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Rims are the outer edge of your tires. They’re usually made of metal, so they’re sturdy and durable. But no matter how tough, they’re still not immune to damage. In this article, we’ll explore the risks of driving with a bad rim and discuss its causes and symptoms.

Is It Safe to Drive With a Cracked Rim?

No. Driving with a cracked rim is a safety hazard. You’re only putting your safety at risk if you insist on driving with a bad rim.

Note that you’re not likely to even notice a cracked rim unless it’s easy to spot. To be sure your rims are okay, make sure to have your oil changed at a reputable tire store and have them rotate and balance the tires. Make sure they check for cracked rims.

To be sure your rims are okay, make sure to have your oil changed at a reputable tire store and have them rotate and balance the tires.

– Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

There are stamped steel rims and cast aluminum rims, to name just two, and they have different characteristics and different problems.

old car rim destroyed
The rim in the photo was destroyed when a deer rifle accidentally discharged inside the cab of the pickup, pierced the floorboard, and made its way here. This tire immediately went flat. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Let’s look at some of the potential issues you can encounter if you insist on driving your vehicle:

Wheel Disintegration

Cracks on a rim can weaken your wheel’s structure. Even tiny cracks can widen due to road vibration. Extensive damage can lead to rapid wheel disintegration which negatively impacts vehicle control and stability.

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Tire Blowout

If you notice that the cracks in your wheel rim is near the tire’s sidewall, take your ride to an auto repair shop right away. Damage on the sidewall can put your tires at risk of blowing out. Blow outs can cause your car to slow down. In some cases, you can lose control of your vehicle.

Tire Separation

Cracks can also lead to tire separation—especially if the damage is near the wheel bead. Once the rim is not properly sealed with the wheel, air pressure will increase on one side of the tire, and your rim can separate from the wheel as you’re driving.

What Causes a Wheel’s Rim to Crack?

If rims are typically made of materials like stamped steel, magnesium, or and aluminum, how do they get damaged? Here are some of the possible reasons why your rims are cracked or damaged:

Road Collisions

Accidents on the road can cause extensive damage to your wheels. If you’ve recently been involved in a crash, make sure to check your wheel rims for any signs of damage, and have your vehicle serviced at a trusted auto repair shop near you.

Flat Tires

Driving with an underinflated or flat tire can put too much strain on your wheels—-including your rims. Generally, it’s recommended to maintain a tire pressure between 32 and 36 PSI. However, it can vary depending on your ride’s make and model.

Aside from damaging your wheel rim, driving with a flat tire will also affect your ride’s suspension system and other nearby components. You can check out this article if you’d like to know more about the bad effects of low tire pressure.

Extreme Temperature

Too much heat and cold can also damage your wheel rims. Metal expands when heated and contracts when cold. These changes can cause cracks in your wheel rims. Although the cracks can be minor at first, they can expand as you continue to drive.

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The impact of hitting a pothole can damage parts of your tires—even sturdy components like your rims. According to a study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2022, US drivers spent a total of $26.5 billion in 2021 on repairs that are related to pothole damage.


Unfortunately, avoiding a pothole can sometimes cause you to hit something else, like a curb. The force from hitting a curb can also damage several vehicle components, including your wheel rims. Be careful not to drive near a curb and make sure to focus and be aware of your surroundings when maneuvering around tight spots.

Signs Your Vehicle May Have a Cracked Tire Rim

Wheel rims hold your tires in place with the help of tire beads. That being said, it’s crucial to identify any damage on the rim before it gets worse.

Here are some signs to watch for that can help you identify a cracked or damaged rim faster:

Steering Wheel Vibrations

Cracks in your rims can cause unusual vibrations in the steering wheel while you’re driving. If you notice this symptom while driving over smooth roads, you may need to visit a mechanic ASAP. Vibrations can also be caused by other issues like a warped brake rotor or a faulty suspension. So, make sure you have the problem diagnosed by a trusted professional.

driver feeling steering wheel vibrations
Cracks in your rims can cause unusual vibrations in the steering wheel while you’re driving.

Noticeable Noise

Aside from vibration, a cracked rim may also cause your wheels to produce unusual noises. But remember, squeaking, rattling, and screeching noises may not only point to a bad rim. You’ll have to confirm the issue with a mechanic.

Low Tire Pressure

Your tires will continue to lose tire pressure as you continue to drive your vehicle if the rims are damaged. Once you notice the TPMS (tire pressure monitor system) light on your dash, immediately pull over and inspect your tires.

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Handling Issues

Cracked or bent rims may cause a slew of handling issues. For example, completing turns may feel more difficult behind the wheel. To prevent steering issues, make sure to take care of your rims and have them fixed or replaced once they’re damaged.

Can You Fix a Cracked Rim?

It depends on the extent and location of the damage. If the crack is still small and if it’s located in an area where the structural integrity of the wheels aren’t affected, then you can go ahead and have the crack repaired. The same goes with a rim that’s slightly bent. However, you need to make sure that the repairs are done by a skilled professional.

Meanwhile, large cracks and deformed wheel rims can’t be fixed. It’s recommended to replace your wheel rims right away to avoid accidents on the road. If you’re not sure whether to fix a cracked rim or have it replaced, you can always consult a professional.

How Much Do Wheel Rims Cost?

An aftermarket wheel rim can go anywhere between $100 and $500. Some may cost more depending on the brand and your specific make and model. The material used for the wheel can also affect pricing. For example, an alloy wheel is generally more expensive than the one made of aluminum.

Aside from these factors, you’ll also have to shell out money for labor and taxes. Rates can vary depending on where you’re in.

About The Authors
Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
Reviewed By Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Technical Reviewer at

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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