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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 12-01-2007, 06:44 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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DIY: Removing Stuck-on Alloy Wheels

I had my first occasion to remove a wheel on my E46 today, thought I would pass along a problem and the eventual solution that I came up with. KrisL please comment, is this common I wonder?

Anyway, I had discovered last week I had a nail in my left rear tire. It was down to 21 psi, so I pumped it up until I could sort it out today.

I chocked the front wheel, then jacked up the car with the service jack. I removed the wheel bolts, but the wheel would not come off.

I tried a soft-faced mallet, but the wheel would not budge.

Eventually, what I did was to gently lower the car on the jack so that the wheel was taking some of the weight of the car. I never let it off the jack completely, but this was enough to be able to shift the "stiction" that the wheel was suffering and allowed me to get a thin screw driver in and gently lever the wheel away from the hub.

(I got the tire plugged ok, turns out it was not a nail but a bolt broken off in the tire. Yikes.)

I noticed after I got the wheel off that the interior of the hub had rusted/corroded where the alloy wheel sat. I take it there was some kind of electrolytic reaction between the cast iron of the hub and the alloy of the wheel... I smeared a very thin layer of grease on the hub landing to prevent this from happening again, although I guess I have this same problem to look forward to with the other three wheels.

Glad I did not have to buy another tire, they are down to about 4 to 4.5mm depending on where I measure the rears, so its not far away though.

Was this ok? What do other people do if their wheels stick on?
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2007, 06:58 PM
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Yep, that's just fine.

Step 1 is always kick the wheel/tire really hard. really hard.

if that does not work, proceed to step 2, which is what you described - lower the car onto the wheel. I think it's even OK to drive it back and forth a few feet with the lug bolts loose.


I always grease my hubs whenever I remove my wheels. I remove them to clean them fairly regularly, and they always fall right off.
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  #3  
Old 12-01-2007, 09:03 PM
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What you`re experiencing is called "Galvanic Action", a chemical reaction between dissimilar metals (steel/iron hubs & alloy wheels), which actually bonds the two together to an amazing (and alarming) degree. If you live in an area that gets snow, the salt spread on the roads intensifies the effect.When changing wheels, it`s important to clean hubs & wheel mating surfaces (a wire brush works well), then coat both mating surfaces with a thin coat of white Lithium grease, wheel-bearing grease, etc.This will make things a LOT easier next time around. To free those stuck wheels (rears are *always* ten times harder than fronts), jack up the car so there`s about an inch of daylight under the tire (lugs removed, of course :-), then take a short piece of 4 x 4 lumber, and lay it on the ground up against the edge of the tire, and with the biggest hammer you can find (my 4-pound sledge does the trick) whack the living piss out of the 4 x 4, alternate inside to outside, `til it comes free.

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  #4  
Old 12-01-2007, 09:11 PM
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I keep a 4-lb small/short handled sledge hammer in the back of the car just for this purpose. Even with grease on the hub, I have one wheel that just won't come off without whacking the living daylights out of the perimeter of the tire with that hammer. But it works...
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  #5  
Old 12-02-2007, 04:41 AM
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Thanks all...good to know I was doing it ok.

Fast_Bob - You get my vote for most appropriate use of descriptive English language in a car-guy post -- succinct and to the point.
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  #6  
Old 12-02-2007, 09:27 AM
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Guys/KrisL - Assuming it was ok, I submitted an entry to the E46 wiki with the collected thoughts here.
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2007, 09:47 AM
ktc ktc is offline
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Reminds me of last year when I drove the entire salty winter season in Boston with one center cap off one of the rears. This spring, I had the exact same problem -- I had my car up on 1 jack (no other supports), and I was beating the living snot out of that wheel without it budging. The entire time I watched the car sway back and forth on the jack with every hit, and I was trying to pry the thing loose with all my might while praying that the jack won't fail.

I know, very stupid of me. Plus I was at a remote storage site (where I store my wheels) and there wasn't anyone else around

Oh well, still here, got all digits and toes. It took me like 20 minutes of sweating and cursing and I was ready to just give up and drive home on 1 snow and 3 summer tires.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2007, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrisL View Post
Yep, that's just fine.

Step 1 is always kick the wheel/tire really hard. really hard.

if that does not work, proceed to step 2, which is what you described - lower the car onto the wheel. I think it's even OK to drive it back and forth a few feet with the lug bolts loose.


I always grease my hubs whenever I remove my wheels. I remove them to clean them fairly regularly, and they always fall right off.
I leave on one lug nut that has been loosened and then whack the tire with a 4x4, works every time.
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Old 12-02-2007, 10:44 AM
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Do you guys put anti-sieze (not sure of the spelling) compound onto the lug bolt threads before putting them back on? I just changed to snows and didn't think about doing this.
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  #10  
Old 12-02-2007, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffreyslc View Post
Do you guys put anti-sieze (not sure of the spelling) compound onto the lug bolt threads before putting them back on? I just changed to snows and didn't think about doing this.
I always clean the threads well with a wire brush, but I don`t grease `em, cause it affects the ability to get an accurate torque setting.

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  #11  
Old 12-02-2007, 11:46 AM
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Not on the bolts, but a little around the hub won't hurt. I do this to help wheel swaps go easier. Be sure to use a brush to remove the rust first, a dremel works nicely too.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2007, 12:41 PM
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Addendum:
The best tool I`ve found for cleaning lug bolts & bolt holes is the cheapie battery-post-cleaning tool commonly found at auto-parts stores.... it comes apart in two halves, a female wire brush side (for the bolts), and a male side (for the holes)....works real well.

Regards,
Bob
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  #13  
Old 11-03-2012, 02:10 PM
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Old post, but just saved me much frustration and a tow.

Whacked away at my rear wheel with a small sledge and 2X4 and off the wheel came.
Now to figure out why it's leaking.

Thanks Bimmerfest.
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2012, 06:59 AM
rruiter rruiter is offline
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Originally Posted by Wagons View Post
Old post, but just saved me much frustration and a tow.

Whacked away at my rear wheel with a small sledge and 2X4 and off the wheel came.
Now to figure out why it's leaking.

Thanks Bimmerfest.
I've had some bad experiences with chromed wheels. They corrode where the tire seals and cause it to slowly leak. The tire shop was able to clean it up and put something on it to prevent it and so far so good no more leaks.
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