Wheel strength – big wheels, run flats, checking, fixing and even buying online:
Used alloy wheels
Alloy wheels used to be something of a luxury but they are almost the norm on all but the most basic models on the market. Even base models are coming with alloys and very little else because people value them over interior gadgets.
This is great for the consumer because everyone seems to love alloy wheels but there are a few issues around alloys one being cracking. It may seem a rather far-fetched thing to worry about but wheels are not as solid as you may think and they can crack quite easily leaving you with a potential MOT failure, a costly repair bill or a dangerous car.
How Do You Crack a Wheel?
There are quite a few ways you can crack an alloy wheel but they all basically centre around impact. You may well be driving along a road and get a little squeezed to the side. Even though you may slow down you could still hit a kerb at 30 mph. It might be a large pothole, if filled with water they can look just like a puddle but on impact you realise they are deep and damaging. The impact itself may well damage the tyre too or the tyre might just survive but the shock to the wheel may start a fracture in the rim that will need repair.
Little Cracks and Big Cracks
The range of different sized fractures is obviously quite large. Some impacts can literally destroy the wheel but more often it is a case of a smaller crack that may not even be noticeable right away. A larger crack may well start leaking air quite quickly or deflate the tyre almost immediately, smaller cracks can lead to a slow loss of pressure. If you have hit your alloy wheel keep an eye on your tyre pressures.
The best thing to do if you do hit something is to search for a local garage quickly. Sites like https://www.goodgaragescheme.com/ are great for finding a well rated local garage.
Alloy Wheel Repair – Can it be fixed?
Most people would assume a cracked wheel is something that simply needs to be replaced. In fact, most dealerships will default to telling you you need a new wheel. But there are a number of services like http://wheelsrus.biz/ that are able to actual repair a cracked wheel. The process is not as complex as you may imagine. Initially the area is ground down to remove any dirt or anything else from the crack area. Next they weld the wheel from both sides for a strong bond. After that most companies will offer to refurbish the wheel and grind down any welding excess so it leaves you with a smooth and refinished wheel. The cost different can be huge compared to a new wheel or wheels!
It is ironic that more expensive wheels tend to be more prone to cracking. This is because high end wheels tend to be larger and it is certainly the fashion for aftermarket wheels to “go big”. The larger the wheel the less strength it has as a general rule. Also with big wheels come very low profile tyres which offer scant protection against impact. There are literally thousands of different aftermarket wheels out there so think carefully about size – https://www.wheelbasealloys.com/ In some cases manufacturer wheels designed to use run flat tyres can also be more prone to cracking.
The strength of a wheel tends to be on the side with the spokes so often a crack is actually on the back side of a wheel and so hard to spot without removing the wheel. This means some people drive around with a cracked wheel until it comes up as a MOT failure. It is best to get it checked out if you do have an impact or you are losing pressure because it can be dangerous.
Buying Used Wheels
If you are considering buying alloy wheels on eBay or something similar it is critical to get written confirmation that the wheels are not cracked. Make sure you see images of all four wheels and if you are picking up in person then check with a torch and take your time. Buying cracked wheels is dangerous and at best will cost you more for repair, at worst may have to be scrapped if the damage is too great.
Knowing you have a cracked wheel is important so get your car checked out if you hit a pot hole or a kerb. Once you know, make sure you look at repair and don’t be pushed into buying a new wheel without first getting a repair quote. Avoid buying used wheels unless you are 100% sure they are in good shape. If you are ever in doubt about a wheel crack, get it checked by a professional, it could be costly and very dangerous.