By MARC LUTZ
Business Journal Editor
MODESTO — That leaky tire might not be due to a nail. In fact, when a tire chronically loses air, it’s more than likely due to damaged rims.
Damaged or cracked rims can lead to other issues such as blowouts — or worse — accidents. That’s where Charlie McReynolds, owner of Charlie’s Rim Repair, comes in.
McReynolds, who has been in the business for more than 37 years, is so well regarded, he receives work from dealerships and other shops for miles around.
“I’ve got a rim here right now that the guy drove from Oakland to bring it to me,” McReynolds said. “They’re driving from all over the place; Hayward, Richmond, Brentwood … they’re just coming here to get their rims done. I take it as a compliment.”
McReynolds holds two Master Certifications and has won awards for his quality of work, and the bottom line is safety. If a rim is unsafe to fix or cannot be fixed to quality standards, McReynolds won’t take the job. He estimates he can fix 90 percent of the rims that come to his shop.
The National Transportation and Safety Board routinely compiles information on vehicle accidents as they pertain to tire failure. Even though there are varying causes, tire inflation plays a major role.
In a 2015 report, the NTSB found that 50 percent of drivers use the wrong tire inflation pressure, 69 percent have an underinflated tire, 63 percent don’t rotate their tires and 12 percent have at least one bald tire.
When rims get worn, damaged or cracked, the seal from the lip of the rim and the tire can be penetrated, causing the tire to lose air. That, in turn, can cause more wear on the treads, and, eventually, can lead to tire failure and loss of control in the vehicle.
McReynolds recommends that vehicles with more than 80,000 miles on them be checked for rim wear or damage. Potholes, speed bumps and general road conditions can be responsible for a myriad of rim ailments.
Depending on the make of vehicle, new rims can cost thousands. For example, one particular model of Mercedes-Benz is equipped with rims that cost $2,500 each.
McReynolds can make needed repairs for $200 per rim.
Recently, a woman whose husband had purchased a new Audi, suffered damage to the vehicle’s rims after a mishap. The cost to replace the rims would have been pricey, but McReynolds was able to make the repairs for a fraction of the cost of the new rims.
“I save marriages,” McReynolds laughed.
Repairing a rim can mean anything from straightening the rim to tig welding it if it’s cracked. Cracks can occur from hitting a pothole a little too hard. Cracks are the most common reason people bring their rims to Charlie’s Rim Repair.
“I specialize in crack repair. A lot of guys won’t warranty the rim. I warranty it. I’ve been welding for 30 years,” McReynolds said. “You hit a pothole, and it pushes the rim past its maximum travel and it cracks.”
By the end of January, McReynolds installed a new precision laser cutting lathe that restores a rim to a like-new state. That will allow the tire to seal perfectly to the lip of the rim, which leads to air loss as well.
One type if rim that is commonly susceptible to corrosion is the chrome variety. Part of McReynolds’ expertise comes from understanding varying alloys.
“If you come here, you have a Master Level Technician working on your rim, you don’t have somebody who is learning on the job,” McReynolds said. “I’ve got every certification you can get. People like the fact that they’re putting their rim in the hands of somebody that actually has a lot of training.”