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The risks of reconditioned wheels

What goes around may come back to haunt you
Friday, August 30, 2013 - 10:51
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Along with many other potentially devastating liabilities faced with in the collision repair industry, as a repairer and now industry advisor/consultant/coach, reconditioned wheels has been one of my greatest concerns in this regard for some time. While called for, and employed across the country on a daily basis, these reclaimed and repaired wheels may often pose serious and significant safety concerns.

My concerns began back in the mid 90’s when I replaced a repaired wheel obtained from a supplier listed within the repair estimate prepared and provided by my customer’s insurer. Several weeks after delivery, the customer came back with a concern over his tire going flat. He’d taken it to his tire store to have the slow leak repaired only to find that his tire was fine and that it was the wheel itself which was leaking air. The leak wasn’t around the bead but through the rim where a repair had been performed and where a remaining crack or fissure remained. I realized then that once damaged and repaired wheels are susceptible to having remaining flaws and defects and the distinct liabilities they posed for me and other repairers.

While the opportunity to recondition once damaged wheels surely proves to reduce repair costs for insurers and consumers, the considerable risks of failure and potential for serious property damage, injury and even death, and the associated liabilities, are just as real and far more significant for repairers.

Perhaps no entity understands this better than the Original Equipment Manufacturers such as BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, GM, , Honda, Nissan, Toyota and others who have released written statements making their positions known that, other than minor cosmetic refinishing, the repair of damaged rims in not recommended. Obviously this is to avoid associated liabilities and to safeguard the integrity of their product and name-brand reputation.

The concerns with the use of reconditioned wheels are numerous but none more tangible than when their use is in direct conflict to the vehicle’s original manufacturer’s recommendations, and as such, contrary to the Collision Repair Industry’s Established Standards of Proper Repair, which was ratified and re-established in 2012. As such, the question begs to be asked: If that is
the “Standard of Proper Repair” why than do insurers continue to call for reconditioned wheels? Perhaps even more so, if it is not in keeping with Collision Repair Industry’s Standards of Proper Repair …why then do repairers continue to use them in the repair of their customer’s vehicles?

Simply stated; if the vehicle’s original manufacturer does not approve the use of repaired, reconditioned, refurbished or restored wheels, then a collision repairer should not use them, and if they elect to do so, they may incur significant liabilities in the event of their failure. Liabilities that the insurer will not bear since they would be the first to tell you and the courts, that they only provide payment for proper and thorough repairs; they do not perform or recommend repair methodology; that is left up to the repair professionals.

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