Beginner's guide to swapping wheels

redlinederby Saturday, 4/28/2018
Site manager

Swapping wheels from one car to another is probably one of the first modifications you'll do when starting out. It's pretty simple and a good foundation for building speed.

This article adapted from an original thread from 2015. Photos by 72_Chevy_C10.

Finding replacement axles and wheels

The first step is finding a donor axle/wheel pair that will match-up nicely with the chassis you have picked out. Ideally, finding a same-model car with FTEs or the likes is easier, but you don't have to find the same car. Just look for cars that have same axle width, and if possible, wheels of the same size.

Take apart the cars

Once you have the cars you need, take them apart. Use our Beginner's Guide to help.

Remove the axles

Removing the axles from the chassis is a pretty easy step. Most chassises are plastic so you can use a hobby knife to slice through the little tabs holding down the axle. If you have a metal chassis, you may need to use your Dremel to grind down the tabs...just becareful that you don't cut the axle in the process.

Fit in the new axles

With the old axle removed, drop in the new axle. Pay attention to alignment and the distance of the wheels from the chassis. You'll want the same amount gap space for each wheel. 

Use clay or putty to hold the axles in place while you test fit the body and do other modifications you need. Check the wheel well on the body and make sure there is no rubbing on the wheels. You may need to grind away some metal to get clearance.

Don't forget to test, test and test your placement on your track. And before you put things in permanently, check out our extra tips and tricks for making cars faster.

Affix the new axles

Once you're confident the axles are in the right spot, use a few dabs of JB Kwik to affix the axles to the chassis. I recommend you use some sort of jig to keep things straight. Even some pencils or straws will do the trick...just make sure they're straight. Flip the car over and put some weight on top to keep things tight.

Ready to roll

With your axles in place and your body ready to go, put your car back together and start breaking it in.

Wait! What if I don't have any good donor axles and I need to make my own? 

That's a good question and it's a scenario you'll likely come across at some point. Check out our article on how to make your own replacement axles.

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