Introduction: Repair Broken Luggage Wheels With Duct Tape

Picture of Repair Broken Luggage Wheels With Duct Tape

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The wheel on my favorite carry-on bag had a chunk come off of it one one trip and it wasn't too many trips later that the plastic part of the wheel came off completely, leaving behind the little metal core that housed the bearings. This left me scraping through the terminal and carrying the bag through anyone's house as to not leave a trail of scrape marks behind me. Other than the wheel the bag was in fine shape so I hated to throw the thing away. Here's what I did to repair it. You can see this repair and more than 300 others at my website at

Step 1: Bum Wheel

Picture of Bum Wheel

Here's what I eventually was left with on my carry-on bag--a bum wheel. It changed the meaning of carry on to "always carry" because the thing sat crooked and was obnoxiously noisy too. Now, if you only have a chunk out of your wheel like I did originally you may need to go ahead and put the thing out of it's misery and just pry off the rest of the wheel so you are left with a round base. I don't think you can do anything with the lumpy wheel unless you want to try to build it up with something but that's for another instructable.

Step 2: Wrap the Metal Core With Strips of Duct Tape

Picture of Wrap the Metal Core With Strips of Duct Tape

If your wheel is missing like mine, and what you have is uniform shaped:
Start a tear in the duct tape so that the strip is just the right width to cover the wheel. You can tear off about two revolutions of the duct tape and then it begins to get too narrow. For me I was able to get three strips from one width of duct tape. Wrap up the wheel until it is the same diameter as the other wheel.

If your wheel is lopsided:
In the case of a lopsided wheel you'll need to either break off the remaining wheel or return the wheel to round shape (which is a whole other deal) if you're going to repair it the way I did.

Step 3: Bevel Edges If Necessary

Picture of Bevel Edges If Necessary

My final wheel was a bit square and it rubbed on the frame of the bag so I beveled off the edges with a carpet knife.  Be careful not to cut yourself.

Step 4: Add a Final Layer of Electrical Tape for Looks

Picture of Add a Final Layer of Electrical Tape for Looks

I added a layer of electrical tape to cover up the beveled edge of the duct tape so it wouldn't be so sticky as it rolled along and to make it black, like the other wheel.  I'd apply the tape in the direction so the natural direction the wheel rolls will want to help the tape stay on versus wanting to lift it up.

Step 5: Ready to Roll, Again

Picture of Ready to Roll, Again

Now you've breathed life into your old bag. If you like this instructable please visit my website at for more fun repairs :)


gollihughj (author)2013-10-27

Awesome! I love your sense of continuing to use something, not just throwing it away because it's "easier" just to buy a new bag. I feel that our society as a whole has become to used to the idea of "disposable". Great fix, and great Ible.

Thanks for the feedback. I see stuff like this as a fun opportunity to come up with a solution, write about it, and interact with people on all the other ideas I could have used to solve it!

BiankaC (author)2015-09-09

Thanks so much I was thinking of what to do with mine. Not long after I brought it burned out on me LOL

johnfixesstuff (author)BiankaC2015-09-09

You are welcome. Mine is still holding up nicely!

getoffamycloud (author)2013-10-27

How well does this hold up???

Well, I'm happy to report that we took the bag on it's first trip and it worked great. All the way from Chicago to Phoenix and back.

I have yet to find out but I will update the post when I find out. Duct tape likes to dry out so this isn't a permanent solution for sure.

Arghus (author)2013-10-31

damn, Macgyver would be proud son, i would have removed the rivets and put rollerblades or skate or similar wheels and fixed them with nut and bolt

ElectroFrank (author)2013-10-27

May I suggest that you always leave the bag with its wheels _off_ the ground, as I think the wheel will deform progressively if left with weight on it ?

That's a good idea and, in fact, I store this bag on a hook in a closet under our stairs so the wheel will be resting in the meantime.

lizardknits (author)2013-10-27

A chunk broke out of one of my bags wheels, and I filled in the depression with Sugru.
It's been a year and the bag is still rolling like new.

I ordered my first batch of Sugru today, it will be added to my arsenal from this point forward :)

hammer9876 (author)2013-10-28

Mine has a huge chunk out of it so it goes 'clackety clackety clackety' across any hard surface. The rest of it, like yours, is in too good a shape to throw away. I would like to see an update on how this worked out for you after your next trip.

