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Tirerack warranty policy questioned

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Initial post: Dec 5, 2011 10:58:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jul 30, 2012 2:44:39 PM PDT
Seeker says:
edit: After replacing the wheels from Tirerack with the original wheels and tires, I haven't had any studs broken and have worn out those tires.....any suggestions on where to buy tires.....other than Tirerack, of course.............

edit: All work done on this vehicle was either done by professionals, or verified to be accurately done, by professionals. The wheels and tires were sold as correct for the vehicle by Tirerack and verified to be correct. The problem is NOT with the wheels, although if the wheels had performed as they should there would not have been any problem. The REAL PROBLEM is with the denial of warranty by Tirerack.

original post: I bought a set of mounted tires for winter use from because the originals that came on my Legacy GT liked to hydroplane and were not very snow worthy.

The tires that I bought were great, but the wheels came up short to the point of being dangerous. They were Kazera alloys with a chrome finish on part of them. After one winter the chrome, which extended into the mounting holes, started to flake off. The warranty states that tirerack has liability for some remedy for 18 months on the chrome and substantially more time on the wheel integrity.

Apparently, the chrome coming off of the inside of the mounting hole created corrosion and a wobble in the wheel which was so slight that I didn't even notice it. Eventually I had a lug snap off, which made it obvious that there was a corrosion problem. The other 19 nuts were difficult to remove, but it got done and the stud was replaced and the wheels reinstalled. I called tirerack and reported the corrosion problem, mentioning that the reason I had noticed was because of a broken stud. This was well within a year of purchase. To make a long story short, I had a continuing problem with corrosion and with studs breaking, eventually having three break at the same time on one wheel. Tirerack was informed of each time. They continued to deny any fault being the wheels. After the three studs broke at the same time, I asked for the wheels to be warrantied. They denied it because by then the warranty on the chrome was out of date, and they claimed that this is what was causing the corrosion and stud breakage.

The wheels are now resting in my garage with practically new tires on them.

Got to say.....IMO.....check the manufacture dates on any tires from tirerack, because if they treat customers this badly on their wheels they will probably be shady in other ways.......

edit: the wheels came with nuts from tirerack as well. The corrosion between the nuts and the wheels was so bad that it was difficult to remove them, even after the first stud broke. Also, after the three studs broke at the same time, there was noticable loss of metal on the inside of the wheel mounting holes. Before that, only the chrome had noticably come off.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2011 2:55:35 PM PST
JackV says:
I don't see how the chrome coming off, etc. causing a wobble that then snapped the lugs. Sounds more like improperly fastened nuts. I've seen lugs snap off because they were over-tightened. Don't think a "slight wobble" that you don't notice can cause that.

Who installed the lugs and were they torqued? If by tirerack, then they did not install correctly. Chrome issue is not related to lugs breaking off. You'd notice the amount of wobble it would take for that to happen.

Usually overtightened lugs break off when you go around a corner. Is that when they broke?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 8:02:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 6, 2011 8:03:11 AM PST
Dean says:
This doesn't make any sense. I've owned a hundred cars and never broke a wheel stud, that's due entirely to excess torque or defective studs. If the lug nuts were torqued correctly you should be talking to Subaru not Tire Rack. Chrome flaking would not cause a wheel to "wobble", and if it did you would certainly feel it. The chrome is not more than a few thousandths of an inch thick. A wobbling wheel in my opinion would not break studs, I've seen some seriously bent wheels run for years with no issues regarding the studs. As for corrosion, well, apply a little grease now and then and it won't be an issue. All wheels are prone to corrosion, it should not affect their function.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 2:38:09 PM PST
Seeker says:
I've NEVER had an issue with studs breaking....ever, until I bought these wheels. I installed the wheels the first time and after the first stud broke, I had it replaced at a dealership during which they rotated the tires. They use a torque extension socket designed for installing lug nuts. I then had another stud break after about two more months. Again the stud was replaced at the dealership. When the three studs broke at the same time I was out of town so I had a local garage install them and I watched them use the same type of tool. I limped the car home and put the original tires and wheels on it and haven't broken a stud since.

