Tyre shops throughout New Zealand have been reporting a significant increase in the number of cracked alloy rims detected on customers cars. Usually many customers think their tyre has a puncture but investigation by a tyre technician discovers that the pressure loss is due to a damaged wheel. Sometimes the leak is caused by a crack and other times it is due to the wheel being buckled.
Cracked and damaged wheels are caused by a number of factors, hitting kerbs and pot holes is a major cause, but it’s not always so simple. Some modern tyres have extremely low profiles like 40, 35 or even 30 and have minimal cushioning to protect the rim from the road. This places additional stress on the rim which long term can cause the rim to crack; especially when the tyres have been run at lower pressures due to lack of regular maintenance or for the drivers comfort. Of course there are also some very cheap and lightweight alloy rims of debatable quality on the market which may be more prone to failure.
Often damaged and cracked rims can be repaired by specialist repairers but the process is not cheap. n.b. Alloy rims must be repaired by specialist repairers using an approved process; they can not be bashed back into shape with a hammer!
Maintenance of correct tyre pressures is crucial to the good health of both your wheels and tyres. Low tyre pressures kill both wheels and tyres and also increase petrol consumption and dramatically deduct tyre mileage. It is generally recommended that super low profile tyres are run at 38 to 45 psi, but this will vary from vehicle to vehicle. The Campaign for Better Tyres recommends that tyre pressures, including the spare tyre, are checked monthly.