You notice a crack in your aluminum rim and wonder should you have wheel welding done or not? This is a question that many motorists ask, especially when faced with the possibility of the high cost of a wheel replacement.
The answer, as with many of these types of questions, is that it depends. Here we’ll take a closer look at when you should get your wheel welded and when it’s best to accept that it needs to be replaced. Let’s get started.
What are the Dangers of Damaged Rims?
If you are pondering whether or not you should pay for rim welding, it’s good to know about the dangers of cracked or broken rims.
The most subtle sign that you have a problem is that you get vibrations through your steering wheel or that your steering starts to pull slightly in one direction. This could be because your wheel has become uneven or is slowly letting out air.
These issues can result in difficult handling of your vehicle and a decrease in fuel efficiency. It may also be that it causes a slow puncture which means you need to replace the tire.
Worst of all, however, is the chance of a blowout. This is where your tire instantly loses all pressure. If this happens at high speeds then it can be extremely dangerous.
If you ever notice that your car is not handling quite right, you notice damage on the rim or if your tires are slowly losing pressure, make sure to get the problem checked out.
What Damage Can Be Repaired?
There are generally three types of damage that can be fixed via welding which are cracks, holes, and general impact damage.
Whether or not a crack can be repaired or not can depend on many factors. If you have a crack on the spokes or one that is parallel to the rotation of the wheel, then it’s often not advisable to weld due to the lack of structural integrity.
Holes in your tire can be fixed by welding but often other work needs to be completed as well such as reforming the wheel and getting it back into the right shape. These holes are often caused by heavy impacts and require extensive welding.
The other type of damage is often called chuck damage which is when an impact has damaged a rim and perhaps taken a chunk out of it. An experienced welder can often fill this gap and reshape it.
In all these situations, the damage may be too severe for welding to be the right option. This can be for two reasons. Firstly, the damage may be so bad that even welding will not give it the structural integrity that it needs.
The second reason is the cost. If your wheel rim has a lot of damage then it’s going to cost a lot of money to repair. If the cost of your repair is close to or exceeds that of a new rim, then getting a fresh wheel on there would be the better choice.
How Welds Are Done
Before you can weld the rim, it may need to be straightened. This needs to be done before the welding process and will make your repair more costly. This often isn’t required which cracks but if your wheel is out of shape, it needs to be straightened.
Once the wheel is in the right shape, the welding process can begin. After welding, you will often see a large bead. The bead needs to be smoothed down to where the tire makes contact with the rim. If not done correctly, the tire will not make perfect contact and will start to leak. You may find some repair shops grind the solder down to smooth it out on both sides.
Often this is smoothed out on a lathe so that it creates a perfect finish. The exact finishing of the bead will often depend on the location of the crack or damage.
Cost of Welding
The exact cost of welding a wheel is hard to say as there are many factors that go into it. There is a big difference between a small hairline crack and a large hole in the rim. You may be able to get your rim fixed for around $80 but if extra work is needed, it could cost a lot more.
If you’re worried about the overall cost then it may be a good idea to talk to your wheel repair center. They’ll be able to inspect your wheel and then tell you what repairs are needed. You can then make a judgment on the next steps.
Is it good to have wheel rims welded?
Having wheel rims welded is safe if that crack is small or non-structural. However, when there is a large aperture, it can affect the integrity of the wheel structure. If this is the case, the simplest thing to do is to have it replaced with a new one for your safety.
Is welding alloy safe?
While you may have heard people saying welding alloy is not safe, it is a reliable method to repair wheel rims. A repair centre will let you know if they think your wheel damage is beyond repair and needs replacement.
Should I have a cracked rim repaired?
Well, it depends if the weld provides stability for your vehicle. For example, using an experienced TIG welder can repair a short hairline crack without concern. But if the damage is longer or wider, that crack can grow, and the repair will not last. It is often best to have the rim replaced instead.
Can I drive with a cracked alloy?
You may be able to drive with a cracked alloy with no noticeable issues but this is never recommended. At best your handling will be affected and at worst, you will experience a blowout which can cause serious accidents.