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Are repaired wheels from my Great Falls body shop safe to drive on?

Recently a customer came to us at Flawless auto body here in Great Falls MT with a question about a crack in one of the wheels on his Lotus. He wanted to know if it was ok to drive as is, could he get them repaired, or did the wheel need to be replaced.

Image of remanufactured wheeel in greatfalls MT
Too many Great Falls body shops shops cut corners in order to make an extra buck, at the possible risk of putting their customers’ safety at risk, even if it is unintentional. One of those hotly debated cost cutting measures is that of reconditioned wheels. Entire industries have popped up which offer mobile wheel reconditioning to the auto body industry.

What are reconditioned wheels?

Great Falls auto body shops have taken damaged wheels and used a variety of techniques, like welding, re-machining, and heating the wheels, to recondition them in order to re-use them on a vehicle.  The insurance companies who are paying the repair bill push some of this use of reconditioned or repaired wheels on to body shops. Most of the time this is done by mobile wheel reconditioning companies who specialize in wheel straightening and repair.
Through this process, shops can make remanufactured wheels appear safe and once again intact. However most car manufacturers recommend against using remanufactured wheels because once the basic integrity of a wheel has been affected, the whole part is no longer considered usable.  These car manufacturers have issued specific guidelines to collision repair shops warning against the use of these reconditioned wheels, because they jeopardize not only the mechanical functionality of your vehicle, but also the safety of you and your passengers.

What damage can reconditioned wheels cause my car?

Wheels that have been damaged can never really be restored to original condition.  The wheel center could separate from the rim, the rim could split and several other issues could occur. These could impact braking, steering and your ability to control the vehicle. The exception to this rule is if the wheel was only scuffed and not significantly damaged or the metal was never harmed. A damaged wheel coating or paint is only cosmetic and easily repairable.  Damage to the metal, however, can structural problems that only become worse with common repair techniques like welding, and may lead to a number of problems. These can come in the form of punctured tires to catastrophic wheel separation failure.    

Why would a Great Falls MT  body shop use reconditioned wheels?

An auto body shop in Great Falls might use reconditioned wheels because they’re cheaper than brand-new wheels, which allows the shop to quote a lower price to vehicle owners and auto insurance companies.  A shop that cares more about your money than your safety would only make a  poor decision like this.

How much price difference for replacement wheels VS repaired wheels?

New wheels for a car, depending on the size and manufacturer could cost from $150- $1,000 per wheel. Most usually fall in the $400 a wheel range.
Repairing wheels usually costs around $75 per wheel depending on the severity.

At Flawless Auto Body, we like to remind customers that wheels and tires are the only parts of your vehicle to make contact with the road.  This is why it is imperative that they get handled with respect and care.  If your wheels were damaged in an accident, make sure that your auto body shop replaces them with new wheels and not reconditioned ones. At our shop, we never recommend repairing them beyond a simple sanding and painting for typical “curb rash” issues.


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