How to Know When It's Time for a New Set of Rims

Knowing when to buy new rims is absolutely crucial. Using quality rims helps prevent avoidable accidents, improve performance, maintain your vehicle's stunning look and save money. Replacing your wheel can also eliminate stress caused by frequent or unexpected breakdowns. Visible damage is one of the most obvious signals that it's time to change your rims. Other signs include recurring tire pressure loss, excessive vibrations, repetitive alignment issues and handling challenges. 

We'll discuss these warning signs in detail, along with other helpful tips to extend your rims' life span.

How Do You Know When You Need New Wheels?  

Here are five signs it's time to buy new rims:

1. Visible Damage

The most basic sign it's time for a new set of wheels is physical damage. Quality rims can last a long time and endure tremendous stress and impact. However, they may lose their strength and wear. The rims may develop cracks or even bend, depending on the level of impact, or rust when exposed to the elements.

Damaged rims can make it challenging to maintain your tires' air pressure. Be proactive and invest in quality wheels to save your ride and unnecessary expenses.

2. Tire Pressure Loss

The rims on your vehicle help your tire store the air inside. As rims continue to wear, the tires lose air faster than expected. This loss can force you to pump up the tires more than usual, with your tire pressure signal constantly in your way. A bent or cracked wheel can cause air leaks or even press against the rubber and cause a flat. It's vital to fix these defects immediately to avoid serious blowouts.

3. Excessive Vibrations

Worn-out rims can cause excessive vibrations and shakiness that get transmitted up the steering column. Dents and bends affect the tire's structure and contact with the road surface, preventing it from turning smoothly. The vibration is usually felt where the bend is, so if you feel your vehicle shaking at the front, then it's likely one of the front wheels is damaged. 

These vibrations can cause fatigue and affect your driving comfort. It helps to replace the wheels as soon as possible.

4. Repetitive Alignment Issues

Wheel alignment ensures your tires are aligned with each other and the road according to the manufacturer's specifications. The process involves adjusting the vehicle's suspension — the device that connects the wheels to the car — and the angles of the tire to optimize how they come in contact with the road.

Wheel alignment reduces uneven tire wear, improves performance and keeps your wheels from pulling in one direction. Ultimately, a correct alignment enhances your vehicle's handling and reduces the risk of collisions. 

A damaged wheel can disrupt your vehicle's alignment and cause the problem to re-occur immediately after you fix it. In these instances, replacing your rims with new ones is recommended to save on repair times and costs.

5. Handling Issues

The wheels play an important role in how your car moves and turns. They translate the engine's power into motion, reflecting how your car accelerates and stops. Consequently, driving with damaged wheels can affect your vehicle's handling in many ways

  • It can impact how your tires move on the ground, making it hard to turn the steering wheel.
  • It can distort the alignment, dragging your vehicle in one direction. 
  • Excessive vibrations can result in uncomfortable rides and impact your steering. 

Securing new wheels can make your rides more comfortable and enhance safety.

Other Reasons Why You May Change Your Wheels

Here are some other reasons why you may want to change your wheels:

Aesthetic Change

Most car owners purchase new sets of wheels to give their vehicles an aesthetic upgrade. Beautiful and quality rims add value to the car and convey a strong message. It speaks of your taste and style, allowing you to express yourself without words.

There are multiple options you can choose from, depending on your preference. The wheels' material can impact how they look and feel on your vehicle, and so does the coating and finishing. You can secure original equipment manufacturer (OEM), aftermarket options and replica wheels, depending on your budget. Wheels are long-term investments, so choosing one that makes your vehicle stand out without compromising quality is best.

Performance Alteration

Your rims are integral to the vehicle's performance. It can affect the car's acceleration and impact control. Heavy and larger wheels tend to reduce your vehicle's speed but can enhance stability. The reason is that your car carries more weight, requiring more energy to move. At the same time, the car's contact with the ground increases, making it more stable. 

Larger wheels can also reduce the vehicle's braking distance and increase fuel consumption, depending on your car. However, the technology keeps improving, allowing heavier wheels to perform more efficiently, especially for trucks and bigger cars. In terms of loading capacity, larger wheels tend to have a better grip on the ground, which can improve the vehicle's load-bearing ability.

What Causes Rim Damage?

Knowing what can damage your rims helps you avoid potential wear once you get new ones. Common causes of wheel damage include:

1. Hitting Potholes

Hitting potholes is a common cause of rim damage for unsuspecting drivers. Even minor holes or bumps in the roadway can cause significant damage. The extent of the damage may depend on many factors, including the depth, width and sharpness of the pothole, the speed or force at which the car was moving, and the angle at which it struck the hole. 

2. Hitting or Bumping Curbs

Driving too close to curbs can cause damage to your wheels. This issue can happen especially during parallel parking, pulling out or turning into a lane with curbs on the side. A slight scratch might seem insignificant. However, it can leave unsightly marks on the rim or impact the coating, which can lead to rust. Curbs can also cause deeper cuts in the metal. It's best to slow down and ensure there are no obstacles when moving your vehicle, especially at night.

Damaged pavements are also prime culprits for most wheel damage. You may carefully avoid curbs, but damaged asphalt can also impact your rims. These vast cracks in the road or lanes can create a ledge capable of scratching your wheels, often hard enough to dent them. It's vital to watch out for under-maintained roads, parking lots and areas undergoing repaving. 

3. Driving on Road Debris

Roads host all manner of debris, including rocks, broken glass and metal objects, that can create cuts or bend your wheels. Weather conditions like intense rainfall and winds and human activities like construction can drop some of these objects onto the roads. 

