Given the state of many roads in cities, potholes cause much damage to auto rims and tires each year. If the result of such an impact is a crack in the rim, you may have no choice but to invest in a new one. Today's cars, however, are often fitted with rims made of alloy materials. These are often tougher and better able to withstand the violent impact by bending rather than breaking. And these bends or dents are not the death knell that you might think.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Kerosene torch
- Torch spark
- Flat front hammer
- Cement floor or equally hard surface
- Thick, protective gloves
Place your car in park and set the emergency brake (for standard shift, place the car in gear instead of park) to prevent the wheels from spinning as you turn the lug nuts. Jack up the car with either a shop jack or the factory-issued jack, found near the spare tire. Once lifted, loosen each lug nut from the rim with the factory-issued wrench, also found with your factory jack. Place the factor- issued spare tire onto the car and tighten each lug nut with the wrench, making sure to tighten the nuts evenly until all are secure.
Remove the tire from the rim by first placing a crowbar between the tire and the edge of the rim. Once inside, place pressure on the crowbar until edge of the tire pulls over onto the outside of the rim. Slide the crowbar around the rim until one edge of the tire is completely outside the rim. Turn the rim around and wedge the crowbar between the remaining tire edge and the same side of the rim you just used. You are basically performing the same manoeuvre again but from the other side. Slide all the way around. Your tire is now off the rim.
Repeat the process with the other tires, as needed.
Find the dented area on the rim and make sure there are no hairline cracks present. Lay the rim onto a level cement or asphalt floor, with the dented side facing up. Ignite your torch and set the flame to hot blue, then place the flame onto the dented area and hold there. You must keep heating the dented area with the torch for several minutes until it has reached a suitable level of pliability. This will depend on the type of rim, the thickness and the material.
Stand the rim up on its side with the dented area facing down. Using the hammer, begin to strike the dented area, inner rim first, outer rim last and work the dent out of the wheel. As the rim cools, stop hammering and reheat. Each hammering session should last about five minutes before the rim cools and requires more heat. Repeat this step until the inner rim has regained its shape and matches with the curve of the un-dented portion of the rim. Perform the same steps on the outer edge of the rim, but do not hammer the lip of the rim itself. After some effort, the rim should regain something very near its original shape.
Reinstall the tire onto the rim using the crowbar in the opposite movement. Place the rim flat on the floor and the tire flat on the rim above it. Let one edge of the tire overhang the rim edge and wedge the crowbar in the gap. Bend the tire over the rim's edge and slide the crowbar all the way around the rim until one side of the tire is on the rim. Repeat with the other side of the tire. If this proves too difficult, bring the tire and rim to a local mechanic who will be able to perform this step and the steps that follow for you for a minimal fee.
Re-inflate the tire and test using a mixture of water and dishwashing detergent. Pour the mixture over the inflated tire at the rim and watch for bubbles. Bubbles indicate leaks. Ideally submerge the tire in soapy water and watch for bubbles. This method will prove easier to see.
Reinstall the tire and rim onto your car. Tighten the lug nuts evenly as you did with the spare. Test the tire and rim by driving in deserted areas at varying speeds and watching for wobbles or shakes. If you notice anything at all that does not feel or sound normal, drive directly to your mechanic and have a new rim installed.
Tips and warnings
- Your local mechanic will have tire sealer that, when placed between the rim and tire, will prevent and stop most small leaks at least temporarily. Make sure to have him apply this when reinstalling the tire.
- The intense heat and hammering involved in fixing a dented rim may cause the clear coat or paint to flake and fall off in the area being worked on or beyond.
- The rim will be extremely hot when being worked on: beware.
- There is no guarantee that your rim will function properly once repaired. This is only a temporary fix, and a new rim should be purchased as soon as possible.
- Have a licensed mechanic look at the rim once you have completed the repairs to ensure that driving with it is safe.