I will definitely keep everyone posted on how the wheel handles on the first trip. I don't know when that will be though. I walk 5 blocks to work, maybe I'll have to load it up and drag it there just for the love of science :) That wouldn't be the same experience as the mostly slick smooth floors of an airport though.

phillipnolan (author)2013-10-28

very clever, but a lot of work for a temporary fix -- how about a more permanent fix like wheels from here: or here:, or here: you should be able to find a size that matches.

jorricks (author)2013-10-27

Cannot argue with success!!

johnfixesstuff (author)jorricks2013-10-28

Well, I'm not going to claim success yet, it hasn't even gone on a trip, but it will get me there without having to carry the crippled thing, and I'll update the results when I get them :)

mimiywan (author)2013-10-28

I have the same problem and the suitcase was expensive. We had many many trips but not buying a new one and repairing our existing is just what I need. Thanks for the tip!

johnfixesstuff (author)mimiywan2013-10-28

I had one person offer advice of trying self-amalgamating tape (plumber's tap) as the final layer, since it fuses to itself. The electrical tape definitely isn't going to last long :) I'd like to try that and will probably place an order for some:

Post some pictures of your repair in the comments if you do! Thanks.

johnfixesstuff (author)2013-10-28

Nice. I wish I had some of that on hand and may need to place an order. If I do and put it on the outside of the wheel I'll post the update. The electrical tape isn't going to last long for sure. Thanks!

winged simian (author)2013-10-27

Very cool! Thanks!

anyheck (author)2013-10-27

Looks solid. You might also as the last layer try "Self amalgamating" tape if the electrical tape wears down. Sometimes it's sold as "rescue tape" in the plumbing section. I guess it's similar in some ways to the popular Sugru, as it is silicone, and once wrapped so that it is in self contact it chemically welds itself to itself, and only itself. It has no adhesive.

pclarke2 (author)2013-10-27

Great idea will remember this for the next time I have it happen to me... Which won't be that far away.

pogonoforysci (author)2013-10-27

You could just drill out the rivet and replace the suitcase wheel with a roller blade one. They come in various sizes.

Yes, I surely could do that, I just didn't have any laying around. I actually eyed another one of my bags, thinking I might steal a wheel from it but they were different sizes. This was just one solution that was possible with the material I had on hand, and almost everyone has this material on hand!

bremus (author)pogonoforysci2013-10-27

Good advice.

evanjva1 (author)2013-10-27

I had a similar problem with one missing wheel on a tandem wheel roller bag. Luckily my wheels are mounted on an axle rod that passes across the bag through the wheel housings and is capped on each end with an Acorn cap.

I went to a big box store and got phenolic (skateboard wheels are too big on my bag) casters the same diameter as the wheels. I cut off their axles to get to the wheels. I then used my drill press and a jig to precisely clamp them so I could enlarge the hole a bit larger than the axle rod.

Then I threaded the axle rod back through the housing, wheel, housing, wheel, housing, etc. all the way across the bag until I had four new wheels installed.

I originally just replaced the bad wheels but after one trip I thought better of it and replaced all four wheels on both of our bags. A plus was that these wheels are quieter and don't squeal on the axle rod like the old ones did when they got too much weight on them.

peinkc (author)2013-10-27

On a trip to visit my son, I discovered one of the wheels on the luggage had worn down to where there was ¼” difference between the two wheels. Arriving at my son’s place, I tapped the spindle out from the worn wheel and wheel in hand headed to his workshop/shed in search of a fix. Luckily. I found the perfect fix in the form of an old radiator hose. I cut a section of the hose the same width as the wheel and with a generous spread of epoxy slipped the hose over the wheel. A couple of days later I reattached the wheel to the luggage and I was good to roll.
Three trips latter it is still rolling.

Schmidty16 (author)2013-10-26

you mean electrical tape but duck tape works too

Check out the whole instructable please--I repaired it with duct tape, with one layer of electrical tape on the outside for looks. The electrical tape is optional for sure though. I could have used electrical tape for the whole thing but duct tape is much cheaper so that is what I went with.

securious (author)2013-10-26

ha! nice .. and you have a secret supply of duct tape if you're in a pinch while on the road!

johnfixesstuff (author)securious2013-10-26

LOL!! Too true! I thought about using the tape for the wheel but it hadn't occurred to me "yet" to use the wheel for tape :) Hopefully I don't need to!

jessyratfink (author)2013-10-26

That's fantastic! What a great idea. :D

Well thank you. It probably will only last a couple years as duct tape likes to dry out but it beats replacing the whole bag!

About This Instructable




Bio: I love to fix things and write about the repairs so others can do it too. Check out my website, for hundreds of ... More »
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