Been wanting to tackle my rusty wheel hubs and protect my alloys with a quartz coating for a while now. That’s obviously a wheels off job. I don’t put a lot of faith in the scissor jack supplied with the car (aka the Widow Maker, this is for emergency use only IMO), so I set about researching the best way to do this safely and thought I’d share my experience in case it helps anyone else. Rusty hubs seem to be a common issue (not just for Audi).
This will be a TLDNR post for some (Too Long Did Not Read), but this detail would have helped me as I set about the task (there will be pictures to keep those less into the detail interested
It is intended to be a ‘Dummies Guide’ (for dummies like me – I’m no mechanic). Some aspects will be ‘teaching granny to suck eggs’ for many on here I’m sure, and I may have over-engineered the safety method, but (a) while the scissor jack and blocks of wood for axle stands approach may work perfectly well for some, it’s not for me and my S3, and (b) if I’m going to do this write-up, I might as well do it properly.
Thanks to @jungle650
for posts he’s made on this subject which helped me a lot. Top forum member.
This is the worst rusty hub of the 4 – and my car is only 2 years old (the others aren’t half as bad as this, but all 4 need sorting!):
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Tools I chose to get the car in the air and the wheels off, and on again, safely:
- Clarke Strong Arm 2.5 tonne low profile trolley jack (CTJ2250LP - good reviews, sensible price, comes with sockets for the wheel nuts) £48
- Clarke torque wrench (CHT141) – to remove wheel nuts and re-tighten them to the correct torque settings (120nm) £30
- SGS 4 tonne (2 tonnes each) ratchet axle stands (with safety pin – most alternatives don’t have the belt and braces racket locking AND safety pin) £32
- SGS protective rubber pads for the axle stands (because why not, has to be better than metal on metal) £6
- SGS wheel chocks. £6
- Trolley jack pad (essentially a ‘hockey puck’ type affair, with a groove cut down the centre to ‘seat’ the jack neatly onto the pinch weld jacking points on my facelift 8V. Got this off Amazon - £6. Can’t post Amazon links on here, but search for ‘TengKo Jack Pad, Universal Slotted Rubber Jack Pad Frame Rail Protector 65mm’
Tools for life – and once they’re bought, they’re bought. All really good kit, although the cheap Tengko jack pad isn’t going to last forever (I’m viewing this as a disposable/renewable item. Better quality ones might be available, but the dimensions worked for the Clarke trolley jack).
Getting the car off the ground, jacking points, and wheels off:
First, remove the wheel nut covers using the plastic ‘tweezer’ tool supplied in the toolkit that came with your car. If you don’t have this/have lost it, the Audi part number is 8D0012244A. The LOCKING wheel nut covers on each wheel need a slightly different technique to easily remove. Pinch the tool on the corners, rather than on the flat faces of the nut cover as shown below:
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Before raising the car off the ground, ‘crack’/take the initial strain off the wheel nuts, but don’t remove the nuts – just break the initial tension. Doing this before you lift the car means the friction contact between the wheels and the ground makes this easier (and safer). This also makes you check you haven’t misplaced your locking wheel nut key before you go any further! All this might sound obvious, but I said this was going to be a detailed write-up
. I lifted and removed both wheels (front and rear) on one side at the same time, so ‘crack’ the tension on BOTH before lifting.
Then use the trolley jack to raise the car. Make sure you are on level solid ground. Make sure your hand-brake is on. Place your wheel chocks, one behind the rear wheel and the other in front of the front wheel on the opposite side of the car.
To get the axle stands under the front AND rear of the car you ONLY need to use the FRONT jacking point – to locate this you’ll see an arrow pointing to it on the underside of your side skirt (see pic below).
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Front axle stand placement shown below. Use the sub-frame as shown – do not use the pinch weld, or any of the plastic floor covers (obvs), or the axle itself, despite the name ‘axle’ stands). Don’t have the axle stand placed under any nuts on the sub-frame.
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Rear axle stand placement (the rubber mount shown here is made for the job, and much easier to place than the front axle stand):
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To be able to place the front axle stand you need to go in with the trolley jack at an angle (as shown in the next pic), so that you have room to slide the axle stand under the car between the rear of the front wheel and in front of the trolley jack. You can’t do this if you go in with the trolley jack perpendicular to the side of the car (without crawling right under the front of the car, which I wasn’t going to do without the axle stands in place).
