The Car Owner’s Guide to Car Wheels

March 14th, 2018 by

The vast selection of car wheels available ranges from low-grade knock-offs to high-quality head-turners. Car wheels may seem like a simple and mindless component of any car, but the truth is wheel production technologies are improving all the time, with companies investing in the research and development of sturdy, lightweight design for maximum functionality. Whether it is Jaguar building the effortlessly cool steel wheels for their legendary E-type, or Koenigsegg with their state of the art carbon fiber structures, wheels are extremely important to aesthetics as well as vehicle function. Keeping this in mind, what follows is a quick guide to the types of wheels available on the marketplace.

Steel Wheels

This option is most common, about as classic and simple as it gets. At the manufacturer, powerful hydraulic equipment presses steel blocks, or billets, into the desired shape. Due to lower production cost, steel wheels come standard on most any inexpensive vehicle, such as the Volkswagen Atlas available at dealerships in Libertyville. These steel wheels particularly dominated the market before alloy rims became cheaper to produce. An alloy of iron and carbon, steel is harder than most other metal materials, increasing the wheel’s weight-bearing properties.

The method of production unfortunately leaves very little room for creativity in the design process. Specific sections of a wheel are pressed out and then connected to form the full wheel structure. As such, the only way to implement different designs is to punch holes in the outside face of the wheel, for increased air flow or just a cool design.

Alloy Wheels

Before the recent advancements in alloy wheel production, this type of wheel was reserved for more expensive car models. Fortunately, as production costs decrease these wheels are becoming available on most models. The material is based on a combination of aluminum or magnesium with nickel, providing the same strength as steel wheels with much less weight. This results in greater fuel efficiency, acceleration, and higher attainable speeds.

Unsprung mass is a term for the weight of car components that are not suspended with shocks. Another advantage of alloy wheels is a lower unsprung mass that allows for much greater control, as it enables the suspension to respond to the road surface more accurately. Moreover, by reducing the nickel content of an alloy, the wheel becomes very malleable, enabling all sorts of aerodynamic and fashionable designs.

Forged Wheels

The most robust wheels available on the market are certainly those made from forged aluminum. Subjecting the material immense pressure, metal is crushed into an extremely dense structure, one that is extremely light and much stronger than casted alternatives.

Replica OEM Wheels

Any driver buying new wheels should certainly avoid any affordable replicas of racing wheels. Often times these wheels are made of brittle materials that cannot hold up under pressure, producing a dangerous situation. These wheels can collapse at high speeds, leading to loss of control and potential car accidents.

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