Six Rim Damage Causes and How to Avoid Them

Jul 2, 2018

When you’re regularly driving on bad roads and at some point realize that one wheel is no longer rolling evenly, it can be hard to know what exactly the rim damage causes were. Everyone blames the potholes and, admittedly, they’re pretty bad but here in NYC, we drive over a dozen potholes a day just to get to work and back so which one was it? Did one of your familiar commute potholes finally become fatal, was it just a bad break, or was there a new awful pothole you went over recently that caused the damage? The fact of the matter is that it might not have been a flat tire. There are a number of road conditions and, yes, driver mistakes that can result in rim damage, a problem that only becomes more likely with low quality, broken, and downright porous roads.

Rim Damage Causes Pothole

When you’re driving on the wrecked roads of the city, gravel farm roads, or the highways in between, if you don’t want to repair your rims again in the near future, watch out for these seven common hazards to your rims.

Driving on a Flat Tire

The first and honestly one of the most likely causes of rim damage is working with tires that are too low for the roughness of the road. Every time you go over a bump, the springiness of well-inflated tires absorbs that bump and keeps the hard metal of the inner wheel and rim safe. If your tires are flat or if your tire profile is too thin for the roads in question, then the bounce factor won’t be enough to absorb the impact and something hard is likely to hit your rims. It’s important to understand that as the temperature changes, heat increases the inflation level of your tires and cold will decrease it. Consider driving carefully or topping up on cold days and remember to check for over inflation when the weather warms up to avoid blow-outs.

As for low-profile tires, while it may look sleek and drive smooth on the few nice roads, if you want to drive your vehicle in anything other than ideal conditions, stick with big cushy standard profile tires and consider looking for improved durability, considering what the car will be dealing with.

Going Over a Curb Where a Driveway Should Have Been

We all make this mistake from time to time and sometimes it absolutely looked like a driveway from the one side but when your car drops suddenly with an unpleasant impact onto the lower pavement, you realize that maybe it wasn’t a driveway after all. Or maybe it was supposed to be a driveway and the pavers either messed up the job or the road as since, somehow, moved further away than it should be.

Whether you’re pulling out of an unfamiliar gas station or just trying to escape a traffic jam at what looked like a good opportunity, if you happen to drive off a curb, the height and sharpness of the drop will determine whether or not your tires can absorb the shock and if your rims take damage. The best way to avoid this one is, of course, to not go over curbs but if you’re not sure if a section of pavement is a driveway or a curb, watch where other cars are leaving and follow them instead of guessing.

Salted Winter Roads and Corrosion

One of the sneakiest forms of rim damage, especially if you don’t give two shakes for the finish on your rims or hubcaps, is corrosion. Driving through chemicals and corrosive substances can cause this, but the most common cause is salted winter roads. Salt may increase the traction on roads and melt ice but is actually terrible for almost every surface it touches including both the road and your wheels. Over time, depending on the metal alloy, the salt and other corrosive environmental factors can eat away at at your rims until they are no longer even and it can even cause the seal with the tires to break.

If the corrosion gets too bad, you will need rim repair even if you don’t suffer a road impact but, chances are, that the weakened state of the corroded metal will simply make each upcoming pothole and curb more likely to cause a problematic bend or crack in the wheel. To avoid this problem, keep an eye on your rims. Remember to check them out at least once a week. Scuffing is survivable if you don’t care about appearance but pitting and an appearance of uneven wear should be checked out and repaired. This will help you catch signs of corrosion before it risks making your rims weak or uneven.

Driving Too Close to the Curb

When you’re parallel parking, the goal is to always park as close to the curb as possible without actually scraping your wheels against it. Naturally, you want to keep your vehicle out of the road, make it easy for passengers to step out, and park as efficiently as possible. However, if you park too close, you won’t have room for your wheels to maneuver when you pull out. A light scrape against the wheel is one thing but actively running your wheel against the curb as you turn out can cause serious damage. After all, it’s not like the curb is going to give way so that only leaves your wheel.

When this happens, you can do enough damage to press your wheel out of position, bend it at the level of the curb, or scrape deep enough to need repairs. There is a fine line between efficient parking and putting your wheels in danger. If you’re particularly worried about curbs, practice parking with cones and lines to get a feel for what the right parking distance looks like from the driver’s seat without putting your car at risk.

Driving Over Broken Pavement

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are about curbs, the pavement of the road itself is just too rough to do anything about. Huge cracks in the road, across or along with the lanes, can create a ledge that is more than capable of impacting your wheels hard enough to dent your rims. In many ways, going over broken pavement is much like driving over a curb and, depending on the pavement, you could have to go over multiple large cracks before you’re able to return to a more reliable driving surface.

Watch out for under-maintained parking lots and roads and areas that are being ripped up for repaving. Do not take shortcuts into unknown roads and parking lots unless you can clearly see that the pavement is whole and reliable.

Hitting a Notorious Pothole

Of course, in this list, we’ve covered almost everything except the primary culprit, potholes. Potholes can be as small as a baseball cap or wide enough to swallow two lanes. Depending on the depth of the hole and the sharpness of the edges, these can look terrible but in reality turn out to be a minor bump or seem like a small nothing pothole and nearly rip the wheel off your car with the impact. You only really know after an inspection. Remember that even if you can’t see a visible dent, the damage could be on the inner edge of the rim instead of the outer edge so if you think you’ve dented your rims, have them inspected.

If your rims are damaged or if you’re worried that they might be, we’ll help you get back on the road with properly restored wheels. Contact TLC Metal today!