A critical component set on your vehicle is the tires and rims. The health and maintenance of rims correlate directly back to the comfort of your driving experience. Keeping the rims on your vehicle in good working order improves fuel economy and efficiency in how your vehicle operates.
One of the remarkable things about America is its roads and highways. The system is in good shape. However, some of our highways have potholes large enough to drive into and get lost. Uneven roads are also another problem.
Drivers exacerbate the problem of worn tires and bent rims by driving hard over a curb or speed bump. Each time a driver accelerates over a speed bump, the jolt can cause significant problems. Struts, shocks, and ball joints can be knocked out of alignment with each hit.
It is vital owners know the exact dimensions and options on their vehicles. Nothing is more handy than having a vehicle history report. Know the exact specifications of your vehicle for safer driving.
One of the more significant problems that can happen with your rims after driving over a speed bump, deep pothole or large curb, the rim may become bent. A bent rim is an insidious problem that can go undetected for long periods.
Symptoms of a Bent Rim
- Unstable steering and poor handling are vibrations that start at the wheels and move through the suspension to the steering column. Shaking in the front of the vehicle and its steering column is a sign the front rims are buckled; vibration further back can mean the rear wheels are in trouble. Handling becomes precarious if not taken care of immediately.
- Tires keep deflating, is a sign of a bent rim on the outside or inside of the wheel along the edge. The ever-present shaking and poor handling can result from an underinflated tire. Underinflated rear tires can cause violent shaking under the right circumstances. Pay close attention to your miles per gallon; a tire with a bent rim will leak air and decrease fuel economy and handling.
- Damaged rims significantly impact the handling of a vehicle. Without a perfectly round tire, severe issues will develop. Tire manufacturers must build their tires to a specific weight and dimension. A tire that is out-of-round throws off the balance of the vehicle.
- Thumping, loud noises, and vibrations are all systems of a bent rim or some other calamity. Many of these issues are caused by grating and whining noises in the suspension. Another factor to consider is that many bent rim problems occur while driving a well-paved road at highway speeds. It is risky to drive on tires with abnormal tread wear, low inflated tires, and tires with the beginnings of dry rot.
Visible Inspection Of Your Wheels
The most apparent means of checking for wheel damage is a thorough, visible inspection. Checking both the front and back of the rim is vital. If possible, turn the wheel as far as it will go and check for inside damage to the wheel.
Sometimes, the damage to the wheel's interior is minor and easily overlooked, making it impossible to find the problem. This is why drivers must be aware of other signs pointing to a damaged rim.
Can A Bent Rim Be Fixed?
The honest answer to whether a bent rim can be fixed Is whether it is worth fixing the wheel in the first place. A slight bend on the edge of a wheel can undoubtedly be repaired if taken to the right specialist. More extensive damage to a rim is a different situation.
When a wheel has severe damage or is out-of-round, the wheel is most likely beyond repair and should be replaced.
- Steel wheels are the easiest to repair. A steel wheel is usually made with an alloy of iron and carbon, making the wheel much heavier and more durable. Steel wheels are cut out on a press and then welded together. The wheel does not possess an alloy's aesthetics but is usually much stronger.
- Alloy wheels are constructed from an alloy of aluminum or magnesium. The alloys are mixtures of other light metals or more substantial elements to produce a strong, aesthetically pleasing wheel. Aluminum alloys are pricier than steel and should be evaluated by a professional to determine if the wheel has enough structural integrity to be driven safely.
Protecting The Rim
Bending a rim can happen at any time or at any location. However, it is more likely for drivers in urban locations with many speed bumps, tall curbs, and road obstacles.
Drivers may consider investing in high-quality rubber or steel rings to help protect the wheel.
Many young manufacturers have stepped up to provide excellent solutions for protecting against bent rims and other wheel problems. High-quality rubber rings can be purchased to fit above the tire bead and wheel lip, fitted just before the edge of the tread. These thick rubber rings reduce the impact of any road obstruction.
Other products similar to rubber rings are steel or hard plastic rings that fit around the edge of the wheel, including color rims. Wheel protection rings,available in various hues and designs, can be colored or patterned to enhance the look of the rim and vehicle, adding a personalized touch to both the rims and the overall vehicle appearance.
Improvements in the tire bead have helped wheel manufacturers build a more robust wheel with greater safety features. The tire bead is a reinforced section of the tire that contacts the wheel. The bead creates and maintains a seal to keep the tire inflated. Steel, copper, or other metal bands embedded in the seal help the wheel maintain its shape in hard knocks and blows.
Bent Rims Can Lead to Vehicle Problems and Costly Repairs
New drivers are always startled beyond words when they are driving up to a curb and misjudge the distance. The hard blow to the curb usually gets the most inexperienced out of their vehicle to inspect the damage. In some cases, this experience lasts a lifetime.
Maintaining wheels and tires properly can save a significant number of dollars. Hard knocks not only damage wheels but also impact shocks, struts, and front linkage. Repairing or replacing any of these is not an everyday expense.
If you hit a deep pothole at full force and bend a rim, you never drive the same again.