My tires leak constantly, & my brother has hot brakes

March 1, 2011 | By Richard Prince


I have two questions. First, is there a solution to stopping the air leakage on the rims of my 2003 PT Cruiser with the 17” chromed wheels? I have to put air in one or two of them at least every two weeks, sometimes more often. Furthermore, it’s almost never the same tires that are low. My local Chrysler service department told me it has been a problem for years. Corrosion in the wheels behind the tire bead causes the tires to lose pressure. At the dealer’s suggestion, I’ve had the tires loosened on the rims, the rims cleaned and the tires re-inflated. This works for a while but then it starts again.

The second question is about my brother’s 1999 Ford F-150. Like Jerry Doyle of Ridgedale, Missouri (October issue), he has hot brakes, namely the front brakes. He has had trouble with them for several years now. The truck has ABS and the pads don’t release from the rotors all the way and drag slightly.

He’s resurfaced the rotors and installed new pads a couple of times. He also replaced the front rotors. Now he has replaced the front brake lines and that seemed to help one brake but not both. One time the brakes got so hot he couldn’t leave a parking lot because they locked up on him. He said he’s heard of others with the same problem but there has been no recall by Ford that he knows of.


Wheel corrosion and resultant air loss is a common problem with the PT Cruiser’s chrome wheels.

You can try dismounting all of the tires and comprehensively refinishing the rims in the areas beneath where the tires sit. That entails getting all of the plating off and starting with bare metal. The fastest way to do this is probably to mount the wheels on a balance machine and hold sandpaper against the inner part of the rim while it spins. Once the chrome is sanded off, clean the wheels and refinish them with a corrosion inhibiting primer and catalyzed epoxy paint. You will, of course, have to be very careful to not damage the chrome face of each wheel when you sand and refinish it. If you are willing to give up the chrome altogether you can have the wheels chemically stripped by a plating shop and then refinished with high quality substrates and paint. You obviously also have the option of replacing the wheels entirely with aftermarket units.

Your brother’s dragging front brake problem in his 1999 Ford F-150 is also rather common.

The cause can usually be tracked to an obstructed line or hose. Sometimes you can see the problem, for example a twist or kink in the line or hose. Other times the obstruction is internal and can’t be seen with the naked eye. It’s also possible that the sticking brakes are due to a problem in the master cylinder or calipers. Some Ford calipers have phenolic resin pistons and these seem to be more prone to seizing or sticking in their bores.