Make Those Dented Rims Look Like New Again

Professional repair restores luster to damages rims

The wheels on your ride are an investment and make your vehicle look great. A winter of road salt, loose debris, potholes and curbs can turn those beautiful rims into an unsightly safety hazard.

Vibration from damaged wheels can affect suspension, steering and tires. Cracks in wheels also tend to grow into more serious problems that require replacement rather than refurbishing.

Trouble avoiding wheel damage may have a lot more to do with rim size than your driving skills. Most modern vehicles are using larger wheels with low profile tires.

For instance, mid-sized vehicles that previously offered 14- or 15-inch wheels now ride on 19-inch wheels. Combined with low profile tires, drivers have less rubber to protect wheel surfaces.

Let a certified wheel technician inspect the damage. Not all damaged wheels may be refinished or realigned safely.

Wheel refinishing takes about an hour for most wheel types. Cosmetic damage and surface corrosion may simply require sanding the wheel and stripping painted surfaces.

A grinding process removes imperfections. The wheel is repainted, given a clear coat and baked to set the paint.

Some dents and misshapen rims may be “compressed” to reshape the wheel and realign it with the other vehicle wheels.

After, the wheel is repainted and refinished to its original luster. The complete process takes about a day to complete.

Some damage is too extensive for wheel repair, however. Wheels cannot be repaired if the center hub is bent or cracks spread into the middle of the rim.

Aluminum wheels may be repaired up to three times. The heating and cooling of wheel repair makes them too brittle for further restoration.

Some tips for wheel repair:

  • Find out if your wheel is made of steel, aluminum or alloy so shops can provide a repair estimate.
  • Look for shops approved by your insurance provider to assure quality workmanship. Ask if the repair is covered by policy.
  • Get an estimate to determine if you need a rental vehicle while your car is in the shop. Wheel repairs may take a day or several days depending on the severity of damage and type of metal alloy.
  • Damaged wheels can affect vehicle braking and steering systems. Repair or replace damaged rims.
  • Repairing wheels is a cost-effective alternative to replacement. Have your damaged wheel inspected by a certified wheel technician before deciding.
  • Chrome plating on wheels is banned in some locations because the process creates environmental hazards. “Simulated” chrome coatings offer the gleam of chrome.
  • Wheels with metal missing must be remanufactured and cannot be fixed by a wheel technician. Check with your wheel manufacturer.
  • Severe corrosion cannot be fixed by a technician. Check with your wheel supplier about getting your rim remanufactured.
  • Wheel appearance helps improve the value of your vehicle. Keep wheels clean through regular wheel maintenance and consider repairing damaged wheels if you intend to sell your vehicle.