I was a few years ago, in the interest of work, in a country where I had to drive, constantly, on a bad road, full of potholes. Because I stayed there for a long time and I always had to move from point A to B on that very bad road, I felt that the car I was driving no longer had good stability, so I decided to go regularly to a tire repair shop in that area to check the wheels all the time, especially since I’m a pretty perfectionist guy. 🙂
One day, the guys there gave me the verdict I still knew the first time I put my eyes on that road, the fact that the rims are bent, one of them acknowledging that their business was doing very well due to that bad road. 🙂
Honestly, those people were pros, they had all the necessary equipment because if you put any rim used on the road, be it alloy or steel, on a special device, you will see that they are no longer perfectly round.
Do wheels need to be perfectly round?
Unfortunately, on a bad road, we will not see many rims to last for a long time without needing any attention. Whether we are talking about a pit that we do not see and hit the wheel with it, or a border that we climb more vigorously, or a ditch in the middle of the road that clenched our teeth in our mouths, it is clear that our wheels are put to a hard test.
There are two types of wheel bents:
- that let air escape from the tire
- those that are only visible but do not influence the wheel seal on the tire.
Normally, the more severe bents need to be fixed as soon as possible so that we can drive, so to put the tire on and keep it inflated on the rim. There are also bents that actually we don’t have to worry much about them.
Bends of steel rims vs bends of alloy wheels
Steel rims and alloy wheels have advantages and disadvantages. More precisely, the steel ones are softer, they bent more easily, they are not so visually attractive and rusty. But, in turn, steel wheels are much cheaper than alloy wheels, often heavier and cheaper to repair.
Alloy wheels are harder, bent harder, are more attractive, and are lighter than steel rims, they never rust and are found on many different models and sizes. But they are more expensive and their repair in case of breakage or bending is more expensive.
When a steel rim is bent, its repair becomes quite primitive. In less equipped tire repair shops, this is done with a hammer or by hitting. The metal returns to its original shape without the risk of cracking. But it is best to repair it with a hydraulic press, which exerts a large progressive force, not a short shock.
In the case of alloy wheels, the repair must be done hot. That is, the area to be repaired must be well heated with an open flame or a special burner. The alloy thus becomes malleable and there is no risk of it cracking under the pressure of the straightener.
So the idea is simple: the alloy wheels repair is done with the pre-heating straightening with the hydraulic press, and the steel ones directly on the hammer or the press.
Should I repair the bent rims?
If you go to a tire repair shop and you are told that your rims are bent, but with the naked eye you don’t see much, then think carefully if it is worth the investment. If your wheels are bent within normal limits, ie small bumps that do not feel moving and tires do not blow air in their direction, straighten them if you have money. In 1-2 months of normal driving, you will have them back. If you have more serious cases or you don’t like what the “square” rim looks like, then correct them.
Does something happen if I drive with a superficially bent rim?
Nothing at all. The wheel does not unbalance (unless the shock of the blow caused the lead to fall), the tire, as long as it has no hillock, does not suffer, so the direction is not influenced. But we must make sure that we are talking about superficial bends, like the ones in the pictures above. As if it is a more serious one, even if the air does not escape, a weak shock in the same area will cause the tire to deform, being unprotected.
How much does it cost to repair a bent rim?
tire repair shops have at least one wrong way of charging bent rim repair: according to the diameter of the wheel. Specifically, a 13-inch rim can have 5 areas where it would need to work, and an 18-inch one can have only one. But at the 18-inch rim, the work will last minutes and it will be more expensive, the complete opposite of 13 inches. An evaluation should be made and the situation of the wheel should be framed in two categories: superficial or severe bents, regardless of the diameter of the wheel.
Currently, repairing a bent steel rim costs around $ 10-15 (16-inch diameter) and costs increase or decrease depending on the diameter ($ 20 – $ 25 for a 17-inch rim, etc.). But the alloy ones cost more, $ 35 for a 16-inch rim. Obviously, the prices are different depending on the tire repair shop, but this is about the average of the repair costs.
So, the choice is yours, if you want to repair the rims, even if the damage is insignificant. But it is good to know when we must go to a tire repair shop to repair the wheels and when we must keep our money in our pockets.