next time ask them to show you the bends in the wheels.