Q: My '66 Corvette's knock-off wheels are constantly loosening up on me, and I'm concerned that one might eventually come off while I'm driving. I love the look of the wheels, but this anxiety keeps my ride in the garage and not on the road. The weather is getting perfect for cruising, and I need to know how to keep the wheels on the car. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
A: Back when aftermarket wheel offerings were scarce, racers chose knock-off wheels for several reasons: They were lighter than the steel stockers, they improved braking performance by reducing heat, and the single knock-off nut made for fast tire changes in the pits. Non-racers sought them out because they provided a stylish enhancement to any Corvette's looks.
Your particular situation usually occurs after you've removed the wheels for service, as you might when replacing the brakes or tires. The problem is typically due to improper installation, so never let anyone install your knock-offs unless they have experience working on C2 Corvettes. In addition to installer error, there are certain component failures that could also be responsible for your problem.
Let's start by discussing the proper way to install a knock-off wheel, according to the manufacturer. Next, we'll address some of the mistakes commonly made.
Every set of knock-off wheels should consist of the following components:
&bull Four knock-off wheels
&bull Two lefthand adapters
&bull Two lefthand spinners
&bull Two righthand adapters
&bull Two righthand spinners
&bull Four center cones
&bull Four center caps
&bull Four knock-off lock pins
When having tires installed, make sure the equipment used won't scratch or damage your wheels (Image A, next page). A good wheel balance will help prevent vibration at speed. An unbalanced or improperly balanced knock-off wheel/tire assembly can cause excessive vibration and contribute to wheel loosening.
Make sure you install the wheel adapters on the correct side of your Corvette (Image B). Some wheel adapters are marked "right" or "left." Always remember that these reference points are based on being seated in the driver seat, looking toward the front. With American cars, the left side is the driver side and the right side is the passenger side.
Some wheel adapters aren't marked. If yours aren't, just remember the following:
• On the driver side, the spinner will tighten onto the wheel adapter in a clockwise direction.
• On the passenger side, the spinner will tighten onto the wheel adapter in a counterclockwise direction.
• When tightening the spinner onto the wheel adapter, it will always spin toward the rear of the vehicle, regardless which side of the vehicle you're on.
• When removing the spinner from the wheel adapter, it will always spin toward the front of the vehicle, regardless of which side of the vehicle you're on.