If you recently noticed that your wheel is damaged, you may worry if you should replace it. In most cases, superficial or cosmetic damage doesn’t need to be replaced, such as if you scrape a curb. If the vehicle is equipped with steel wheels, the outer wheel cover may have been damaged. However, if the steel rim is sound and in good condition, the problem is aesthetic in nature, and you don’t have to replace the cover, though you may choose to so that the vehicle looks its best.
The same applies to alloy wheels because you aren’t required to replace the cover if the alloy rim is still in good condition. A scuffed rim may also be aesthetic; if it’s still round, you don’t see bent sections, and pieces of metal aren’t missing, the problem is more likely to be cosmetic. However, you should always keep a close watch on wheels that have received curb rash to make sure that the tire doesn’t have a slow leak.
When to Replace the Wheel
If you have a wheel that is dented, bent, structurally weakened, or cracked because you hit a pothole, ran over the curb, or had another mishap, it might need to be replaced. However, sometimes, the wheel can also be repaired. Sometimes, a dented wheel cannot maintain the seal with the tire bead, which results in a slow leak that is consistent or a blowout. Plus, the tire is going to be almost impossible to balance correctly so that it doesn’t vibrate at higher speeds. Along with such, wheels with structural damage might just break apart with time. If you’re worried about the damage severity, it is best to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic and let them assess the damage. Just make sure that the mechanic inspects every wheel component and removes the tire to check, as well.
In most cases, the decision to replace/repair a bent wheel is often your decision and considered a judgment call. However, it does involve the safety of you, your passengers, and your vehicle, so it’s best to go ahead and get the damaged wheel replaced if you are worried.
While many repair companies promise to restore damaged rims to almost-new condition, there aren’t any federal safety standards in place for refurbished wheels. Therefore, you have to roll the dice on whether the wheels are still going to have original integrity and strength. While removing any bends and dents can help your rim look like new, it doesn’t mean it is new.
Costs and Considerations
Repairing anything more than superficial damage isn’t a simple DIY project. You need to have special machines and heat to straighten the bends. Plus, you must remove the protective coatings and paint for a complete refurbishment. It’s also important to repair physical damage and corrosion, and then you must repaint it and put the protective coating back on the car.
Because the process is lengthy, repair costs can be significantly high. Of course, it does vary based on the amount of damage, type of wheel, and rim size you have. Therefore, you are likely going to spend as much as if you purchased a used or new replacement wheel. Original-equipment aluminum wheels could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace, so it can be helpful to consider used ones to save you money. However, you run the risk of purchasing a used wheel that had been damaged and refurbished, which means you may have issues with that wheel in the future.
A damaged wheel can be caused by a variety of things; if the damage is superficial, you don’t need to replace it, but if it is severe, you should replace the wheel and consider purchasing a new one.