Should I buy a car with repaired alloy wheels?

A reader has just found out the Mini he's buying has welded alloy wheels. Should he be concerned about this?...

Mini Clubman JCW

I’ve just agreed to buy a 2013 Mini Clubman JCW from a used car dealer in Bristol. By chance, I've also just been in touch with the previous owner, who said I should be aware that he found out when he bought the car in May 2016 that the inner rims of the nearside front and rear alloy wheels had been welded. 

This isn't information I had been told by the dealer, even though over a couple of conversations I did ask if there was anything I should know about the car.

I haven’t been able to see the welds yet, but I’ve booked the car in for a health check with a Mini dealership once I take delivery of it to give it a once-over. I’ve also asked them to check that the wheels are safe and provide me with a professional report on them.

I don’t feel comfortable that the two wheels have been welded, especially as I don’t have any evidence to say how well they’ve been repaired. Furthermore, I’m soon going to become a father and don’t want to drive my child and partner around in a car with wheels that could have a weakness.

The car is being sold with three months’ warranty; will that cover me if anything does go wrong? 

Coincidentally, the car I’m trading in has the same factory alloy wheels, so as a back-up, do you think I could ask for two wheels from my car to be swapped with the welded ones? 

Before I take delivery of the car, I would appreciate any advice you can give me on where I stand, what I should do and what the dealer should do.

Dean Costanza

What Car? says…

We agree that you should be concerned about buying a car with two welded wheels if you don’t know how well the work has been done. We’d suggest you contact the dealer and ask if there's any paperwork relating to the wheels so you can find out which company carried out the work. 

If it was done by an expert repair company, the wheels should be fine. But if it wasn't, there could be problems with stress cracks occurring on the wheel and the tyres could deflate. 

Although the car is being sold with a warranty, it’s unlikely to cover the cost of replacement wheels or tyres, because they’re usually viewed as ‘wear and tear’ items. Therefore, we’d advise you to get the wheels examined or at least find out how well they were repaired before taking delivery of the car.

Your suggestion of swapping the wheels from your current car is one possible solution if you’re not happy with the standard of work or extent of damage on the welded alloys. 

Furthermore, you have the protection of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which allows you to reject any car in the first 30 days if it’s not of satisfactory quality. So if you encounter problems relating to the wheels in this time, you’ll be entitled to a full refund.

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A hot hatchback needs to excel in several areas if it's to be the crowned the cream of the crop.

First, it must be able to get your pulse racing on a twisty back road; if it can’t get you from corner to corner without the edges of your mouth turning up, it has fallen at the first hurdle. So, handling prowess and power delivery are key here.

Ride quality is also important. A firm ride is inevitable on something so sporty, but the suspension must be able to deal with the worst that British roads can throw at it.

And hot hatches are likely to be used every day of the week, so they also need to possess a practical, comfortable interior and have reasonable running costs.

Below and over the next few pages, we'll reveal our favourites and tell you which models to avoid. And don't forget, if you're interested in buying any of these cars head over to What Car? New Car Buying and see how much we can save you on your next car.

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The potent VW Golf GTI features further up this list, but for a more hardcore experience it's worth considering the Golf R. It's even more potent than the GTI, with increased performance and four-wheel drive. In fact, it's tremendous fun to drive. It has 296bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 5.3sec. It's also reasonably practical to use every day, and its interior is top-notch.

Read our VW Golf R review

9. Audi S3

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Like the regular Audi A3 the S3 is a premium car that oozes quality inside and out. There's a 306bhp petrol engine under the bonnet that makes it one of the quickest cars in this class. The S3 is not the most exciting hot hatch to drive, though, and its price can quickly rise if you start adding options, but it has one of the classiest interiors around.

Read our Audi S3 review

8. Audi RS3

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Audi has been locked in a power battle with Mercedes-AMG in recent years, but this revised RS3, which borrows the 394bhp five-cylinder engine from the Audi TT RS sports car, puts the hot hatch firmly in the top spot for outright acceleration. You’ll need a well-padded wallet to buy and own an RS3, though.

Read our Audi RS3 review

Next: more of our favourite hot hatchbacks >

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