How to Fix a Bent Rim | The Ultimate Guide



If you don’t want to deal with the cost implications that come with rim replacement, you need to know how to fix a bent rim. There’s no need to worry since, in the guide below, we will explore this subject in-depth and show you why fixing is always better than replacing, how to identify a bent rim, and how to use your skills to fix the rim in the comfort of your garage.


Fixing is better than replacing

If you’ve hit a pothole and now you have one or more of the rims of your car bent, you might be tempted to purchase a new set of rims rather than go through the trouble of fixing them. However, hitting potholes while driving is very common, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. It’s not feasible to replace the rims each time they get damaged.

If the tire gets punctured, then you can have it replaced easily and relatively cheaply, but when it comes to rims, things are quite different. Not only are they expensive but they are also not always easily available since it can be difficult to find rims that will match your car.

On average, the cost of an aluminum alloy rim can go up to $400 regardless of the make or model of your car. Spending $400 to replace a bent rim doesn’t make much sense when there’s another alternative that’s much cheaper.

Whether you have a bent or cracked rim, you can get it repaired at a local shop, or depending on the severity of the damage, rims can often be repaired at home as well. A damaged rim isn’t always obvious, which is why it is important to know to identify the signs of a bent rim that requires emergency repair.



Signs of a dangerous bent rim

As mentioned earlier, rims get bent all the time, and while it is true that not all of them require emergency repairs, you still need to take each bump seriously. Aside from flat tires and alignment problems, a bent wheel rim is one of the most common problems that your vehicle will have to deal with, especially after winter.

Even a minor bent rim can have a dramatic impact on the way that your vehicle functions. The best way to diagnose a problem is to go to a service or auto body technician, but there still are some common signs of wheel rim damage that you can observe on your own.

Most of the time, you can see if the tire rim has experienced any damage, especially if it is made of aluminum since this material bends more easily than steel. However, it is possible to bend the inside of the rim without leaving any signs that can be observed with the naked eye. These hidden damages can be observed during your routine maintenance and wheel alignment.

Furthermore, when the rim is bent, you’ll notice the effects in the steering wheel at first since a bent tire produces the impression of a shaky car, and it can even make the seats vibrate. While other car problems can cause your vehicle to vibrate as well, you’ll need to look at the rim to make sure the problem doesn’t originate from there.

Another classic sign of a bent rim is a loss of tire PSI since the rims seal the air between the wheel and the tire, and when the rim is bent, this seal gets broken as well. Driving with a bent rim can also feel like driving on a flat tire, and it can introduce poor fuel efficiency and TPMS notifications popping up mid-drive.

Thus, don’t hesitate to check the state of your wheel rims if you notice any problems with your vehicle. The decision of whether to fix a bent wheel on your own or to have it looked at by a professional is all up to you. Below we will present an in-depth guide that will show you how to fix a bent rim in your garage.


Remove the tire

Before you start the process of fixing the bent rim, you’ll need to have the following items readily available: goggles, torch, air compressor, water, soap, sponge, protective gloves, mallet, hydraulic jack, pry bar, and a piece of flat wood.

To remove the tire and get access to the rim, you’ll need to place the jack under the car, on the side with the bent rim to raise the jack and lift the vehicle. The car should be lifted until the wheel is no longer touching the ground. Don’t forget about your safety, always make sure that the hack and the car are stable.

The next step is to remove the lug nuts from the wheel so that you can pull the tire and rim off. Removing the tire is easy if you have a rim that is bent badly since the tire will already be flat.

To separate the flat tire from the rim, you’ll need to use the pry bar and move it around the seal of the tire. Pull the pry bar so that the seal of the tire goes off the rim. Repeat the process for the other side of the tire seal as well.


Fix the bent rim

Now is time to heat and hammer the bent area of the rim to get it back to its original shape. For this, you’ll need to use a propane blow torch and heat the bent area carefully with the full bore of the flame for about two to three minutes.

While the metal is hot, place a piece of flat wood on the rim and use the mallet to hammer it against the curved lip. Try to avoid hitting directly into the hot rim since the pressure of a direct hit can crack the rim. Instead, use the wooden block since it will help spread the impact evenly on the wheel.

If the rim hasn’t gotten back in shape, you’ll need to reheat the metal and repeat the steps we’ve detailed above until it goes back to its original shape. Once you’re happy with the results, you should wait until the rim has cooled completely and use the pry bar to put the tire back on.

Now get the water and soap and mix them until you get a foamy solution. Use a sponge to apply the soap up space where the tire and the rim meet. You’ll need to look closely since if any bubbles form, this means that air is leaking. If an air leak occurs, you’ll have to take the rim and tire to a professional for further inspection.


Replace the tire

Now that you have the tire ready, it is time to screw it back onto the wheel studs. Roll the tire back to the vehicle and align the holes in the rim with the studs and then slowly slide the tire back onto the vehicle. Screw the lug nuts back starting with the lug nut on the bottom and tighten it against the rim.

When screwing the lug nuts, you’ll need to work with the nuts that are across from each other so that the rim gets pulled evenly against the studs. After you’re done with the lug nut on the bottom, you’ll need to move on to the top one, then the right one, left one, and finally right one again.

Lower the jack, and once the car rests on the ground, you can remove it entirely. With the wheel on the ground, you’ll need to repeat the process and tighten all the lug nuts again.


You can go to a repair center

Not everyone feels comfortable to fix a bent rim on their own, and there’s no need to feel pressured into doing it if you don’t feel ready. Many rim repair centers can help get your rim back into working condition for cheap. Going to a repair center is also a good choice if you don’t have all the equipment that’s needed to repair the rim.

Most repair centers can also re-condition the wheel better than you could ever do so that it looks like new. Whether your rim is bent or cracked, most local shops can quickly restore the rim to its former glory. Even welding back a cracked rim costs a fraction of what buying a new rim would.

Some selected wheel dealers also have access to cold rolling or hydraulic assistance technology that doesn’t require heating to straighten the bent lips of the rim. This process is an improvement to the hammering technique, and it allows skilled mechanics to fix the rim faster and more efficiently.

To conclude, whether you’re looking to repair a bent rim on your own or you plan to go to a repair center to have a mechanic do everything for you, it is always a better idea to get it fixed rather than purchasing a new one.

You shouldn’t feel pressured to do the repair job on your own, but since the process isn’t that difficult, it is worth a try since it can save you even more money. You can also have a friend or two nearby if that will help you feel more comfortable.