Vehicle rims do get cracked often after hitting obstacles on the road or driving through potholes at top speeds.
Though drivers can’t really stop that from happening completely, they can still manage to reduce the incidence of cracking rims through careful driving, in order to minimize the impact on their wheels. So, what happens if your rim gets cracked?
Broadly speaking, cracked rims can be welded, but only if certain conditions are met and the right people to undertake the repairs are on hand.
The size of the crack, depth and direction are all important in whether you should weld a rim or not. To start with, it is just not advisable to attempt mending a cracked rim, particularly if the crack is wide to some extent.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that you replace the wheel completely because there is just not any guarantee with a cracked rim.
For example, a cracked rim is at best compromised, and consequently, its structural integrity can’t be relied upon as would have been the case previously.
This is akin to cracks in the spokes of a wheel. Most significantly, you are not under any circumstances advised to weld cracks in the inside barrel of a rim, though if you must, you can manage to weld small cracks on its surface, since cracks in this place can be easily opened up for welding.
This means that all cracks in inaccessible places should not be welded. Even after very careful mending of a cracked rim, there are still limitations to how much distance or stress you can make it to bear.(Read Also: How Long Can You Drive On A Bent Rim?)
Why do my rims keep cracking?
The most common causes of repeated rim cracking are driving across hard obstacles on the road, hitting a pothole or ramming the vehicle against a curb.
Driving on a flat tire especially across bumps on the road can also cause repeated rim cracking. It is therefore important that you keep checking your wheels regularly for early detection of any malfunction whatsoever.
Why do aluminium wheels crack?
Aluminium wheels crack commonly due to the kinds of stress that afflict other wheels too. Consequently, aluminium wheels can crack from impact with potholes, road debris, and other hazards too. They may also bend sometimes, even if they don’t crack.
How do you fix a cracked rim?
Before you initiate any rim welding, make sure that it is of the repairable size, at a place you can easily reach, as well as whether the metallic substance of the rim is one that can take welding.
For example, aluminum wheels are more difficult to weld than most other metals for different reasons.
Assess all this before you embark on any rim repairs. Fixing a rim with a small crack take a few careful steps and procedures, which you can’t execute rashly or without being constantly on guard. The following steps will suffice for this purpose:
First, you should judge or assess the extent or severity of the damage and decide upon your finding whether it is logical to carry out any rim repairs or not.
Essentially, for any crack more than one on the inside edge of the rim, it is better to replace the rim and not to conduct any repairs.
Similarly, if the crack is more than one anywhere on the rim, you should replace it too, and so should you for bent wheels as well. Furthermore, for any wheel that has undergone previous repairs, replace it too. (Read Also: Can You Put A New Tire On A Bent Rim?)
Some of the tools needed for this repair work are a large hacksaw, oval file, flat file, rasp file, small round file, and large round file. Others are 80 to 100 grit Emery sandpaper, 320 grit Emery sandpaper, WD 40, thinners, black marker pen, drill and drill bits.
You also need a hammer, small flat chisel or screwdriver, small belt sander, TLG welder 150 amps and 1.52 mm alloy rod with 5 to 10 per cent magnesium, chain or sling, nut and long bolt.
First, you should hold the alloy wheel to be mended in place, after inspection of the crack and saw it down on one side of the crack.
Now, using a screwdriver or a flat punch, tease it out by tapping it with a hammer before you drill a hole at the end of the crack with a 13 mm drill, slowly but not right clean through. Do the same to the underside as well. This will basically enhance the weldability of the wheel.
This step involves welding with a tig. Start welding at the inside of the wheel, at the point of your first drill in a circular motion.
Here, you will test the wheel after finishing the repairs by checking for any visual signs of any crack using a black marker and a little drop of thinner.
Also, you may test its sound with a hammer gently. If it gives a dull crack sound, it is still cracked, but if it is a constant ringing sound until it diminishes, it shows that the wheel has been well repaired.
Is it safe to weld a cracked alloy rim?
Yes, it can be safe, if the crack is small and non-structural. Where the crack is large and has affected the structural integrity of the wheel, it is not safe to weld it.
In such a situation, the best option is to simply replace the rim with a new one, for both your safety and that of the vehicle too.
Is it safe to drive on a cracked wheel?
No, it is definitely not safe to drive on a cracked wheel at all. For one, it can affect the performance of your tire and secondly, this can even cause tire blowout, which can lead to the loss of control of the vehicle and eventually an accident.
In essence, always avoid driving on a cracked rim for however short the distance, except maybe onto the bed of a tow truck.
How long does it take to fix a cracked rim?
