Alloy Wheels: Can that Curb Rash Be Repaired?

Alloy Wheels: Can that Curb Rash Be Repaired?

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Do More than You Might Think for Curb Rash Your ride sure looks nice. You went for the alloy wheels, and your vehicle has a much classier look now. It’s a real head-turner because it’s amazing what that one upgrade does for a car or truck. But then: curb rash! It happens to the best of us. The good news is that most curb rash on alloy wheels can be repaired.

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Do More than You Might Think for Curb Rash - Photo of alloy wheel rim with “curb rash,” which results from scraping against raised cement structures.

A Bit of Background on Alloy Wheels

Alloy wheels do more than make your vehicle look cool. Because they’re made from an alloy of magnesium and aluminum, they’re lighter than steel wheels and can improve your gas mileage. They also dissipate heat better, which can extend brake life. These materials make it possible to produce alloy wheels in all kinds of colors and designs, so, yeah, they look cooler than regular steel wheels. But when they get damaged, it’s easy to freak out and think they’ll never be the same again—or that you can’t afford to have them repaired. Most of the time, this just isn’t true.

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Be an Affordable Option

When you see that curb rash, your first impulse may be to assume that the wheels will never be the same again, but take heart; an average wheel repair costs $100 to $150, with some ringing in at only $50. When you compare this to the cost of a replacement wheel, it’s not that bad.

A Word About Do-It-Yourself Wheel Repair Kits

Yes, you can buy kits to do your own wheel repair, but make no mistake: you will not get the same results as you would from a professional repair job. First of all, these kits don’t have anywhere near the number of tools you need to do the job right, and secondly, if they did, it would still be nearly impossible to achieve results comparable to a pro job because wheel repair takes training and practice. Some alloy wheel damage can’t be fixed at all with home repair kits because the damage is too severe, or finish textures and colors can’t be matched.

Proper Care can Extend the Life of Alloy Wheels

Cleaning Alloy Wheels

Unlike their steel counterparts, alloy wheels often have painted finishes, which makes them more vulnerable to damage, even from simple cleaning. A good rule of thumb is to clean them the same way you would your car’s paint. Never use acid cleaners, and make sure any car wash shops you take the vehicle to don’t use them either. Also stay away from abrasive cleaners and pads, including polishing compounds, as these can score the surface of the wheel finish.

Two Tricks for Maintaining Alloy Wheels

  1. As your mom probably told you when you were growing up, ground-in dirt is harder to clean than new dirt, so it’s important to clean your alloy wheels regularly. If you let dirt sit on them for very long, it works its way into the microscopic grain of the surface. This makes it harder to remove, and scrubbing away this deep dirt can scratch the wheel finish.
  2. Consider rotating alloy wheels every time you get an oil change because they can wear unevenly in different wheel positions.
Buy the Right Alloy Wheels in the First Place

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Do More than You Might Think for Curb Rash - Photo showing a four-lug-nut mounting configuration for an alloy wheel.

Alloy wheels are usually a “vanity purchase,” so appearance is certainly an important consideration when you buy them. But they also need to be compatible with your brake drum configuration. This shouldn’t be a problem if you buy from a reputable shop, but it’s worth doing a little research on your own to make sure your new wheels will work on your vehicle. Another consideration is the lug nut pattern. Seems obvious, but people have been known to buy wheels that literally can’t be mounted on their vehicles, so give this an extra look, as well.
Why Do Alloy Wheels Require Extra Care?
They’re prettier, lighter, and they can improve driving performance and fuel efficiency, but alloy wheels are not as tough as steel wheels. Use an extra ounce of caution when you drive on them, avoiding rough roads whenever possible. And of course, get in the habit of staying farther away from curbs! Alloy wheels are a great way to transform the look of your vehicle, but they cost a lot more than steel wheels, so it’s worth paying extra attention to your driving habits. If you get in trouble, give us a call at (316) 262-8888 or stop by the shop on Washington Street in Wichita. Take a deep breath; most alloy wheel damage—and almost all curb rash—can be healed.

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