At $441 each, the aluminum alloy wheels on our long-term BMW M3 cost more than the first cars of a couple of gray-beard staffers around here. Worse, when combined with a thin sidewall of a 40-series tire, a Michigan pothole can prove fatal to these zooty wheels. We know- in seven months, potholes bent 5 of our M3 rims.
In the past, we'd be stuck for the price of new wheels. Now comes the WHEEL COLLISION CENTER of Bath, Pennsylvania, a four year old company that says it can repair bent, cracked, gouged, or broken aluminum wheels. Since his patents were pending at this time, company president Daryl Robbins wouldn't pass out the recipe for his process. But basically, Robbins said controlled heat is used to soften the wheel, and special machines then reshape it. The last step is to completely refinish the wheel.
We sent one of our wounded wheels, crunched at the outer top edge of the rim, to the Wheel Collision Center. The repaired wheel we received back looked as good as new. In addition, extensive testing at Lehigh University demonstrated that the strength and shape of a wheel repaired by Robbins' company equaled the original's.
Repair costs vary, though $100 to $150 perwheel appears to be in the ballpark. Ours set us back $138.25. The phone number is 1-800-292-RIMS(7467)."
- Larry Webster
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