It is not hard to put a scratch on a set of alloy wheel rims. Simply bumping into the curb as you are rounding the corner is enough to scratch up the aluminum.
Sports racing enthusiasts are likely to go running into the streets at the sight of a scratched alloy wheel rim. The first instinct is to strip the car of its imperfection and replace it with a nice, new shiny alloy wheel. This line of thinking falls into the use-it, toss-it mentality. For those that can afford to do this, that is a great option. For the average driver, replacing alloy wheels is not an option.
Alloy wheel repairs are quickly becoming one of the most performed actions in auto body shops worldwide. Drivers chose to repair the alloy wheels mainly because the cost of buying new ones fresh off the showroom floor in expensive. Another reason is that the driver has developed an emotional attachment to the current alloy wheel rims on a vehicle. The thought of parting with a piece of the car body is simply unheard of.
Many of the alloy wheels that roll into auto body shops are in need of a fresh facelift from damage or wear and tear. Alloy wheel repair requires a fare amount of bodywork to be completed. The first step in repair is to smooth out any spots, dings and ridges located on the wheel rim surface. To do this, many body shops use a small grinder to work the edges and finer areas of the wheel rim surface. The grinder also helps to smooth out sharp edges that may be caused by bumping a curb or running over a rough road surface.
This step can be completed at home in the driveway before bringing the car into an auto body shop for further repair. It is referred to as the initial step of alloy wheel rebuild.
Next is a maneuver that should be completed by an auto body mechanic. Epoxy material is applied to the wheel surface in order to fill in any existing gaps or low spots. This material acts as a strengthening agent as well. In some cases, the epoxy material can create a stronger rebuilt wheel rim than the stock rim originally on the car.
A small welder is then utilized to blend the epoxy material on the wheel surface. The welder runs around the entire circumference on the outer lip of the wheel. Once applied, the entire wheel is reconditioned to a virtually new appearance.
The final step is restored the alloy wheel to its original mint condition. Buffed, shined and ready for action, the newly repaired alloy wheel is balanced and ready to hit the road.
The majority of cracked, bent or worn alloy wheels can be repaired. Cracks impose the greatest damage potential to alloy wheels. Left untreated, cracks cause major damage to the entire rim structure. Damage to spoke areas, lug areas or the inner lip rim is irreparable.
When in doubt, take the vehicle to a local auto body shop for a second opinion.