The vibration I mentioned is just speculation on my part. It's the only explanation I can come up with for the studs breaking. I just assume it has to be metal fatigue. Also, the corrosion inside the mounting holes, between the nut and the wheel, was so bad that it was difficult to remove the nuts. The nuts were also supplied by tirerack.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 2:44:46 PM PST
Seeker says:
Have you ever had so much corrosion that it was difficult to remove the nut? The nuts were supplied by tirerack as well.

Since putting on the original wheels I haven't broken a stud and that was over 40K miles ago.......

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 5:02:25 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 6, 2011 6:23:24 PM PST
JackV says:
Well, doesn't make sense so far. Maybe you had a defective torque wrench? If it's not a beam type, meaning a "clicker" one, those need to be recalibrated. I don't trust those out of the box without verifying they are working correctly.

I've seen people tighten lug nuts too much and they broke the studs, just like you describe.

If the wheels had an alignment issue that shows up on a wheel balance. So far, everything point to either too much torque or (as L Carr noted) defective studs. I tend to lean towards too tight since you also mention they were difficult to remove - which happens with overtight nuts that gouge the metal.

Were these wheels the same as the stock wheels in terms of the nut seating area?

Posted on Dec 6, 2011 6:17:29 PM PST
Carl G says:
If they had been German Tires on a German car installed by a German, yada, yada, yada....
(meant as a joke)

Posted on Dec 6, 2011 6:48:56 PM PST
Dean says:
If corrosion is really the issue, I would suggest making sure there was a liberal coating of grease on the back of the wheels, the studs, and the stud cavities. You could use silver anti-seize grease if appearance is an issue. I can't imagine why it's corroding so bad, I live in a corrosive environment (Minnesota), and I've never had a problem with aluminum wheels having any serious corrosion.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 6:59:35 PM PST
JackV says:
Corrosion won't break studs - except if the stud had corrosion cracks. Have never seen that so far. The anti-seize is a good idea or use grease with moly (same as for ball joints, bearings), not quite as messy.

Posted on Dec 6, 2011 8:10:42 PM PST
Dean says:
I suspect what might be happening, after giving it some thought, is that the corrosion is between the wheel and hub, and as it expands it pushes out and increases stress on the stud enough to crack it. Once again, a liberal coat of grease should stop this. I'd also clean and paint the parts as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 8:31:00 AM PST
Seeker says:
So you are saying that it can't be the wheels, even though they caused a corrosion problem at the seating area and the metal deteriorated as well? And even though the original wheels have never had an issue?

The torque tools used were different each time, pretty long odds of them ALL being defective.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 8:36:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2011 8:46:28 AM PST
Seeker says:
Me neither. The corrosion really took me by surprise. I actually wonder if it was the chemical relationship between the chrome plated alloy and the chrome plated nuts that caued the chrome to flake off of the wheels. There were also pitted places on other surfaces of the wheels eventually, but the alloy was noticably deteriorating in the mounting holes at the point that I removed the wheels for the last time. I only kept the wheels on in the winter months and after five studs breaking in less than two seasons I had enough.....

Tirerack initially declined my warranty claim based on the chrome being the visible part of the wheel that was being affected and that it was just cosmetic. They said that it had nothing to do with how the wheels seated or that it had nothing to do with the integrity of the wheel. I say bull----! The chrome flaking off, as well as the corrosion inside the mounting surfaces and causing the alloy to deteriorate had to be a factor.......

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 8:39:37 AM PST
Seeker says:
I'm surprised that you and the others seem so willing to blame anything but the wheels. Why is that? Especially after I have had no issues with anything before or after removing them......

Posted on Dec 7, 2011 9:41:48 AM PST
Dean says:
Are these wheels made in China by any chance?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 11:11:29 AM PST
JackV says:
Long Distance Voyager says: I'm surprised that you and the others seem so willing to blame anything but the wheels.

