Tire rims are easy to damage. Speed bumps, potholes, curbs, and other road hazards can all bend your tire rim and driving around with those bent rims is dangerous to your car and you.
So, repairing or replacing a bent rim is important. However, rims are expensive to replace and therefore one question that many people ask is whether a tire rim can be replaced? Here we’ll answer that question while also looking at when they need to be replaced. Let’s take a look!
Is a Bent Tire Rim Repairable?
A bent tire rim can almost always be repaired. Vehicle wheel experts often use professional-grade tools and techniques to fix bent rims, restoring them to their original shape and functionality.
Contrary to some beliefs, bent alloy rims can also be repaired. A slight bend that does not compromise the structural integrity of an alloy rim can be fixed but bent steel rims are generally more repair-friendly than bent alloy rims.
However, whether a bent rim can be repaired or not depends largely on the extent of the damage. Generally, if the damage is very serious (and compromises the structural integrity of the rim) a repair may not be possible and you’ll have to replace the rim entirely.
Why You May Choose Rim Repair Over Replacement
The following are some of the reasons people choose rim repair over replacement:
- Automotive sustainability
- Rim Repairs Are Generally Less Expensive
Rim replacement is considerably more expensive than rim repair. In fact, the high cost of rim replacement is the main reason many people choose to repair a bent rim instead of replacing it entirely.
The cost of rim replacement includes the cost of the new rim and the cost of installation. However, rim repairs usually have a flat service rate, which is always more affordable.
- Rim Repairs Are Quicker and More Convenient
Bent rim repairs are often handled the same day. Most often than not, your car will be ready the next day. However, rim replacement can take several days. After placing the order for the rims, it can take time to receive them.
- Rim Repairs Support Automotive Sustainability
Automotive sustainability is based on the principle of reusing and recycling resources. It entails avoiding unnecessary parts replacement to prevent metal from going to waste.
Interestingly, rim repairs do exactly that. When you repair a bent rim, you reuse the original metal. But when you replace a bent wheel, the original metal either goes to waste or to be recycled.
How Serious is a Bent Rim?
Driving around with a bent wheel is dangerous to both you and your car. A bent rim can lead to the following car troubles:
1. Air Leaks
By design, rims fit flush against tires, “sealing” the air between the rim and the tire. So, when bent, a rim pulls away or presses against the tire, it breaks the seal and causes air to leak out.
Sometimes, the air leak is slow, forcing you to pump your tire two or more times a month. Other times, the air leak is fast, causing outright flat tires. Whether slow or fast, air leak leads to unpleasant situations like:
Decreased fuel economy – A deflated tire increases your car’s drag. That is, the car will have greater resistance to rolling. The higher the car’s drag, the more energy it’ll take to move it, thus the more fuel it consumes. A 1% decrease in tire pressure causes a 0.3% reduction in fuel economy.
Poor handling – When a tire is deflating, its sidewalls flex more than they should during cornering and braking, causing slower response to steering inputs. The tire will also have less traction, causing braking distances to lengthen. These are situations that are harmful in emergency situations (like quickly turning or braking to avoid an accident).
Reduced tire life – When a tire is deflating, its side makes contact with the road surface. The sides are thinner than the thread and wear out rapidly, reducing the lifespan of the tire.
Blowouts – When the sides of a tire make contact with the ground and wear, soft spots develop, which is most often followed by a blowout. A tire blowout at high speed is, to say the least, dangerous.
2. Car Vibrations
A bent rim causes your tire to make uneven contact with the ground, leading to vibrations when you are driving.
When the shakiness is felt in the steering column, one of the front rims may be bent, but when the shakiness is felt in your seat or farther back, one of the back rims may be bent. As you’ll know, a shaking/vibrating car at worst is dangerous and at best, uncomfortable to drive.
Signs That Your Rims Need Repairing or Replacing
How do you know that one of your tire rims is bent and needs to be repaired or replaced? Check out for one or more of the following signs:
- A bend is physically noticeable on the rim
- You hear a thumping sound when you drive
- You feel vibrations on the steering, seat, or farther back when driving
- You experience frequent air leaks in your tires
- You experience less responsive handling (turns or brakes slower, etc.)
- The car is no longer as fuel-efficient as it used to be
A bent rim is one of the most common car troubles, as it is caused by common road hazards like speed bumps, potholes, etc. Driving a vehicle with a bent rim is dangerous but rim replacement is relatively expensive.
Thankfully, bent rims can almost always be repaired. The only exception is when the rim is so bent out of shape that its structural integrity is compromised.