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Linds

Difficulty Removing a Wheel

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I was surprised when the other day I took my Focus (Mk 3.5 with 30,000 miles on the clock) into my local tyre centre to have one (punctured) tyre replaced.  The giant of a chap given the job had the most incredible difficulty getting the wheel off ... it was stuck fast. After about five minutes and having employed the assistance of a mallett of some description he finally won the tug-of-war.  "Don't worry," he said, "just the usual corrosion and in any event this is your first tyre change?"  But it wasn't ... I had all my tyres changed over to Michelins just 5,000 miles ago.

I have to say I have never experienced any problems getting a wheel off a car when I have had to (Rovers, BMW's. Audis, Hondas etc) ... but I am quite sure I wouldn't stand a chance with the Focus.  Is this normal? Is it the car or the standard alloys it came with?

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This is quite normal. The wheel hubs have a flange of 63.3 mm to center the wheel ontot he hub. The wheels have a recess of 63.4 mm. When the wheels are installed there is a very small gap between the flange of the hub and the recess of the wheel. Corrosion between the flange of the wheel hub and the recess of the wheel cause the wheel to seize onto the wheel hub.

In this case the wheel could be removed by using a mallet. In some cases removing the wheel will need a lot more force. A known trick to make the wheel come loose is by unscrewing the wheel nuts a few turns and then carefully driving the car backwards and forwards until the wheel comes loose from the wheel hub.

 

However this problem can be prevented quite easily by applying a little bit of ceramic or copper anti seize grease between the flange of the wheel hub and the recess of the wheel.

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Yes, sticking wheels do happen.

When I buy a car the first job is to remove all the wheels and lubricate the wheel locating spigot.

My last purchase had both rear alloy wheels well stuck on. Nothing I could do when the car was on axle stands would move them at all. I put everything back together and then slackened the wheel nuts on one wheel so that they were loose by 1 turn. A short drive round a big car park loosened the alloy wheel easily. I did the same on the other wheel and they both came off when up on the stands. A bit of a rub to the spigot with emery paper and a light smear of high melting point grease fixed the problem.

Incidentally,you will probably find that the conditions which cause difficulty removing rear wheels will also cause problems later when removing the brake drums.

ScaniaPBman.

Warning. Driving on the public roads with loose wheel nuts is almost certainly illegal.

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1 hour ago, JW1982 said:

This is quite normal. The wheel hubs have a flange of 63.3 mm to center the wheel ontot he hub. The wheels have a recess of 63.4 mm. When the wheels are installed there is a very small gap between the flange of the hub and the recess of the wheel. Corrosion between the flange of the wheel hub and the recess of the wheel cause the wheel to seize onto the wheel hub.

In this case the wheel could be removed by using a mallet. In some cases removing the wheel will need a lot more force. A known trick to make the wheel come loose is by unscrewing the wheel nuts a few turns and then carefully driving the car backwards and forwards until the wheel comes loose from the wheel hub.

 

However this problem can be prevented quite easily by applying a little bit of ceramic or copper anti seize grease between the flange of the wheel hub and the recess of the wheel.

Is this a Focus-wide problem/'feature' or just the Mk 3? I have a Mk 2.5

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49 minutes ago, trailertrash said:

Is this a Focus-wide problem/'feature' or just the Mk 3? I have a Mk 2.5

I've had it with my Mk1 but only with the rear wheels

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1 hour ago, trailertrash said:

Is this a Focus-wide problem/'feature' or just the Mk 3? I have a Mk 2.5

All car brands and models can have this problem.

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1 hour ago, GMX said:

I've had it with my Mk1 but only with the rear wheels

 

1 hour ago, JW1982 said:

All car brands and models can have this problem.

 

51 minutes ago, iantt said:

Lazy servicing . Wheels come off at 2nd service, or should do and any decent tech normally clean up and apply a small amount of copper grease

Many thanks all, looks like I'll be shouting for the AA if I get a puncture and can't shift it then. It's something I should attend to but when it's so ruddy cold outside...

It's not a problem I've run into in 40 odd yrs of motoring but I doubt I've had much more than half a dozen punctures in that time. Done some front-to-back wheel swaps though, must've been lucky!

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Some years ago a friend and I were off-roading some considerable distance from civilisation. No AA where we were.

My 4X4 had a large piece of tyre side wall removed by a rock. No problem we were ready for that sort of thing, but would that alloy wheel come off, not a chance, it seemed to be welded on.

We got a tow rope out, wrapped it round the offending wheel, attached it to the tow bar of the other 4X4 and pulled it at right angles to the first car. It took a hefty tug to move that barsteward. Thinking back now we were luck that we didn't pull the complete axle out.

And we thought we had prepared for every eventuality, we should have checked the wheels would actually come off.

ScaniaPBman.

 

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I have seen this more with alloy wheels. where the alloy comes into contact with steel seems to be bad at causing corrosion. but I had that problem on my 2007 fiesta with steel wheels on also . placing a block of wood behind the wheel and swinging a large sledge hammer at it did the trick. hit once, turn wheel 180 degrees and hit again. best to turn wheel between each strike so it moves off the centre of the hub more evenly. I swear by copper grease.

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20 hours ago, iantt said:

Lazy servicing . Wheels come off at 2nd service, or should do and any decent tech normally clean up and apply a small amount of copper grease

In my case, unlikely.  The car was serviced at 24,750 miles and at 25,000 miles I decided to change all four tyres to Michelin CrossClimates.  So I know for a fact all fours wheels had come off since the last service and no more than 5,000 miles ago.

It's the copper grease that was clearly lacking and which I will ask for in the future!  Thanks, iantt. 

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To all who have answered this thread, many thanks.  On this Forum one learns so much!

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As a boat owner, this is a well understood problem.  Where you mix dissimilar metals the corrosion gets accelerated due to electrolysis.  It even happens with aluminium alloy and stainless steel... so attaching stainless fittings to alloy masts.  There, we use an "isolating" paste called Duralac to electrically isolate the stainless element from the alloy.  I'm surprised that copper grease is used, it's not an electrical insulator

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5 hours ago, Guzzilazz said:

As a boat owner, this is a well understood problem.  Where you mix dissimilar metals the corrosion gets accelerated due to electrolysis.  It even happens with aluminium alloy and stainless steel... so attaching stainless fittings to alloy masts.  There, we use an "isolating" paste called Duralac to electrically isolate the stainless element from the alloy.  I'm surprised that copper grease is used, it's not an electrical insulator

Is that stuff yellow? I'm sure it was duralac I used to use when refitting parts on ships. Last time would have been to fit an alloy life buoy release panel to a steel framework. 

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8 hours ago, stef123 said:

Is that stuff yellow? I'm sure it was duralac I used to use when refitting parts on ships. Last time would have been to fit an alloy life buoy release panel to a steel framework. 

Yep, that's the stuff, gets everywhere, and stains like fury...

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16 hours ago, Guzzilazz said:

we use an "isolating" paste called Duralac to electrically isolate the stainless element from the alloy

How do you deal with the fasteners, for example Monel metal pop rivets?

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4 hours ago, mjt said:

How do you deal with the fasteners, for example Monel metal pop rivets?

Monel is OK, it doesn't need isolation, EXCEPT...the mandrel in pop rivets is usually mild steel...

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What about if you use A4 stainless screws into an alloy spar?

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