Because I've never heard that happening from corrosion -but maybe something else. The only thing that remotely could cause this is that the torque spec you are using is meant for the stock wheels (whatever they are made from) and these wheels use a thicker or different aluminum that expands more with temperature.

Also, unlike steel, if you install aluminum wheels in a cold temperature, you need to consider the expansion that occurs as it warms up. It could simply be this expansion that is breaking the studs.

I agree it's weird. I'd get the torque spec used and then getting the spec from the wheel manufacturer. That may not be the same as the stock wheel since often the nuts are different. That actually made me think of one more thing that could cause this - if the angle of the seat is steeper, this will increase the force on the stud. So knowing the wheel manufacturer torque spec is important.

Chrome flaking is just a poor chrome job.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 1:53:20 PM PST
Seeker says:
LOL.....I have no idea......but that's a good question. My issue is with the warranty being denied. It's a safetly issue. How many others have had studs break and were they going freeway speeds?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 2:04:14 PM PST
Seeker says:
Maybe I'm not being clear.....The wheels were installed and it was several months before the first stud broke. At that time, the corrosion was so bad that it was very difficult to remove the nuts. The inside of the wheel mounting holes had uneven surfaces due to the chrome and corrosion flaking. Tirerack insisted that it wasn't a problem and I reinstalled the wheels. A couple of months later a stud broke and the corrosion was so bad that it was difficult to remove the nuts. This is in a pretty short time. The seating surface had a void underneath between the stud and the wheel which was filled with corrosion to the point that it gripped the nut extention surface, and they had to be cleaned of with a wire grinder. The wheel holes had to be chipped out with a tool and cleaned with a wire wisk on a drill. By the next year when the holes corroded again, the holes were out of round from corrosion to the point that you could see it with your eyes. That's when I quit believing tirerack.

By the way, I had waxed the wheels before the initial installation to prevent corrosion.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 5:02:19 PM PST
JackV says:
Can you post a closeup picture of the stud hole somewhere? Do you drive on a salted roadway?

It does sound like a poorly made wheel and not a good aluminum alloy. Have never had corrosion in such a short period and never inside the "hole". From a distance (haha) I'd say these are defective wheels at least from the corrosion side. Take them to small claims. It costs very little and if you get your facts straight, you should get at least a refund. I'd go for even more if you had to interrupt your schedule to fix all this. Take the wheels to court and get a wheel expert to testify that this is not normal.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2011 8:30:42 AM PST
Orbital says:
Legacy GT is a Subaru...Japanese tires on a Japanese car installed by a Japanese. HA!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2011 9:40:44 AM PST
Seeker says:
Good suggestions......and I also like the idea of posting this so others are warned about tirerack. They shouldn't get away with selling garbage and then denying the warranty they offer as a sales tool.......

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2011 9:44:07 AM PST
Seeker says:
Fifth Subie I've owned and I've gotten great service out of all of them. I don't know what you drive, or consider a better car, but I would bet that my experience with my Suburu's is better than yours when it comes to reliability and expense to keep the car on the road. They are also fun to drive.........if you drive them hard enough.......

Posted on Dec 12, 2011 10:33:10 AM PST
Seeker says:
Sooooo, any others out there that have had problems with tirerack?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2011 6:34:32 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 12, 2011 6:36:39 PM PST]

Posted on Dec 13, 2011 12:16:21 PM PST
Seeker says:
Sooooo, any others out there that have had problems with tirerack?

And David.......why the deletion?

Posted on Dec 15, 2011 8:22:59 AM PST
Dean says:
As a general note, most all wheel manufacturers do not consider corrosion from the environment a "defect", and will not warranty it. The breaking studs would be considered "incidental damage", not covered either, though the wheels are obviously made of some kind of low-quality alloy, that alone would not make them defective under the terms of their warranty.
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Discussion in:  Automotive forum
Participants:  21
Total posts:  89
Initial post:  Dec 5, 2011
Latest post:  Jul 30, 2012

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