5 Symptoms of a Bent Rim (and Repair Cost)

When you’re driving down the road, you often don’t think twice about your vehicle’s wheels and rims. But the only thing holding each tire in place with all the right pressure is two continuous raised strips of metal on each side of the wheel (the rims).

And sometimes even a small collision or everyday wear and tear can bend the rims which can lead to big problems. But how do you know if your vehicle has a bent rim, can you drive with it, and how much will you need to spend to fix the problem?

Wheel vs Rim

While many people use the terms wheel and rim interchangeably, they’re not talking about the same thing. The rim is a part of the wheel. The wheel consists of the entire metal part of the assembly, while the rim refers to the outermost edges on both sides of the wheel.

The rim is where the tire pushes against when you install it and serves to hold the tire in place while you’re driving. The rim is a small part of the wheel, and a bent rim will present different symptoms than if another part of the wheel is bent.

wheel vs rim

Signs You Have a Bent Rim

If your vehicle has a bent rim, there are a few different potential signs that can help you confirm your suspicion. Here we’ve highlighted five things you should look out for if you think your vehicle might have a bent rim.

#1 – Excessive Vibrations/Shaking

steering wheel shakes

A bent rim will throw off the weight and balance of the wheel, and the faster you drive, the more you’ll feel it. The faster you go the more you’ll feel the vehicle vibrate and shake, which can affect the overall steering and handling.

#2 – Visible Damage

damaged car rim

Sometimes all you need to know about a bent rim is that it looks awful! You might notice scuffs, scratches, cracks, or just an overall curvature to the rim that shouldn’t be there. If you’re not paying too much attention to your vehicle’s performance, this might be the first symptom you notice.

But even if you’re not actively noticing a ton of other performance problems if you visibly see a bent rim, you should fix it. A bent rim can go from causing no problems to throwing the entire tire off the rim if you hit the wrong pothole or bump.

#3 – Unusual Treadwear

uneven tire wear

If your vehicle has had a bent rim for an extended amount of time, you may notice a difference in the treadwear. A bent rim will cause the wheel to vibrate while driving, and these vibrations will make a notable difference in how the tread wears down.

You might notice excessive treadwear compared to the tire on the other rim, or you might have patches (inner or outer) on the tire that are wearing down faster than the rest.

#4 – Decreased Braking Performance

causes of spongy brakes

If your tire isn’t spinning in a completely balanced way it can throw off how evenly the brakes apply. Not only can this extend your stopping distance when you hit the brakes, but if you hit them too hard or fast, it can pull your vehicle in one direction, causing you to lose control.

See Also: 6 Reasons You Have Uneven Brake Pad Wear

#5 – Consistent Tire Pressure Loss

driving on a flat tire

When everything is working the way it should, your tire sits against the edge of the rim and a bead forms that holds all the air inside the tire. A bent rim can create a small gap in the bead for the air to escape and even cause your tire pressure light to come on.

The size of the gap will determine how fast the air leaks, but either way it’s a problem you need to address as soon as possible.

Related: What Happens If You Drive On a Flat Tire?

Bent Rim vs Unbalanced Tire

While a bent rim and an unbalanced tire might present similar symptoms, they’re two completely different problems that require two completely different solutions. Bent rims involve actual damage to the rim, while unbalanced tires come about from different weights on the tire.

When installing tires on the wheels, you need to balance the tires by adding weights to the correct spots to keep vibrations and shaking from occurring while driving at higher speeds.

Read Also: Average Wheel Balancing Cost

What Causes a Bent Rim?

bad road conditions

By far the most common cause of a bent rim is some impact to the wheel. This could be you driving into a curb, hitting a large pothole, or something hitting the rim.

While you might think it would take a large impact to bend the rim, sometimes even a small impact can lead to a bent room.

Furthermore, if you have an older vehicle, the internal structure of the rim can break down over time. When this happens enough trips over potholes or speed bumps can be enough to slowly start bending the rim.

Is It Safe to Drive With a Bent Rim?

No. While you can often get away with driving on a bent rim, you risk the tire rapidly losing air pressure or slipping off the bead completely. The rim is there to help seal the tire, and any kind of damage to the rim will make it less effective at its job.

The last thing you want when you’re driving down the road is to lose a tire and lose control of your vehicle, so don’t drive with a bent rim!

Can a Bent Rim Be Repaired?

severe bent rim
Severe bent rim (likely not repairable)

Typically, a certified repair shop can repair a bent rim instead of replacing the entire wheel. However, it all comes down to the extent of the damage.

If the tire is still on the rim and holding air pressure, or there’s only a slight loss in air pressure, a repair shop should be able to fix it. But if you can no longer get the tire on the rim or there’s damage to other parts of the wheel, the repair shop might recommend you replace the entire wheel instead.

Bent Rim Repair Cost

There are a lot of factors that can affect how much it will cost to repair a bent rim. Not only do you need to factor in the extent of the damage, but you also need to look at the type of rim you have.

With this in mind, you can expect to spend between $75 and $300 to repair a bent rim. And while this might seem like a lot of money, it’s quite the bargain when you compare it to the cost of replacing the wheel.

For a new wheel, you can expect to spend between $150 to $500 (or more) in most cases depending on the size, quality, and type of wheel you’re looking for. Sometimes finding a match is the trickiest part, especially with aftermarket wheels.

Finally, when factoring in the cost of fixing a bent rim, keep in mind that it’s only about getting the rim back in the right shape. If there’s damage to a powder-coated or Plasti Dipped rim, you’ll need to add this cost to the repair cost.

Does Insurance Cover Rim Damage?

While this answer can vary from insurance company to insurance company, most insurance companies will cover rim damage as a part of their collision coverage. However, most insurance companies will not cover custom rims.

But even if your insurance company will cover rim damage, you might want to think twice about using it. Take a look at the deductible on your policy and compare it to the cost of the repairs.

Finally, keep in mind that you might lose some discounts on your policy and that most insurance companies will raise your rates after you use your insurance.

If it’s part of a larger insurance claim, you should try to get the repairs, but for a repair to just one rim, it might be a better idea to skip the insurance claim.

When Is Wheel Replacement Necessary?

If you take your vehicle to a professional repair shop and they can’t fix it, then it’s time for a new wheel. Before you go to a repair shop, get a quote for a new wheel, and then compare it to the cost of repairing the wheel.

If the cost to repair the rim is significantly cheaper and the technician says the repair will last, save yourself some money and go for the repair! But if it’s a similar cost or the repair technician doesn’t think it’s a long-term solution, go ahead and replace the wheel.

Adam Mann

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