Keeping your wheels in good condition is important for the overall health of your car. Damaged rims can lead to more costly repairs down the line and can even pose a safety risk, so keep these five tips in mind when giving your wheels their regular checkup.
Rim issues can often be easy to notice. Depending on the damage, you may hear a thumping sound when you drive or feel a constant vibration through your steering wheel. If you miss these cues but notice problems with your car's handling or changes in your gas mileage, take a look at your wheels. Look for unusual wear on your tires and check each wheel for a cracked, broken, dented or bent rim.
On top of causing uneven wear on your tires, damaged wheels can make your car harder to handle and may reduce your gas mileage. In a best-case scenario, this means that you will need to replace your tires sooner; in a worst-case scenario, you risk a potentially deadly tire blowout. Avoid these risks altogether by being proactive about rim maintenance. If you find that your wheels are damaged, they will have to be either repaired or replaced.
When to repair
Your mechanic can generally repair a bent or broken rim most of the time. If your rim is bent, getting it straightened shouldn't be an issue. But if it is cracked or the lug holes are damaged, you may not be able to repair it. Check with your mechanic anyway before you rush out to buy replacements: he'll be able to give you a definitive answer about whether your rim is fixable.
When to replace
Once you have repair quotes from reliable mechanics, you should compare that cost to the price of new rims for your car. In general, if it costs more to repair a wheel than to replace it, go ahead and buy a new one. If the cost of repair is less than the cost of a new wheel, have it fixed. Repaired rims are generally just as strong and reliable as new ones.
The price tag
Straightening a bent rim is a fairly simple process, and it should cost $75 or less. If your rims need welding to repair a break, or if they will need repainting or refinishing after the repair, your repair bill may be considerably higher, from $200 to $480 per wheel. Some repair jobs may require the removal of your tire, which can mean an extra labor charge. And if your rims must be replaced, expect them to cost between $200 and $500, depending on the make and model of your car.
If you're having wheel trouble, be sure to check with several Atlanta mechanics for quotes before you commit to a repair. Remember: preventative maintenance is always the best route when it comes to your car.