Bubbling Wheels



My alloy wheels are bubbling and the local tire place says I should replace them for around $500? Do I have other options? Are they safe?

The tires on my eight year old Lexus 300ES have been leaking. A local repair shop found that my allow wheel rims are “bubbling.” They cleaned the wheels for $20 each. The tires continue to leak, I had them cleaned once more. Recently Lexus suggested cleaning the wheels for $120 each or replacing them at $500 each. A local repair shop said that cleaning would not solve the problem, but offered to replace them for $500 total.

Q1: Can I just ignore the problem and keep refilling the tires or should I expect failure soon? What will go wrong?

Q2: Should I replace with the local tire shop’s $125 wheels? The Lexus $500 wheels? Or should I buy somewhere else for an intermediate cost of $275 per wheel?

Driving: I am an octogenarian who uses the car to travel 15 miles round trip with my wife to the local Wegmans. Sometimes I take long trips to visit my kids (400 miles max).


Ask about a steel wheel replacement. They are less prone to leakage than alloy wheels. If the cleaning didn’t work the first time, I don’t think the second cleaning would do any better. I would also look at tirerack.com for wheels that fit your car and see how that compares to the offers. You can also buy a small air compressor and fill up the tires weekly, unless they are leaking a lot.


Perhaps get a set of steel wheels for less $$?


Alloy wheels can become pourous over time, especially if exposed to the winter elements…like salt.

While I agree that steel wheels are forever, that’s a nice car and I’d suggest looking for some nice aftermarket rims. There are tons of possibilities out there and many are downright affordable.

Happy shopping.


I dunno what your original size rims are, but here some after market rims for a 2000 Lexus ES300:


Don’t even think of buying a compressor to fill your tires weekly. After the second time you will be griping about it. I’m not saying it can’t happen but I have never heard of alloy rims becoming porous enough to leak air. It could be your tires are simply dry rotted enough to leak. Get them changed before you become stranded. Don’t get new rims. You might be able to find LKQ (like kind & quality or used) from any good salvage yard. Try calling Keystone. They sell remans for $179.00 each/ $50.00 core. Locations across the country. Call 309-698-0700 for a toll free number for a close location. No I do not work there but I buy plenty from them.


I agree. I can’t see how alloy wheels can get porous enough to leak air and not fall apart. But it does sound like you need new tires. You should be able to get very good tires for about $100 each.

If you really have to replace the wheels, get steel wheels, much stronger and much cheaper.


Alloy wheels DO become porous around the bead area and create a loss of air pressure. The tire bead won’t seal.

Most times wire brushing does even more damage and you wind up replacing them anyway.


I have never heard of alloy rims becoming porous enough to leak air

Well it does happen. Not that uncommon. The really good alloy wheels don’t have much of a problem, but few people are willing to pay those prices when the much cheaper (not cheap in my book, but cheaper than the really good ones) are heavier, weaker and often (maybe not often, but more often than they should) leak.