The modern-day driving environment is brimming with challenges such as bad quality roads, aggressive potholes, aggressive curbs, and rocks on the road. All of these can either be avoided or not which means that they can cause serious damage to your car if you do end up hitting them. Because your wheels are the only components constantly on the ground, they are the most vulnerable to such impacts and thus will need repairing.
These can cause tire blowouts, suspension damage, drivetrain issues, radiator issues, undercarriage scraping, or even rim cracking. A cracked rim can certainly be replaced, but can a cracked rim be repaired?
Can A Cracked Rim Be Repaired
Yes, and no. A cracked rim can be repaired if the crack is small and situated in an area in which it does not completely compromise the structural integrity of a wheel. This means that a singular hairline crack located on the middle or at the rear lip of the wheel can be welded without needing to replace the wheel.
On the other hand, if the crack is large, goes in multiple directions, is located on the front of the wheel, or severely compromises the structure of the wheel in any other way, it can not be repaired effectively.
In any case, there is no guarantee that a cracked wheel is ever going to be as good as it was before, so be sure to take your wheel to an experienced shop for more info on how and if you can repair it.
How Can I Repair A Cracked Rim?
Now it’s time to outline everything you need to do to repair a small hairline crack in the wheel that is deemed repairable. However, it is always better to take the wheel to an experienced shop that has vast experience and loads of satisfied customers when it comes to fixing wheels as they are essential for on-road safety.
- Inspect the rim thoroughly to decide if it makes sense to repair it
- Get the right tools for the job
- Prepare the rim for welding
- Weld the rim
- Inspect the final results
How To Tell If A Cracked Rim Can Be Repaired?
This is by far the most important step of them all because you need to inspect the entirety of the wheel to make sure you are 100% aware of the state the wheel is in. Your goal is to assess the wheel and decide if it makes sense to repair it or not. Don’t be shy to take the rim to someone with more experience and gather as much info as you can.
Rims that can’t be repaired:
- Rims with multiple cracks
- Rim has already been repaired
- The crack is large
- The crack is on the front of the wheel
- The cracks span in multiple directions
Which Tools Do I Need To Repair A Cracked Rim?
Having the right tools for the job, and having the right knowledge means that you can approach every solvable problem and solve it effectively. If you are 100% confident that you are looking at a repairable wheel, be sure to gather these tools as you will need them if you want to repair the rim.
Tools needed to fix a cracked rim:
- Large hacksaw
- 80, 100, 320 grit sandpaper
- Black marker pen
- Drill and drill bits
- Hammer, chisel, or a screwdriver
- Belt sander
- TLG welder 150 amps and 1.52mm alloy rod with 5-10% of magnesium
- Chain or sling
- Nut and lug bolt
How To Prepare A Cracked Rim For Welding?
Now it’s time to prepare the rim for welding which means finding the right environment to do that. Be sure to place the wheel in a safe place and strap it down for it not to move. Be sure to drill a 13mm hole on both sides of the crack in order to enhance the weldability of the wheel. Clean the surface, and use rougher sandpaper to sand down the area around the crack.
How To Weld A Cracked Rim?
Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty by attempting to weld the crack. Be sure to weld with a tig on the inside of the wheel at the 13mm hole in a slow and circular motion. If you are not experienced when it comes to welding, it’s best to simply call someone who can and let them do this step for you.
This is a crucial part of making the wheel structurally sound, so don’t attempt to do it yourself if you don’t have the experience.
How To Test If A Cracked Rim Has Been Repaired Successfully?
There are two ways how one can test the quality of a rim weld job. The first one is to use a black marker and a little bit of WD-40 thinner. If you are able to see the crack, the repair was not done successfully. At this point, it’s best to give up and go get yourself a brand new rim.
You can also test the rim with a hammer, chisel, or a screwdriver simply by hitting the rim gently. If the wheel rings constantly like a bell, the fix has been successful, if the sound diminishes quickly, the weld has not been successful.
Is It Safe To Drive On A Cracked Rim?
It is never a good idea to drive on a cracked wheel, no matter how and where the crack is located. If you do decide to continue driving on a crack wheel, you are likely going to encounter one of these scenarios.
The first one is that the crack will continue to progress until it becomes larger and more severe. The crack can also start spreading in multiple directions reaching even the very edges of your wheels.
The second scenario is that the rim suddenly falls apart which can indeed be catastrophic. The third scenario is that the crack manages to stay in the same place for a while, but this is still not a guarantee that the crack will not start developing sometimes down the line. Temperature shifts, age, driving environment, and the way you drive affect the rim in the next 15 minutes, next month, or in the coming years.
The problem is that you can never be sure which one of these is going to be the case so avoid driving on a cracked wheel to never find out. The only time it makes sense to drive on a cracked rim is when you are loading your car on a flatbed.
Can A Cracked Aluminum Wheel Be Repaired?
Repairing a steel wheel is a lot easier and less time-consuming than it is repairing an aluminum wheel because an aluminum wheel needs to be welded with the so-called TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding technique. If you approach welding an aluminum wheel with the so-called MIG (metal inert gas) welding technique (the one used to weld steel), you are going to destroy an aluminum wheel entirely.
It is true that welding/repairing an alloy wheel is a lot more difficult and it takes more time, precision, and skill. However, certain cracks can be repaired as is the case with steel wheels. Nonetheless, it is still best if you avoid repairing a cracked aluminum wheel altogether because there are no guarantees that a repaired aluminum wheel is ever going to hold up in the future.
How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Cracked Rim?
The main reason why people want to repair a cracked rim is that they don’t want to spend too much money on replacing one, or even all four of their wheels at the same time. Most experienced shops are likely going to mend a cracked rim for about $80-$150 depending on the location, the size, and the severity of the crack. However, cracked rims are difficult to fix, and many shops will happily either decline or charge you twice as much.
A decent new wheel costs between $200 and $500 apiece, while high-end, custom, magnesium, carbon fiber wheels can cost 20 times as much. If you do the math, it makes sense to repair a cracked rim, but don’t stretch it as you can never compromise on safety. The only way to be completely safe is to simply replace the wheel. The good thing is that this is not something you will have to be doing often, so it makes sense to sometimes spend more.
A cracked rim can indeed be repaired if the location, the severity, and the size of the crack make it so. This means that rims that have been cracked multiple times, have been cracked badly, have multi-directional cracks, or have any other types of cracks that compromise the wheel’s structural integrity, should simply be replaced.
The best thing you can do is to take the cracked rim to someone who has vast and continuous experience fixing cracked wheels and see if it makes sense to do so. Either way, there are no guarantees that a fixed wheel is ever going to be as safe as it once was.
If you do decide to replace the wheel and/or the tire, be sure to check out our complete wheel and tire guide to make the most out of your car!