The time it takes to fix a cracked rim is dependent on the size and site of the crack ( which is a factor that determines whether you can reach the crack well or not). All in all, it does not take much more than one hour to fix an average-sized crack in the rim of a vehicle.
Can JB weld a cracked rim?
Yes, JB can weld a cracked rim, but it depends on the size of the crack. However, it is good to know that JB causes more stress because it makes the wheel to be off-balance and thus continues to crack progressively.
This may eventually break up the rim completely. Notably, if it is a small and non-structural crack, JB weld can effectively take care of it and also help the rim to retain air.
Frequently asked questions( FAQ)
Will a cracked rim hold air?
No, a cracked rim hardly holds any air in the tire. Though the rates of air loss will be determined by the size of the crack as well as its site on the wheel.
Whenever there is any such crack, particularly if it has penetrated or got the structure of the rim involved, it is highly unlikely for it to retain air.
How many times can you weld an alloy rim?
In the first place, it is highly not recommended to weld a rim at all, much less that of welding it repeatedly. Essentially, therefore, you should never endeavour to weld any rim more than once.
After the first attempt, if the rim tears or cracks again, after the first welding, simply get it replaced with a new one.
Doing anything otherwise is, to say the least, putting your life ( and the lives of others too) in avoidable harm.
Will fix a flat help with a cracked rim?
No, it really cannot. Fix a flat is a chemical agent that is useful only in attending to tire pressure issues either when you park the vehicle or you are on a journey. It accomplishes all these tasks without any cause for concern.
Is it worth it repairing a cracked rim?
For the purpose of taking you to the nearest place where you can get a new set of rims or onto the bed of a tow truck, the cost actually overshadows the benefits (if any at all).
Therefore, your best bet is to have such a rim replaced entirely. As a result, it is not worth it repairing a cracked wheel or rim, except maybe where you are dealing with a very tiny crack, which is easily manageable just to get you to an auto repair shop. Otherwise, no. It is not worth the effort to repair a cracked wheel or rim.
What are some of the causes for rims damage?
There are several reasons why rims do get cracked. Some of these reasons are: driving forcefully on a flat tire especially across bumps and other obstacles or objects on the road, driving over a curb and hitting a pothole forcefully.
Another major causes are the location of the cracks in rims. Any crack that is located inside of the rim and that affects its structural integrity or strength, basically compromises it thoroughly.
The direction of the crack is also important in how quickly the rim gets damaged eventually. Finally, if a cracked wheel is welded by a skilled and experienced welder, there is less chance of its total damage as against where it was fixed by an inexperienced person.
In essence, you should seek the assistance of experienced welders in all issues relating to welding vehicle rims, where that is possible without any harm.
How do you decide whether to weld a rim or not?
(1). It is very risky to weld a rim. However, when it becomes unavoidable, you may have to do so only if certain conditions prevail. First, the site of the crack is a pointer as to whether you should weld the rim or not.
For this reason, any crack inside the barrel of the rim must not be welded. However, you can weld cracks on either the back or the inboard side of the wheel. In addition, all cracks on the front face of the rim affect its strength and must not be welded.
(2). The direction of the crack also matters with regards to whether you should weld or not. For instance, if the crack crosses the flange and beads area at right angles to the direction of wheel spins, it can be welded, but if the crack is parallel to the spin direction of the wheel, you are not advised to weld.
(3). The skill and experience of the welder are also very important as well. This is because aluminium rims must be welded with a TIG ( tungsten inert gas) welding.
On the other hand, aluminium wheels that are MIG (metal inert gas) should not be welded. Rim welding should only be undertaken by highly experienced welders who know both TIG and BIG welding requirements, details, and approaches.
Otherwise, you may end up harming the rims more, rather than actually getting their cracks fixed.
Can A Cracked Rim Be Welded – Conclusion
The rims of the vehicle bear the brunt on the road. How you use them matters a lot in what happens to them eventually. The strength of the force with which you drive over obstacles and hit potholes can either bend or break your rims or both.
Whenever your rims are compromised for whatever reasons, it also affects the efficiency of your driving and control of the vehicle too.
In severe cases, accidents may occur with severe consequences. For this and many other reasons, vehicle rims repairs must not be treated lightly.
Before you venture into any rim repairs, make sure that the crack is repairable, that you have an expert to undertake the repairs and so on. Despite all these considerations, it is simply best if you will replace the rims and not just repair them.
I am passionate about all things automotive and have a deep understanding of the topic. As a mechanic, I use my free time to share knowledge of everyday challenges that any car owner can experience – helping you make informed decisions about tires.