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When was the last time you saw a collision shop advertise wheel repair? Though it’s not something we hear a lot about, wheel repair is legit. Some body shops include it on their menu of services. Then there are shops that specialize only in fixing broken wheels.
You might not know much about wheels or wheel repair. No worries. You’re about to learn everything you need to know, beginning with the fact that not all broken wheels can be repaired.
A reputable repair shop will thoroughly inspect any wheel before attempting to fix it – even if it appears to only have cosmetic damage. Why? Because wheel repair is a safety issue. Putting an unsafe wheel back on a car is just asking for trouble. No honest repair shop is willing to risk the health and safety of its customers.
Most types of wheel damage can be repaired one way or another. The question is whether or not repairs can be affected safely. If they can’t, a repair shop will recommend complete replacement. With that said, it’s time to talk about the different types of wheel damage.
A bent lip is damage characterized by the outer lip of the rim – where the rim meets the tire – being bent either in or out. This type of damage can occur when a wheel hits a pothole or makes contact with a curb. More often than not, damaged lips are bent outward. Most bent lips can be repaired safely. A technician can straighten and re-balance a damaged wheel in a few minutes, using specialized equipment.
Everything from road salt to chemicals can lead to corrosion, or rust if you will. The older the wheel, the more likely it is to rust. The good news is that corrosion is rarely a serious issue. It’s an easy problem to deal with, too. You sand away the corrosion, fill in any pits or holes, then prime and paint. That’s it.
Sometimes referred to as curb rash, this type of damage is mostly superficial. It can occur when a wheel makes contact with a curb. However, it can also be the result of driving on an underinflated tire or hitting road debris. Like corrosion, curb rash is mostly a cosmetic issue and can be addressed with sanding, filling, priming, and painting. If the damage occurs in conjunction with a bent lip, both types of damage can be repaired at the same time.
The most serious types of wheel damage are cracks and gouges. This is where technicians are genuinely concerned about structural integrity. They will thoroughly inspect wheels to make sure they are safe to repair. In cases where they are, technicians use a variety of strategies including welding and CNC machining. Repairs of this type generally require refinishing as well.
In closing, there are other types of repairs classified as wheel repairs even though the wheels themselves are not directly involved. Replacing wheel bearings is a good example. Wheel bearings are found in the wheel hub, that circular piece of equipment that connects wheel to axle.
Another example is a wheel alignment. Needing an alignment doesn’t mean that something is physically wrong with your wheels. It simply means they are not correctly aligned because the wheel hubs aren’t aligned.
The wheels on your car are both functional devices and safety features. Never assume a damaged wheel is safe. Have it checked out by experts. If it can be repaired, a qualified collision shop is your best bet.