Dear Car Talk:
I'm a loyal reader and grateful for your respect for women readers and their questions!
I own a 2005 Honda CR-V with 125,425 miles. It's in good shape. The worst feature on the car right now is rusted wheels. I have fairly new tires and am wondering if it's worth replacing the wheels before I need new tires again.
My mechanic says the wheels haven't rusted all the way through, but they look bad. I don't want a safety issue with wheels rusting all the way through. Is it important to get original Honda parts?
This has been a great car, and I don't want to get rid of it. But is it worth making this investment in a 16-year-old car? -- Rita
This is probably just a cosmetic issue, not a safety issue, Rita. Kind of like my four chins. Based on your mechanic's comments, my guess is you have a bunch of surface rust on your wheels, and it looks ugly. You want it to look better.
Since they're rusting, I assume you have steel wheels, rather than the optional alloy wheels. So, you have several options.
The cheapest solution would be to have your mechanic sand your existing wheels and spray paint them silver. If you really want to go cheap, he could do it without even removing the tires. But then you might have to use a Sharpie to cover up the excess silver splotches on your tires. And the front fenders.
So, to do it right, he should remove the tires, have the wheels sand-blasted and painted and then remount the tires once the paint is dry. And those wheels will look 95% better than they do now. From a distance, they might even look perfect.
But for not much more, you can buy a brand-new set of after-market wheels. If you Google "original steel wheels for 2005 Honda CR-V," you'll find perfect replicas of your original wheels for prices ranging from about $75 to $100 per wheel.
We found a good selection at CARiD.com, and all you have to do is pick the ones that match the size and style of your current wheels. I'm sure your mechanic would help you pick the right ones if you ask him. When you factor in shipping and tire mounting, you're probably talking about $500, give or take.
There's no reason to buy them from Honda, if Honda even sells these wheels anymore. As you know, the wheel was invented some time ago, so other companies have had plenty of time to perfect it.
And, if you love the car, and the rusty wheels bother you, you should absolutely make the investment. It'll make you happy every time you walk up to the car, and that's worth $500, isn't it?