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Looks nice but can't take hard knocks

Question : ONE of my alloy wheels was damaged when my Perodua Kembara hit a pothole last week.

My local tyre centre suggested that the wheel could be straightened and refinished but I am uncomfortable with the idea.

I would be more comfortable with the idea of purchasing a new wheel. What would you advise?

Answer : THE term "alloy wheel" is widely used to describe wheels made from aluminium mixed (or alloyed) with small quantities of other metals, carefully chosen to give the final product the desired strength and other properties. Alloy wheels are good looking, light in weight and, in general, run cooler than their steel counterparts.

You have good reason to be uncomfortable with the idea of using a refurbished alloy wheel on your vehicle.

When subjected to severe stress, steel wheels tend to bend whereas aluminium alloys, which are stiffer and more brittle, are more likely to crack rather than bend.

Wheels made from both types of metal can be easily damaged on poor road surfaces, especially with the current trend towards low-profile tyres, which offer the rims much less protection.

Modern alloy wheels are usually of a single-piece construction, cast from an alloy of aluminium (or, in the case of the more exotic and expensive types, magnesium) and then machine finished.

Any post-production distortion of the wheel usually results in internal material fracture, although it may not be obvious from a casual inspection by the human eye.

Such cracks can normally only be detected by sophisticated methods such as X-rays. Unless you have your refurbished wheel X-rayed for cracks, there is no way of telling if it still safe for use on your vehicle.

In the interest of safety, therefore, it would be advisable to replace the damaged alloy wheel.


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