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With the axle stands in situ, let the jack down (just a little bit) in a slow controlled manner until the axle stands are supporting the weight of the car, but while the jack still has a solid point of ‘contact’ itself. RE-LOCK the release valve on the jack and make sure the jack is still ‘taking the strain’. At this point I had 3 separate and very solid points of contact holding the car aloft on one side (belt and braces approach, but more (x3) contact points can’t be a daft method – safety first).
Then take each wheel off. Once you’ve removed the wheel nuts just be a bit careful when you’re lifting the wheel away from the hub. It would be all too easy to chip the paint on the rear of your wheel, or your brake caliper if you’re not concentrating at this point.
This method worked for me (there may be other ways of doing this). Time for a quick cuppa.
Tackling the rusty hubs:
Materials used and method:
- Give yourself a full day to do x2 hubs on one side of the car (due to paint drying times between coats)
- Ronson wire ‘tooth’ brushes (cheap as chips from Amazon), and sandpaper to get the worst of the rust off
- I used Bilt Hamber Auto Wheels and Surfex HD all-purpose cleanser to deep clean and de-grease the hubs after the rust removal was done
- A 15mm round nosed paint brush from Homebase proved to be ideal for the job
- Hammerite Smooth Silver (250ml tin is enough to do all 4 hubs, with enough left to spare to do 4 other cars – don’t buy the big pot!). I chose the brush-on as opposed to the spray-paint method as I didn’t fancy masking off the entire wheel arch, brake disc and caliper, and didn’t want to stress about potential over-spray. If you’re even mildly handy with a brush and have a half-steady hand, this method works fine and the Hammerite levels itself nicely. The spray-paint method would probably give a better finish if you can be @rsed with the masking prep, but they are wheel hubs at the end of the day – they don’t need to have the same finish as the bodywork. DO NOT PAINT THE FACE OF THE HUB (the flat face that your wheel sits on). There’s no point and this could be dangerous in my opinion as you would be compromising the contact point between the wheel and the hub. When you are painting work relatively quickly, and don’t be tempted to go back and re-brush sections you’ve just done - if you do the the paint can ‘drag’. Nowt to be worried about, but worthwhile practicing on something else before you apply to the hub to perfect your technique . 2 light coats does the job. Instructions say to leave 4 hours between coats, but it was 23 degrees outside today, so 3 hours was ample.
A reminder of 'before':
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I'm not for a second pretending this is a perfect job, but it is a million times better than before, so I'm very happy with the results and that's all that counts.
Deep cleaning the wheels and G-techniq C5?
In between the 2 coats of paint I took the opportunity to deep clean the barrels of my wheels with BH Auto Wheel and Tac Systems Tar Zero (there were some pretty chunky tar deposits on the inside of my rims – Tar Zero is good stuff and a product I can happily recommend). I’m going to have tackle the coating of my alloys with Gtechniq C5 Wheel Armour on a separate occasion as (a) my order didn’t arrive in time and (b) didn’t want to stress test the missus with every minute of today spent on the car. So, wheels off again soon for wheel armour-age. Will post more on this.
Putting the wheels back on the car:
Get what you need in place by the wheel you are putting back on (i.e. your torque wrench and the wheel nuts, including locking wheel nut key). Carefully offer the wheel up and seat it on the ‘lip’ of the hub that you’ve just copper-greased. Hand-tighten each wheel nut (using the wrench socket) and then use your wrench to GRADUALLY tighten each (do one, then it’s opposite number, then work around in this fashion tightening each nut a little at a time so that the wheel ‘seats’ itself correctly back onto the hub). Tighten all nuts to 120nm of torque with your torque wrench. Pop your wheel nut covers back on.
When I repeat this process on the other side of the car tomorrow, I’m also going to use Hammerite Smooth Red (again a 250ml tin) to correct a couple of paint chips on the near-side rear caliper using a cocktail stick to apply. Will still have about 249ml of the tin left when I’ve done this, lol.
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If you’ve read this far and enjoyed/got something out of it, then let me know, and please ask any questions you have. If it helps one person, it was worth spending the time to write-up. Cheers.