how to fix a buckled wheel

We all know the experience. The sound of a metallic crunch as you hit a pothole or an unexpected obstacle in the road, and your car is jolted out of alignment causing subtle vibrations through the steering wheel. In most cases, it can be repaired by rotating your wheels back into proper position.

In some cases, however, the wheel has shifted into an unnatural position requiring more drastic measures.

Ideally, this would be accomplished by changing the car’s alignment at a dealer or tire shop. Unfortunately for me, I do not have one of these establishments in my neighborhood (or even within several miles of my home).

The process can still be achieved by ‘eyeing’ the wheel and using a hay baler as a stand.

The following is what I did to hopefully help someone else in my position. It may not be 100% correct, but it got my car back on the road for under $10.

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##how to fix a buckled wheel Tips:

You don’t have to separate the tire from the wheel! Disconnecting and reconnecting the tire is a pain, so put some muscle into straightening it back out first…then separate them.

how to fix a buckled wheel Instructions:

1) Find a level surface to work on. Make sure there’s nothing directly behind the wheel that could get in the way of it turning.

2) Place one hand on the tire (not touching any chrome or other part that’s not black metal) and grab one spoke with your other hand. How many spokes you grab is up to you, but try starting with one for now. If you have a broken spoke, grab the next one in.

3) While holding onto the spoke, quickly and sharply pull up. You should feel it go past a point where it’s just starting to move and then suddenly there’s no more resistance. This is what you’re looking for–the axle slot that holds that particular spokes ends has popped out of its position and given the wheel some room to straighten back out.

4) Hold onto the spokes while you do this to all the others in your hand, taking care not to touch any thing but metal when doing so (do NOT grab an inch-long bit of rubber from the tire). If you don’t have a broken spoke, skip ahead to Step 5.

5) When every single other spoke you’re holding has been pulled up, take a look at the ones you skipped over. How many of them are broken, and how badly? If they all look okay–like they were bent but didn’t actually break in two (which will happen if it’s cold outside and you don’t do this right away)–then skip to Step 6.

6) Try using pliers on the spokes that look like they’re still good. It is best to try straightening them out first, but there’s no way to know until after step 5 whether or not that’ll work. If it does, then proceed with steps 7-9; if not, go ahead and start breaking off all of these so you can get your full refund back from the store.

7) Once the broken spokes are removed, you’re ready to reconnect this tire to your wheel. Put your hand on the tire (again, not touching any chrome or other parts that aren’t black) and grab another spoke with your other hand. Repeat Step 3 above–pulling up quickly and sharply–on all of them until they click back into place in their original axle slots.

8) Grab the tire again with both hands while keeping one hand on a spoke, then pull up strongly. You should feel it go past a point where it’s just starting to move and then suddenly there’s no more resistance again. If not, give another quick tug; if still nothing happens, put everything back together as is, bring the wheel to a bike shop, and have them do it.

9) Reattach the tire completely by pushing each spoke back into its correct position. Take care not to damage any chrome parts, but don’t be afraid to put some muscle into it; their backs will pop off again if you don’t get it all the way in first try.

10) Ride your bike! If nothing happens after having followed all these steps, take it back to the store (if that’s where you bought it). They should give you another one if they’re still open; otherwise, tell them what happened and ask for your money back. The hassle of this process is well worth avoiding putting somebody else at risk with an unsafe bike or having potential liability when somebody gets hurt because of a faulty bike.


Hopefully you’re reading this after your bike is already in one piece. However, if it’s not, then just follow these steps carefully and slowly, one by one. Just about every bike gets buckled wheels at some point in its life, so you are not alone!

Good luck!