What’s Involved in Repairing Alloy Wheels?

Here at AlloyGator, we’re all about protecting your valuable alloy wheels. So, it makes sense to step back for a minute and talk about wheel repairs themselves, so you know a little more about the rigamarole we’re trying to help you avoid. Our crew at AlloyGator has decades of experience in the automotive industry, so we’ve seen it all – and here’s the low down.

What are the most common situations in which wheels get damaged?

There are two most common ways wheels usually get damaged.

  1. Scraping a curb while parallel parking – which is most likely to occur when there’s traffic backed up waiting for you, or you’re when you’re in a hurry.
  2. Going through drive-thru restaurants – those places have really bad curbs and tight corners! But really, any place with tight cornering and high curbs are risky on your wheels.

What is involved in repairing curb rash to your wheel?

There are several steps for wheel repairs, and it’s very similar to removing a dent from your car. Technicians remove the wheel from the tire, reconstruct the damage on the wheel, sometimes welding in any missing elements, then sand it smooth. If the wheel was clear-coated, sanding will remove the remaining clear coat too. Then they will prime it and paint it, and if necessary, clear coat it again.

Is the repair job usually a perfect match?

The degree of match depends on the workmanship of the repair technician. There may be a slight cosmetic difference, because it is very difficult to get an exact match for painted wheels, because they will fade from the original colour over time. Note that when you get quotes for wheel repairs, make sure to ask if the technician usually removes the wheel from the tire before repairing it. If not, it’s likely going to be a sub-par repair. Not removing the wheel from the tire first means that when the day comes that the tire has to be changed, the paint butting up to the tire will chip off and look terrible. It’s kind of like painting a wall without removing the baseboards.

What do wheel repairs usually cost?

Costs vary widely, but most range from $75 to $200 (during which your car will be out of service for a few days as well). However, if you have clear-coated or high-end wheels, costs can be much higher.

If you have chrome wheels, these are very impractical to repair because they have to be sent back to the factory to be re-dipped. In fact, you’ll probably be better off to get 4 brand new chrome wheels. While there is a new spray-chrome product on the market, it hasn’t been proven to be reliable. (And if you have chrome wheels, you should really have AlloyGators!)

Be sure to get a few quotes, because a too-cheap repair job might mean shoddy workmanship.

Can any kind of wheel damage be repaired?

While some shops will do anything for a buck, we don’t recommend repairing any damage beyond what’s cosmetic. Wheels are part of the critical engineering of a vehicle. Shops should not be gluing or welding in new chunks of metal to try to re-strengthen the wheel; the engineering integrity may be compromised, and that could be a real safety issue.

We have seen cars with low profile wheels that get damaged more on the centre of the wheel than the edge; then guys try to weld in pieces to fix it which is probably quite risky. There are rumblings in the industry today that regulations should be introduced to prevent structural repairs, and we agree with them. After all, when a new buyer gets a used vehicle, what assurance do they have that the wheels haven’t been patched up and are not safe?

Regardless, we recommend you consult your manufacturer’s owner’s manual for their policy on wheel repairs.

Can I likely order a matching wheel if I wreck one, and how long does it take?

For cars with original wheels, dealers usually keep the wheel style in stock for around 5 – 7 years. For aftermarket wheels, styles change about every 3 – 5 years, after which those wheels are not likely available. There are wheel warehouses in most provinces in Canada, and if they stock your style, you can usually get it the next day, or up to a week if you have to order out-of-province.

What is the risk of having a scratched alloy wheel?

  • If you’ve got a high-end car with clear coat alloy wheels, the scratch will breach the integrity of the clear coat, and allow moisture in. Then all the clear coat will peel off, and meanwhile, it flakes off and creates a strange worm-like pattern on the wheel.
  • If the wheel is painted alloy, it will simply be visible and look unsightly.
  • If you’ve got a leased vehicle, there are often steep financial penalties for returning a vehicle with scratched wheels – far worse than if you’d gotten it repaired yourself.

What can I do about my scratched alloy wheel?

AlloyGator can cover existing damage that occurs around the edge of the alloy wheel. However, many people prefer to get the wheels repaired first, and then protected with AlloyGators against future damage. Most of our Certified Trade Partners also repair wheels, so we encourage you to find an installer and then request a quote. After all, if you love your car, maintenance the number one way to show your affection!

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