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Summary
  • Curb rash is a minor cosmetic damage to a vehicle’s wheel that comes from getting too close to an abrasive surface, like curbs and potholes.
  • Inexperienced drivers who are unfamiliar with their vehicle’s dimensions and those who miscalculate their parking parameters often fall victim to curb rash incidents.
  • Severe cases of curb rash can cause the wheel’s lip to break off or damage the tire’s sidewall, resulting in a blowout.

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing a grinding or banging noise from your vehicle as you’re parking (or even driving). These noises could indicate a lot of things, including some damage to your vehicle’s body.

A warped bumper cover, a nasty gash on the passenger door, and even chipped paint are some of the things that could happen if you’re not careful enough. You can also expect some sort of cosmetic damage to one of your wheels, which is often referred to as a curb rash.

What Is a Curb Rash?

Curb rash is a minor cosmetic damage to a vehicle’s wheel that results from getting too close to an abrasive surface, like curbs and potholes. It usually looks like scratches, gouges, and chipped areas on a wheel’s surface.

Inexperienced drivers who are unfamiliar with their vehicle’s dimensions and those who miscalculate their parking parameters often fall victim to curb rash incidents.

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Frequently driving on unpaved roads can also increase the risk of getting a curb rash.

Is It Safe to Drive with a Curb Rash?

car wheel with curb rash
Curb rash is a minor cosmetic damage to a vehicle’s wheel that results from getting too close to an abrasive surface, like curbs and potholes.

While curb rash damage is treated as a relatively minor issue, there are times when it can affect the wheel’s structural integrity.

Severe cases of curb rash can cause the wheel’s lip to break off or damage the tire’s sidewall, resulting in a blowout. Hard hits can also throw off a vehicle’s alignment and compromise critical suspension and undercarriage components.

How Long Does It Take to Fix a Curb Rash?

A wheel’s curb rash repair takes anywhere between 5 and 24 hours to accomplish, depending on how meticulous the procedure is.

Curb Rash Repair Cost

Wheel material plays a crucial role in determining how much a curb rash repair will cost. For example, minor damage on a steel wheel can cost around $50 to repair.

Chrome and aluminum wheels, on the other hand, are more expensive to fix. A scratch and scuff job for this material can cost anywhere between $200 and $500.

How to Fix Curb Rash on Rims: Tips for Taking the DIY Route

You can resolve minor curb rash damage from your own garage, provided that you have the right tools and information.

A lot of drivers prefer taking the DIY route when handling minor issues, mainly because it’s cost-effective. However, keep in mind that choosing this route will only help you save money if you manage to do the job properly.

Otherwise, you would’ve spent unnecessary money on repair tools and ended up seeking professional help because you only made the problem worse.

The Essentials

Repairing a minor curb rash requires a few tools, including the following:

  • Rim cleaning solution
  • Sandpaper
  • Rubber mallet
  • Touch-up paint or clear coat
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rim protector
  • Protective gear
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Tip #1: Start Off with a Clean Slate

Start with a clean slate. Before anything else, use a rim cleaning solution to remove dirt, grime, and brake dust.

Tip #2: Take Your Time When Sanding

Don’t rush the sanding process. Start off with coarse grit sandpaper to remove the deep scratches before switching to finer paper to smooth out the minor ones.

While a power sander can be used to smooth out the rim surface, you risk taking out more material than necessary if you’re not careful.

Tip #3: Straighten Out the Rim If Possible

Minor rim damage can be straightened out using a rubber mallet, but keep in mind that it’s not always advisable to do so.

Major rim damage can cause the entire part to crack, so it’s best to replace it with a new one instead.

Tip #4: Paint and Protect

Applying touch-up paint or a clear coat ensures that the repaired rim will have a smooth finish. You might also want to consider installing a rim protector to create a barrier between the wheel and the curb.

Professional Curb Rash Repair: What to Expect

Seeking help from a professional to repair your damaged rim entails a couple of steps that aren’t included in DIY guides.

DIY tasks are usually about working with what you have, which is also one of the reasons why the DIY route is cost-effective. Meanwhile, taking your vehicle to a professional ensures that your rim will restore its factory-fresh look. However, keep in mind that the job comes with a price because of the additional steps and labor rates.

Should you decide to have a trusted mechanic deal with your vehicle’s curb rash, it’s highly likely that your daily driver’s alignment will be inspected. The mechanic will resolve these alignment issues first before proceeding to cosmetic repairs.

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After checking the alignment, the mechanic can now proceed with dunking the wheel into a stripping tank to remove its chemical finish. A power washer is then used to remove the remaining paint.

Using a sandblaster is a common alternative to dipping the wheel into a stripping tank. In most cases, the sandblaster for this type of task uses recycled plastic instead of sandpaper.

When using machinery, a mechanic will usually aim to graze the rim’s surface instead of applying too much pressure that could deform the wheel. A light hand is necessary when fixing the scuffs to ensure a fine and smooth finish.

From there, the wheel will undergo another round of washing before the mechanic proceeds to sand the surface.

Preventing Curb Rash

Preventing curb rash is fairly easy. Drivers should always pay attention to their surroundings, especially when navigating through tight spaces.

Staying away from curbs when parking is also one of the easiest ways to prevent curb rash.

Lastly, treat your vehicle’s parking assistance features like they’re your best friends. Backup cameras and sensors are there for a reason, so be sure to pay attention to these pieces of tech.

Over the years, forward-thinking automakers have introduced hundreds of technological advancements that aim to keep both drivers and vehicles safe.

Tesla, for example, introduced a software update in 2020 that displayed the view from the side cameras on the infotainment screen. It helped prevent curb rash damage and give drivers a better view of the blind spots.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com 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 CarParts.com'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.

File Under : Wheels and Tires , DIY Tagged With :
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