Luggage wheels are among the common parts that get damaged frequently. People either choose to hire professional to fix them or they repair it themselves as a DIY project.
Each suitcase wheel issue requires a different solution, and what would be best for your suitcase depends on it. Sometimes, wheels need to be repaired, while some require complete replacement.
In the guide below on ”how to fix suitcase wheels”, I have explained the whole process, from identifying wheel problems, their solutions and a small tip to protect the wheels.
How To Fix Suitcase Wheels
Troubleshoot Baggage Wheels Problem
Before doing anything, you must know the problem with your luggage wheels. Analyze problems to know whether your baggage wheels require partial repair or full replacement.
After Inspection, one must know the exact situation of their luggage wheels and what to do next based on their specific situation. It can save you from buying extra unnecessary stuff every time and will enhance the luggage life for the coming years.
Below are common luggage problems along with their solutions. Just check them in this exact order to fix your baggage wheels quickly.
Wheels Jamming Or Squeaking
Baggage wheels can get jammed because of obstruction due to the accumulation of debris or hairs, friction, misalignment, or damage to the wheel or housing.
Friction: Suitcase wheels jammed due to a lack of lubrication (friction) can be fixed easily by spraying chemical agents like WD-40 spray. Just insert its pipe/nozzle and spray in a corner or between moveable joints to make it smoother.
Obstruction: Jam due to the particles/hair that are stuck inside of wheel. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove debris from the wheels and around the housing. Vacuum blowing is also an effective method for deeper cleaning inside of wheels and corners.
Worn-Out: Wheels can also get jammed as they expand in size due to the elastic nature of plastic material and get slightly worn out with cuffs and small raptures. You can use sandpaper to shave a bit off (which is hard) its piece and further smooth it up.
Suitcase Wheels Wobbling
If suitcase wheels feel wobbly while walking, probably because of loose screws. Hold the wheel and adjust its position correctly to ensure proper alignment. Re-screw it to make it tight and sturdy.
If you feel that the screw is not tight and the hole diameter is slightly bigger than the original screw’s diameter and does not fit perfectly. Take a thread or tap, and wrap it around the screw bolt then insert it in wheel axle with the screwdriver to make it sturdy.
Damaged Wheels Or Housing
Damaged suitcase wheels are recommended to be replaced, and there is no better solution than this. They can be unreliable and may cause problems while on your journey.
Before diving into the wheel replacement guide, inspect one more time to know that the crack or damage is not exceeded toward the body of the luggage.
If that is the case, you should opt for an expert who can repair this, contact your luggage company, or even feel the need to buy a new suitcase.
If suitcase wheels are worn out, or housing part is damaged, both of them can be fixed. To initiate this you must know the difference between types of wheels: rivet and spinner wheels.
How To Replace Luggage Wheels
Things To Consider Before Replacing Wheels
Type Of Luggage Wheels
There are two main types of luggage wheels, each with a different design and functionality. Below is just an overview of both wheel types.
Spinner wheels that are rotatable 360 degrees, easy to maneuver, convenient in design, and primarily used in hard-shell suitcases. They seem apart from housing attached with the fragile neck area.
Rivet wheels are embedded in housing, and they are sturdy. These wheels are not flexible and move back and forth. Mostly, they are built-in some softshell suitcases or in under seaters.
Matching Design And Shape
Find a wheel design that will fit your luggage and look perfect. For this, you should browse the internet and visit some retail sites of luggage brands where you can find them easily, or on Amazon and eBay.
Just ensure you have proper measurements and size to order it online swiftly.
Tools For Wheels Replacement
To change the wheels of a suitcase, you will need hardware tools, including;
- Screwdriver: which you’ll use to remove any screws holding the old wheel in place.
- Replacement Wheels: Make sure they are matching to old ones.
- Wrench: It is handy for loosening and tightening nuts or bolts securing the wheel assembly.
- Pliers: It can help grip and manipulate small components like screws or nuts, making them easier to work with.
- Hex screws: (L-shaped Screw opener) Don’t forget an Allen wrench or hex key of the appropriate size.
- Lubricants: They help loosen any rusty or stiff parts before removal.
- PPE: Personal Protective Equipment, such as gloves and goggles, to protect yourself from sharp edges and flying debris.
How to Replace Screwed Wheels
Screwed/spinner suitcase wheels are more accessible to replace than riveted ones because they don’t require cutting or drilling. It means they are relatively easy to replace and need just one tool: a screwdriver.
Spinner Wheels are embedded with housing, unlike rivets, where you only need to change wheels. The only difference is that you need to buy more wheels.
Take a screwdriver, open the suitcase, and unzip the middle lower cover to expose the wheels. Unscrew all housing screws, and it will take a little bit of effort.
One thing to keep in mind while ordering new spinner wheels. They must align with screw holes in the luggage body. Try to buy the same-looking wheels that are available and easier to get.
Attach a new wheel from the outside while focusing on the inside to align wheel’s holes. Take new screws that come along and screw them partially one by one to limit unnecessary movement.
Once all screws are partially inserted, again screw them one by one tightly. Repeat the same process for all wheels and then test it to know how they are working.
How To Replace Riveted Wheels
Riveted suitcase wheels are more challenging to replace than screwed ones because they require more effort and may cause damage to the frame/body of the suitcase.
Firstly, I recommend you take your suitcase to an expert who will do this neatly. If not, then follow this;
Take your suitcase, open its main compartment, and then open the cover zipper to reach the wheels from inside. Once they are visible, turn your luggage upside down onto a flat and rough surface to avoid any movement.
Use a hacksaw on both sides of the wheel inside the narrow space of the housing and wheel. The objective here is to cut the bolt passing through the wheel axle. Once it starts to lose a bit, use a needle nose plier from inside to exclude wheel screws.
Clean all debris around the wheel housing and then push a new wheel, even if it requires a bit of force, once the wheel is in the right place.
From inside the suitcase, insert screws through the axle of the new wheel by using a plier and screwdriver to adjust the alignment. Use hex screw to stop the bolt rotation on one side and then tight it up.
This part could be tricky, and hard to screw both ends in a narrow space tightly. Again, it depends on the shape of the wheel housing; the narrower the design is, the harder it would be to replace the wheel.
There is another way where you can use a drill machine to detach the wheel housing from body, replace wheels, and re attach it with drill. This process is also risker as it could damage the suitcase body.
After either of this, repeat the same process for the other wheels, and at the end, make sure both wheels are functioning well or make adjustments in case of required improvement.
Tips for Preventing Wheel Damage
Replacing your suitcase wheels can be time-consuming and costly, so it is better to prevent them from getting damaged in the first place. There are a lot of unnecessary and unpractical wheel care advises online.
To protect your suitcase wheel, buy a silicone suitcase wheel cover that will protect these wheels from rough surfaces, dirt, dust, and more.
These are easier to install on spinner wheels while challenging on rivet wheels as they are embedded. One thing you can do for it, before installing new rivet wheels, first install these silicon covers on them; make sure they are not jamming wheels.
The Bottom Line
As a DIY project, fixing a suitcase wheel may be fun, but you always need to take precautions before using any hardware tool.
In the above guide, I discussed analyzing the suitcase wheel problem and provided a detailed guide for each use case scenario. I also gave you a simple trick to protect your suitcase wheels.