The April rains have once again brought with them the problem of roads scattered with potholes. “Apart from the obvious threat to the safety of motorists, hitting a pothole has the potential to damage crucial vehicle components such as tyres, rims, shocks and mags,” says Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), an association of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI). In 80% of the cases when a vehicle hits a pothole it is the rim, one of the most safety critical items on the car, that gets damaged and not the tyre.
Ranft says rim damage can often lead to other problems like vehicle alignment and suspension problems. “If the tyre has deflated this is an obvious sign the rim is damaged. If everything looks fine on the surface there are other tell-tale signs to check. Changes in the balancing and alignment are important to check for. If you feel a vibration in the steering wheel, the chances are one of the front rims are damaged and if you feel the vibration on the seat, then it’s is usually a rear rim.”
While it’s not always possible to prevent damage, it is advisable to know how best to solve the problem. “Rims can be very expensive and it is not always essential to purchase a completely new rim provided you use a reputable supplier. Consult your local manufacturer or fitment centre first to determine the extent of the damage. They should then be able to refer you to a specialist rim repairer.”
Ranft adds that it is essential that the repairer is SABS approved and carries an approved ISO 9001 accreditation. “Unfortunately, not many repairers have x-ray technology and can repair according to a certain standard so one needs to select carefully,” he advises.
“Should you suspect that you may have sustained damages to your rims but are unsure, feel free to call on an accredited MIWA shop or an accredited RMI fitment centre for an evaluation. Most importantly, in the event of damage, remember to consider your repair options first, ahead of buying new rims.”
He also reminds motorists that any vehicle damage from road works and poor road conditions on the ‘N’ roads can be addressed to the South African National Roads Agency and their insurer directly.