While it's essential to maintain a high focus while driving, avoiding some of these obstacles can sometimes be challenging. Carefully slow down if you see debris in the road ahead — don't slam on the brakes, especially if someone else is driving right behind you.

4. Buildup of Brake Dust

Fine brake dust coats the rims whenever you step on the brakes. Over time, fine black dust can accumulate on the surface, primarily when the wheel is rarely maintained. This can result in pitted, dark-colored wheels and possibly lead to corrosion. You may correct this defect by refinishing the wheel or replacing it entirely. Have your car's brake system inspected if it's generating a lot of dust, too. 

5. Driving With Flat Tires

Tires help absorb road impacts and protect your rims against direct contact with the ground. Driving with deflated tires or tires too low for the road can cause significant damage. Having a flat tire reduces the bounce factor and stresses the wheels, especially when carrying heavy loads. It's best to pull over immediately after you get a flat tire and replace it with a spare. Driving with a deflated tire can bend your rims. Also, check your tire pressure regularly.

6. Using Certain Cleaning Products

Maintaining your wheels is crucial — an effective and popular way to do that is cleaning them periodically. Wheels gather materials like dirt, dust and grease, which can increase corrosion and cause the rims to lose their original color or shade. However, using the wrong cleaning product can also damage your rims. Avoid using general-purpose or abrasive cleaning products and choose products designed specifically for your kind of rims.

7. Driving on Salted Roads

Driving on salted winter roads exposes your rims to corrosion. Generally, rust can occur whenever iron meets oxygen. Water adds more oxygen to react with iron and accelerates oxidation. During winter, the roads add more "free floating ions" in the form of salt that dissolves in the water and increases rust formation. Salt is hard on metals and can cause your shiny rims to crack or flake, ruining their finish. 

There are many ways you can prevent this from happening to your tires:

  • Clean your wheels regularly to get rid of the harmful salts.
  • Use a protective coating on your wheels to prevent direct contact with the elements — apply a coat of wax before the start of the winter season.
  • Avoid driving through puddles where salty water collects in higher concentrations.

How Long Do Rims Last?

Rims might last you a decade, but the life span of a wheel depends on many factors, including:

  • The level of maintenance you perform
  • Impact on the road
  • The quality of the rim 
  • The base material

Inspecting your rims regularly and watching for signs of damage is crucial to maintaining their life span. 

How Should You Maintain Your Rims?

Maintaining your vehicle regularly can help it last longer and maintain its stunning look. Here are three tips for keeping your rims in peak condition:

1. Know the Base Material

Rims are made of different materials, including chrome, aluminum and steel. Chrome is relatively soft and commonly used to coat other metals. It has an excellent shine and can easily be polished. However, they require more care and attention than wheels of different materials like steel. 

Steel rims are robust and capable of withstanding harsh conditions, making them one of the most common wheel types. 

Aluminum wheels are generally more affordable than chrome and durable. They are also lightweight and easy to handle and maintain.

Besides knowing the materials used in manufacturing your wheels, it also helps to learn about the finish. There are many options, ranging from semi-gloss to chrome, each offering unique benefits. For example, semi-gloss finishes help reduce oxidation, especially for aluminum wheels.

2. Use Smart Cleaning Methods

Here are some guidelines to help you clean your wheels:

  • Choose products carefully: Be careful and selective about the cleaning products and chemicals you use on your wheels. Read the instructions on the product before applying. When in doubt, check the manufacturer's recommendations or use only mild soap and water solution. 
  • Clean rims when cool: Wait for the wheels to cool before applying cleaning agents. Hot wheels dry up soap and water too quickly, leaving stains behind. Similarly, you could wait for a cloudy day to clean your rims so the sun doesn't dry your cleaning solution before you can rinse it off.
  • Avoid abrasives: Use soft brush pads and polishing agents. This helps you avoid dings and scratches. 

3. Consider Leaving Cleaning to Experts

Auto detailing professionals have the experience and expertise to clean different wheel types. They know the right products and tools to use and take the load off your shoulders. However, choosing a company with an excellent track record and reputation is best. You may search the internet, ask family and friends for recommendations, or inquire from a wheel manufacturer or supplier.

Do You Need to Replace All Four Rims at Once?

It's best to replace all four wheels at the same time. Driving with one or two different rims on your vehicle can look unattractive. Combining different wheels can also affect your vehicle's weight distribution, decreasing steering efficiency and overall performance. Rims are long-term investments, so purchase quality models that match your taste and style and fit your vehicle.

How Do You Know if a Set of Rims Will Fit Your Car?

Measure the distance from the wheel's center point to where it is mounted. This is called "the offset." Add that to half of your wheel's width to determine the back space, but subtract if you want to find the front space. Compare the measurements to your wheel to see if it fits.

Alternatively, you can shop online with a trusted rims distributor. You can then filter results by make, model and year to find wheels that'll fit your ride.

Buy Quality Rims From OE Wheels 

Learning when to replace your rims can reduce the risk of accidents and save you money. Wheels are significant investments, so purchasing high-quality types that match your vehicle's design is best. Also, choose a rim that fits your personality and taste. 

OE Wheel is one of the largest independent wheel distributors in North America. We have over two decades of experience delivering high-quality wheels to car enthusiasts nationwide. We also offer free shipping for purchases within the continental United States and a lifetime structural warranty against manufacturer defects. Contact us to learn more!