Are your customers safe from expensive wheels damage?
While curbs and debris on the road have never been considered a tire’s friend, many of today’s tires resist accidental damage by featuring thicker rubber molded at key locations on their sidewalls. This helps reduce damage to the tires and wheels when drivers accidentally rub them against curbs while parking or turning sharply out of a driveway.
However, many standard tires don’t feature rim protectors of any kind because they are frequently mounted on steel wheels. While this may initially appear to be an oversight, it is done to accommodate the reality that most steel wheels use hubcaps to provide a more desirable appearance. The absence of a rim protector allows more flexibility in hubcap styling and how hubcaps are designed and attached to the wheel.
The tires that feature tire/rim protectors use several different designs. Many of these tires feature a raised rib adjacent to the bead area on their lower sidewalls or have a deeply recessed bead area to partially envelop the wheel flange. Others feature raised ribs at the tire’s maximum section width (the distance between a tire’s sidewalls measured at the widest part of the tire).
Tires featuring the raised rib adjacent to the bead or the deeply recessed bead area are designed to help protect low-profile tires and expensive alloy wheels from accidental curb damage. While tires featuring the raised rib or molded recess design will often thwart the use of wheel covers, this typically isn’t a problem since these tires are customarily used on vehicles equipped with alloy wheels.
In light truck off-road applications, the rim protectors will also help shield the tire and wheel bead area from debris, as well as resist damage inflicted by rocks, tree stumps, and other off-road obstacles.
Custom rim protectors
There are also custom plastic rim protectors that can be installed on rims to protect them from curb rash. For example, the AlloyGator product, which has been available in Canada for two years now, is made of super tough nylon, which is flexible and won’t damage the alloy wheels during fitting. The AlloyGator is locked to the wheel over 360° using a highly robust patented technology.
“We have no problem driving this product into a curb while parking to demonstrate to customers how robust this product is,” explains Pete Sargent, Project Development Manager for AlloyGator. “The biggest thing about this product is it does what it says it does. It’s a rim protection product first and foremost.
“We have dealers putting them on their courtesy cars and fleet cars. They find it’s better than saying, ‘Here is your car back, and by the way, you owe me $250 to repair the rim on the loaner car.’ If you do that, the odds of getting a good CSI score are pretty slim,” adds Sargent.
“We recommend you put it on your courtesy cars, point it out to the client, and if they hit a curb and there is slight damage to the AlloyGator rim protector, you can show them how it minimized the damage to the rim and recommend they install a set on their car.”