Cracks in a rim can happen for a number of different reasons but whatever the cause, you need to get it sorted as soon as possible. If it’s only a small crack, then you may be wondering whether or not you should fix it yourself.
Here we’ll take a look at the options for a DIY fix and when you should see a professional. We’ll start by looking at why cracked rims are such a big issue. By the end, you’ll have all the info you need to make the right decision. Let’s go!
Why Is Driving With a Cracked Rim a Hazard?
If you’ve never had a blowout when driving, you want to try your best to keep it that way. The problem is that the tire surrounding the rim can be cut which can cause a rapid puncture. When you have a tire blowout at high speeds, you lose control of your vehicle.
Even if you don’t have a blowout, the integrity of your tire is compromised. In addition, it can lead to other issues like tire wear, difficulty steering, alignment issues, or cause damage to the suspension. Therefore, you need to address the rim fracture right away.
The same applies even if the crack is not seen with the naked eye. You still have tell-tale signs that the rim is damaged. For example, you will hear sounds coming from the wheel or feel vibrations when steering. In addition, your car’s handling will be different.
Also, do not keep driving or do a DIY crack repair if you do not have the experience or tools needed to repair the rim. You may end up with a poor repair which may cost much more money further down the line.
Can You Fix a Cracked Rim?
It depends on the crack and whether a weld will help restore it enough to stabilize it. That is why it is best to take the rim to an experienced technician to repair significant cracks.
On the other hand, if the rim is dented without a large crack, a cost-effective DIY repair may do. A typical repairable rim crack on most alloy rims is 1.5 inches or smaller. You’ll find the break in the center or the back lip.
A small crack does not influence any structural part of the wheel in most cases. But a front aperture, large gaps, and multiple cracks are a hazard and remain unsafe even with welding
How Is a Cracked Rim Fixed
You have two choices for rim crack repairs, and you will need to be the judge of choosing between the two but our first option only applies to minor damage.
Using a DIY Alloy Wheel Repair Kit
Depending on the damage, you can find an alloy wheel repair kit available with everything you need to repair a rim. You can use these kits to fix shallow scratches but not for large damaged areas. Instead, you use the equipment to fill damaged areas and create an even surface.
You get paint, filler/primer, lacquer, sandpaper, application tools, and gloves in the kit. You also need to check the paint colour closest to your alloy rim. The process you use is to clean the wheel with dishwashing liquid.
Then you sand down the area as no part of the alloy should stick up. Then, with the fine sandpaper, you sand over the area again to smooth it out. Finally, you wipe the area clean and leave it to dry with a damp cloth.
Next, fill the damaged area using the filler to press it into the holes and level it out smoothly. If you use a filler spray, you need to build it up in layers. Now, leave it to set and use the fine sandpaper to smooth it out.
Wipe the area down with a damp cloth and leave to dry. Then you can mask the place using the provided paint and leave it to dry.
The main problem is even if it fixes the scratch, the damage is still visible, and the paint rarely matches the colour of the rim. What’s more, it can take hours for you to complete the job. As each step needs to dry and set.
If you make a mistake, rectifying it is difficult. You also need to remove the wheel to lay it on a flat surface for the best results. Finally, you can only fix scrapes and small chips.
The best result to have the rim fixed is with TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding. First, repair technicians grind out both sides of the hairline fracture or crack. Doing this removes the contamination to help perfect the weld.
The technicians use filler material to weld both sides of the wheel, while some only do one side but this can cause a weak rim. It is best to do both sides to provide strength and stability for the rim. First, the weld is ground down to prevent damaging the inside of the tire.
Then, they use a dye test to check for possible leaks, then the weld is done. Still, even with the repair using TIG welding, you can still find that the rim is bent and needs straightening even before the repair takes place.
Should I Fix The Rim?
Unless you’re an experienced welder, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to repair the small crack to an acceptable standard. While welding usually holds up fine, if the rim takes another hit in the same place, it can pop the weld.
Unless the damage is really minor, the best course of action is usually to take it to a professional. If the damage is significant, then it’s often that they’ll advise you to get a new rim.
While it’s understandable that you want to avoid costly repairs, safety always comes first. Unless you’re completely confident in your welding abilities, it’s best to suck it up and accept the advice of a professional.