When pushed, WCC is open to sharing some of their experiences with wheels and their propensity to bend.

  • They tell us that wheels from European manufacturers, with the exception of cars with forged alloys, tend to be soft and more likely to bend. Forged wheels, on the other hand, are more expensive to manufacture but are similar in weight and inherently stronger and harder to bend. WCC claims that they will receive 20-year-old forged Mercedes wheels that are in solely for refinishing. Non-forged wheels of the same age tend to almost always need bend-repair.

  • Two and three-piece wheels can be easier to bend because the outer lips are usually made of softer alloys.

  • Interestingly, newer alloys used in wheels are stronger. With the improved strength, wheels can be made lighter and mean less unsprung weight for improved performance. The stronger alloys, combined with smaller mass even out so that an alloy's tendency to bend has remained almost the same over the years.

  • An icon appearing to show the letters JLL can be seen on most any wheel sold in the United States. While many believe JLL to be an OEM manufacturer, it is actually a marking for a standard required to be shown on the front of a wheel that is marketed in Japan, much like DOT.

  • Running tires at higher pressure can help save the wheels. On a lower profile tire, it is critical to keep a close eye on tire pressure. Running a low profile tire on the higher side will prevent wheel damage, but keep an eye on wear pattern to ensure the tire is wearing correctly.

  • It is common to have wheel repair performed during the winter when drivers are typically running winter wheels and snow tires on the car.

  • Turnaround for wheel repair is about one or two days for just straightening. Typically with a smaller inner rim bend with no need for refinishing, a customer can drive in and have repair performed while they wait. However, with an outer rim bend, it is usually necessary to refinish the wheel, as the process of straightening will leave marks on the wheel. Should a wheel require refinishing, the turnaround is more like three to five working days. Chrome plating takes several weeks as WCC ships chrome-plating jobs to an outside source in California.

    In order to evaluate the potential for wheel repair, we had a set of severely damaged 17-inch alloy wheels sent to Wheel Collision Center for repair. These particular alloys are original equipment on a Volvo 850 R and had been delivered in their damaged state as part of the acquisition of Swedespeed's Project 854R.

    The wheels were originally finished in an anthracite gray color from the factory. They'd also been subjected to a liberal dose of curb scrapes, bends and one particular wheel even showed a crack. In some cases, the outer lip of the wheels had been completely chewed off and we were curious to see just how much rebuilding WCC could perform.

    In addition to full repair, we also chose to change the finish of the wheels and have them painted a bright silver finish that would help differentiate the Volvo project car and show the potential a change in finish can have.

    As it turned out, the cracked wheel was irreparable, leaving us in a quandry. A new wheel from Volvo was quite pricey and would come complete with a perfect anthracite finish.

    Instead, we opted to have WCC source us a matching wheel that was also damaged and to refinish it in our specified finish to complete the set.

    Within two days WCC had sourced a damaged 17-inch wheel matching ours and by the next week we received a call notifying us of the completion of our wheels.

    While the wheels were with WCC, we called Tire Rack and had a set of new tires delivered.

    Upon return to WCC, we had them mount and balance the new tires to the alloys.

    They first invited us to examine the wheels. The result was most pleasing. The finish is very good and the rebuilt outer lips of the wheels are flawless. The wheels looked brand new, though the difference in finish is quite striking and has had its desired effect on them, bestowing Swedespeed's project car with a subtle, yet different, look.

    For those running expensive or rare alloy wheels, or even just those of us on a budget, it is somewhat reassuring to know that there are options other than simply purchasing new replacement wheels. Companies such as WCC can be found throughout the country, but it is important to note that the skill and levels of quality offered by such companies can vary greatly.

    Contact Info:

    Wheel Collision Center - http://www.wheelcollision.com
    The Tire Rack - http://www.tirerack.com
    Swedespeed - http://www.swedespeed.com

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