Could 3 Bent Rims be Caused by Tire Change?

I brought my VW Jetta in to get 4 new tires two weeks ago. A couple of days after the tires were replaced my husband noted that one of my hubcaps had begun detaching. He popped it back in. The day before yesterday I noticed a different hubcap had come halfway detached. After closer inspection, I saw that three hubcaps were at some level detached.

I brought my car back to the dealer and explained what happened. The maintenance guy pulled one hubcap off and said my rim was bent and there was nothing he could do. I assured him that I had never had such a problem in the 4 years I had owned the car. He told me I had probably bent it by hitting a curb or something and pointed to an old scratch on my car. After reminding him that it was three bent rims, not one, he suggested I speak with a manager.

The manager was out to lunch and hasn’t yet returned my call from yesterday.

My question is this, could a dealer (presumably the folks that know my car best) have bent the rims when changing the tires? Could I have coincidently bent all three without knowing it?

The maintenance guy said as long as the tires weren’t losing pressure, it wasn’t a big deal, but I think it could be dangerous to have hubcaps flying off all over the place… not to mention it’ll really irk me to look at my car with missing hubcaps when they were just fine before the tire change.

I appreciate your opinion on this. Thanks.

Yes, the machine that is used to change th tires can bend the rim if it isn’t used properly. It is most likely to bend the rim when unseating the bead on the inside of the rim.

But, what was the maintenance guy looking at when made this diagnosis? Was he looking at the bead area of the rim? Who changed the tires? Do you have a vibration that you feel in the steering wheel?

It is possible that the hub caps just weren’t installed correctly in the first place.

Sure maybe they used this method:

He judged the bent rim by taking the hubcap off and looking at the visible lip where the metal of the wheel butts up against the tire. (Is that the bead?) Forgive me, I can fit everything I know about cars on the head of a pin. I haven’t noticed any vibration in the steering wheel.

I just spoke with the maintenance kid. (Manager out to lunch again) He said it was only the one rim that was bent, the other two just didn’t have the hubcaps clipped in. I suppose then, that it is possible the one rim was bent before and the hubcaps just simply were not installed well.

Either way, I’ll find out over the next few days. Either they will begin to detach or they won’t.

Actually Raj, aside from the flames, that method looks pretty gentle.

The lip is part of the bead. Is the lip bent uniformly all the way around or just in a small area? If just a section of the tire, it could be caused if the tire mounter was careless when “breaking the bead” on the outer part of the tire.

Yes, that’s the bead area of the tire, but technically that part of the wheel is called the flange. It’s difficult to bend a flange mounting a tire, but it’s easy to bend a flange if one runs over an object - and I’ll bet that’s what happened.

Give a MeatBall a tire machine and they can bend ANY rim…Unfortunately, Meatballs and tire machines can frequently be found in close proximity…

“It’s difficult to bend a flange mounting a tire,”

True, but it is easy to bend a rim when UN mounting the old tire.

Typically when you “Break the Bead” of a tire using a tire machine you use an air actuated ram to push the bead off the rim…Now if you were a total Meat Head and didn’t line the tire machines arm/ram correctly…then sure it could fold that lip over rather easily…but this would be a severe bonehead move and in my opinion it would be hard to do…I couldn’t imagine paying that little attention while doing such an operation…but yes it would be possible with that machine and a thin lipped steel rim. Did this happen? Dunno… Like Caddy said “Meatballs and tire machines”…

AND…this would NOT technically be a BENT RIM…it would be a rim with a distorted lip…to bent the rim you need to alter its circular shape…this would just be a defect in the rim able to be corrected with a sledge hammer. SO if it did happen…whats the big deal…bend it back… I mean its easily correctable and they should be looking to correct it…not to point out that you need to buy something…