Why Do Skateboard Wheels Turn Yellow?

Disclaimer: TheRiderBuddy may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article at no extra cost to you.

Last Updated on November 19, 2022

A skateboard’s wheels are an important part of the riding experience, and it’s no surprise that skaters take care of them by keeping them clean and free of debris. But have you ever noticed that over time, the wheels start to turn yellow?

There are a few reasons behind this: the skateboard wheel is made of plastic. As a result, they can start to break down, and when it does, it releases a yellowish substance.

In this blog post, I’ll describe what causes skateboard wheel yellowing and whether or not there is anything skaters can do to prevent it.

What Causes Skateboard Wheels to Turn Yellow?

Skateboard wheels can experience a yellowing effect due to several reasons. One of the most common reasons is the material used in them. Moreover, aging, wear, and tear can also cause it to fade away from its original color.

Polyurethane

Skateboard wheels turn yellow because of the way they are made. They are manufactured of Polyurethane. A hard type of plastic coated with slightly softer rubber.

This rubber material is Elastomeric Polymers. That helps protect the hard plastic from wear and tear, but gradually it will start to break down and turn yellow. When this happens unacceptably, it’s time to replace the wheels.

Oxidation

The process of oxidation occurs when the oxygen in the air reacts with the material of the skateboard wheel, causing it to change color. This process happens slowly and is accelerated by exposure to sunlight and other elements.

While some skateboarders like the yellow color of their wheels, others may not be so fond of it. However, there is no need to worry, as the process is purely cosmetic and will not affect the performance.

Exposure to Sun

Exposure to the elements and sunlight accelerates the discoloration process. In addition, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can break down the bonds between the molecules in the plastic, causing it to change color. Over time, this can make the wheels more brittle and prone to cracking.

Aging And Uses

Age can cause skateboard wheels to turn yellow. The plastic will degrade and become discolored. Another reason they turn yellow is the friction against the ground. This will cause the plastic to heat up and change color. Some of them are also made with yellow pigment.

Stain And Dirt

Steadily, the build-up of dirt, grime, and other debris will cause the wheels to turn yellow. If they are not cleaned on a regular basis, this can cause them to fade.

Pollution

Other causes of yellowing can include contact with certain chemicals or pollutants in the air. Skateboarders who live in areas with high levels of smog or industrial pollution may notice their wheels turning yellow more quickly than those who don’t.

Moreover, it is also possible that some chemicals or cleaners used on the skateboard may cause the wheels to be yellow. 

Poor Quality Bearings 

The type of bearings used in the wheels can also contribute to this problem. Poor quality bearings can allow dirt and moisture to enter the wheel, which can cause staining and a change of color.

If bearings are not properly lubricated with high-quality lubricant, this can also lead to yellowing of the wheels.

How to Clean Yellowed Skateboard Wheels?

You can do a few different things to clean your wheels and restore them to their original color.

Identify Why It’s Turning Yellow

You’ll need to identify the type of yellowing that has occurred. If the discoloration is superficial, meaning it’s just on the surface of the wheels, you can likely remove it with a simple cleaning solution.

If it is more profound, it’s likely that the discoloration has penetrated the pores of the wheels and will require a more heavy-duty cleaning solution to remove. You can find these solutions at most hardware or automotive stores.

Once you’ve identified the type of yellowing, follow the instructions on the chosen solution to clean yours. While yellowed wheels can be cleaned, it’s important to note that the process can be somewhat time-consuming and may require multiple rounds.

Step 1: Prepare Cleaning Solution

Mix a solution of one part dish soap with four parts water or mix one part baking soda with two parts water. Use a soft bristle brush to scrub the mixture into the wheels.

You can also use a commercial skateboard wheel cleaner. These cleaners are designed to clean and brighten everything.

Step 2: Disassemble The Wheels

Start by removing them from the skateboard. This will make it easier to clean.

Step 3: Clean Dirt And Debris

Once they are disassembled, remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the wheels. You can do this by wiping them down with a damp cloth or using a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away any build-up.

Step 4: Dip in The Cleaning Mixture

Soak the wheels in cleaning solution water for 10-15 minutes.

Step 5: Start Scrubbing

Dip a clean rag into the soapy water and begin scrubbing the wheels. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean those. Pay particular attention to any areas that are especially dirty or yellowed.

Step 6: Continue Scrubbing

Scrub each wheel until it is clean. You may need to use a toothbrush or other small brush to get into the crevices. 

Step 7: Clean with Water

After you’ve cleaned everything, be sure to rinse them off with water. You may need to do this a few times to remove all the soap. Then, dry them thoroughly to prevent any further damage. You can also let them air dry.

Step 8: Repeat If Necessary

If the wheels are still yellowed after the initial cleaning, you can try soaking them in a mixture of vinegar and water for 10-15 minutes. 

Step 9: Reinstall

Once everything is dry, you can put them back on your skateboard and enjoy your clean wheels!

