Watch for Wonky Wheels during Pothole Season

Article excerpt

Spring has sprung and along with it comes potholes. This year's crop of potholes seems particularly bad, probably due to the extra-cold winter and the extended freeze/thaw cycles of this spring.

Canadian drivers have become very adept at dodging these menacing obstacles but there are some that just can't be avoided.

When your vehicle hits a pothole, it can create damage to your vehicle's wheels you may not even be aware of. Wheels are one of the more expensive items that can be damaged when you hit a pothole, curb or even rough railroad tracks.

I looked at several of the newer wheels and they are very light and thin. A light wheel provides a better ride but is not as strong and can bend.

If you hit a big bump, have the wheels inspected for damage. If the wheel is bent around the hub so it wobbles, it can often be straightened. Wheel repair experts say the alloy molecules have a memory and will return to their original configuration through the judicious use of hydraulic pressure or a little heat. Even repairs to the bead or outer edges of the wheels can be repaired if bent.

If not repaired, a bent wheel will start to flex as you drive it and a small crack can spread past the bead into the centre part of the rim. Once a crack develops past the outer lip of the wheel, the wheel must be replaced.

If the bead flange area is broken, the wheel can be welded up and re-machined if the broken area is not more than about four inches. If the break goes down into the central part of the wheel, the wheel must be replaced. Some shops will fill a hole (such as a bullet hole) if it is not cracked. Spokes and the centre hub will not be repaired if they are broken or cracked and the wheel must be replaced.

After a wheel is straightened or welded, it is re-machined. Many shops use computer-controlled lathes that take only a minimal cut off the wheel to clean it up. …