How Can You Prevent Your Skateboard Wheels from Turning Yellow?

You know how frustrating it is when your wheels start to turn yellow. Not only does it look bad, but it can also affect your performance. However, there are a few things you can try to prevent them from turning yellow.

Clean the Wheels Regularly

The first step is to make sure that you clean your skateboard regularly. This means that you should wipe down the deck and trucks after every session and wash them with soap and water at least once a week.

You should also avoid riding in dirty or wet conditions, which can cause the wheels to discolor. You can try using wheel wax or polish to help keep them looking new.

Stock The Board in Dark Place

Another way to help keep your wheels from turning yellow is to store them properly. Skateboard wheels are made of urethane, which is a material that is sensitive to sunlight and heat.

Therefore, keeping your skateboard in a cool, dark place when you’re not using it is essential. This will help prolong their life and keep them looking new for longer.

Avoid Wet And Rough Conditions

Avoid riding in wet conditions as much as possible. Skateboard wheels can absorb water and dirt, which can lead to staining and discoloration. If you must ride in wet conditions, clean your skateboard afterward to remove any dirt or grime that may have been picked up.

Also, don’t grind them on rough surfaces. Wheels can be scratched and scraped, leading to staining and color loss. If you ride on hard surfaces, inspect them afterward for any damage.

Purchase Special Wheels

You can buy wheels that are specifically designed to resist yellowing. These are usually made of a more complex resin compound, which helps them withstand the elements better. If you’re concerned about your wheels turning yellow, this is an excellent option to consider.

Avoid Contact with Chemicals

Keep away your wheels from harsh chemical contact as much as possible. If you must skate in an area with chemicals present, try cleaning them afterward to remove any residuals.

Besides, you can try using a wheel protectant. These products are designed to create a barrier between the wheel and the detrimental elements and can help prevent discoloration. Don’t use harmful chemicals or cleaners.

These can damage the material of the wheels and cause them to lose color. Always use a mild soap and water solution for the cleaning procedure.

How Long Do Skateboard Wheels Typically Last?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on various factors, such as how often you skate, what type of terrain you skate on, and how well you take care of your skateboard.

Skateboard wheels typically last anywhere from one to six months, depending on how often they are used.

However, most experts agree that they usually last between one to three months with regular use. If you are a more casual skater, your wheels may last longer. Conversely, they may wear out more quickly if you frequently skate on rough terrain.

A wheel’s lifespan will also depend on the type of skateboarding you do, how often you skate, and the quality of your wheels. For example, if you only ride occasionally on smooth surfaces, they will last longer.

Ultimately, inspecting everything regularly and replacing them when necessary is crucial to ensure optimal performance and safety. When looking for new wheels, it is important to pay attention to both the size and hardness of the wheel, as these can affect how the skateboard rides.

Proper maintenance can also help extend the life of your wheels.

Be sure to clean them after each skating session and store them in a cool, dry place to prevent premature wear and tear.

Are There Any Risks to Having Yellow Skateboard Wheels?

Most skateboarders don’t give much thought to the wheels on their boards. While the risk of your wheels turning yellow is relatively low, it is still essential to be aware of the potential consequences.

The wheels can affect the skateboard’s speed, movement, and overall performance. It is important to ensure that they are still in good condition and haven’t begun to degrade. If they are beginning to show signs of wear and tear, it’s time to replace them.

Grip Problem

Skateboarders should also be aware that yellowed wheels can offer reduced grip and may cause sliding during tricks or tight turns. This is because they are made with a soft urethane that is more prone to flat-spotting and deforming.

This can cause your wheels to feel unstable and make riding your skateboard less enjoyable. In addition, it could cause riders to lose control and wipe out, especially if they skate on slippery surfaces. Also, these can be more susceptible to flats and blowouts. 

Can Cause Health Issues

The yellow color of the wheels can indicate that the urethane is breaking down and releasing harmful chemicals into the air. These chemicals can be inhaled, causing respiratory problems. If you notice your wheels turning yellow, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible. 

Indicates Poor Quality Materials

While it is essential to make sure that your wheels are built with high-quality materials, one potential risk is that the yellow color could indicate that the wheels are made of lower-quality elements.

If the wheels turn yellow faster than they should be, then those are manufactured using very low-quality substances. As a result, inferior skateboard wheels are more likely to crack or break while in use, which could lead to severe injuries for the rider.

Conclusion

Skateboard wheels turning yellow is a common problem among skateboarders. The causes of this discoloration are oxidation and UV rays from the sun. Therefore, store them in a cool, dark place when not in use to keep them away from direct sunlight.

Yellowed skateboard wheels can be cleaned with a few simple steps, and some preventative measures can be taken to help keep your wheels looking new.

Although having yellowed wheels may not pose any significant risks, it is still best to try to prevent them from happening in the first place. Wheel longevity varies depending on its type and how often it is ridden, but typically they last around six months to a year.


Taylor Jensen

Leave a Comment