If you own a car, you know that wheels are as important as the tires mounted on them. They play a significant role in the way your car behaves on the road – when it comes to speed, braking, fuel economy, overall vehicle lifespan, as well as the look of your car. But, how to choose the right type for your precious vehicle among so many out there? Worry not, we are here to shed some light on the matter and help you out in the process.
The first thing to consider when it comes to car wheels is the material they are made of. Usually, car wheels are made of chrome, aluminum, or alloy – a mixture of aluminum and magnesium.
Even though the name suggests so, chrome wheels aren’t made entirely out of it – you’ll most likely find steel or aluminum coated in chrome. The reason behind this practice is the fact that wheels made entirely of chrome cost too much, making them sit on shelves because drivers cannot afford them or aren’t willing to pay the price, thus seeking cheaper alternatives. Hence the many alternatives. And, rightly so since chrome wheels are quite the popular choice among car enthusiasts since they are widely considered the most beautiful type of car wheels. If you want to make your car more aesthetically pleasing than it already is, one of the cheapest options is to just replace its wheels with chrome ones. Their shiny surface makes them eye-catchy, but more than that, they are also less prone to rusting than other types of wheels. In that sense, their maintenance is made easier for the car owner, despite requiring a lot of attention to remove dirt and debris. However, once you’ve had that taken care of, you only need to polish them thoroughly to give them back their natural shine and your car will take on its new and improved look.
Aside from chrome wheels, there are also those made out of aluminum – cast or forged. Cast aluminum wheels are made by pouring molten aluminum into a one-piece mould, whereas forged aluminum ones are manufactured by applying extremely high force to the base wheel material in a contained dye. In either case, they allow for less cracking, while forged aluminum wheels are also able to withstand extreme pressure. Moreover, aluminum wheels are lighter than those made of chrome at the same time offering the driver better vehicle handling and excellent tire uniformity.
Finally, the most sought car wheels according to the material are alloy wheels – made of aluminum, magnesium, or a mixture of both. It’s not that difficult to guess why. A mix of different materials makes for a more durable product, but also a lighter one – a great benefit in vehicles that need to have reduced weight to perform better. This is precisely why they were first used on modified racing vehicles in the 1920s – almost 100 years ago! Furthermore, they make vehicle handling more responsive and braking easier, important not only in racing cars but also in everyday driving.
Another major thing to consider when buying car wheels is their size. A purchase of a new car includes wheels specific – or at the very least, perfect – for that make and model. However, if you are looking to REPLACE wheels on your car, you have to make sure that the new wheels are close in diameter to the original wheels – in other words, your new wheel and tire need to be as close in diameter as your old wheel and tire.
Following this particular rule will benefit you in at least 2 ways:
You won’t have to spend more money to make additional modifications to your car and/or wheels to make them fit
You won’t risk your safety since you will have control over your vehicle on the road.
Nevertheless, the common practice among drivers is to buy bigger wheels than they originally had on their vehicles.
Why do you ask?
On the one hand, bigger wheels make for a more beautiful car since they visually fill the gap in the car chassis around the wheel and tire, but you have to be pretty sure about which ones are best suited for your vehicle. Therefore, before you go on a spending spree, browse cars like yours or take to Photoshopping pictures of the wheels you like on your car.
Furthermore, cars with bigger and wider wheels are more stable because they are stiffer and have more contact with the road. By the same token, they decrease the braking distance even on wet roads. They offer better overall handling of the vehicle and improve driver confidence and security.
On the other hand, if you go for bigger wheels and tires than the manufacturer-issued ones, you might get disappointed with your acceleration times. If bigger, the new wheels and tires are heavier than the old ones, which means you’ll have to add some horsepower to your car as well to compensate for the poorer results. This will also reflect on your fuel consumption, i.e. your car will need more fuel to run than you’re used to. Finally, you will be less comfortable while driving if your new wheels and tires are bigger, harder, and have more contact with the road.
Rim and wheel comparison guide
Here is a pro and con list of different rims on a car:
- Steel is a cheap option for a car wheel
- It is easily repaired if bent or buckled
- It is fuel-efficient thanks to its lightweight design
- It has a basic design. Nothing fancy or luxurious here
- It is best for smaller vehicles but will add more weight to a larger vehicle, which can lead to more fuel use and issues such as premature suspension failure
- There is a large variety of designs available
- It has a lighter frame which helps with fuel efficiency and fast acceleration
- It puts less strain on suspension components
- Commonly used in OEM parts (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
- It is a bit more expensive than steel
- Alloy wheels do not look aesthetically pleasing when they become damaged
- The wheel tends to crack with high impact and may need replacing in these cases
- Chrome has the best appearance. It reflects elegance and class
- It retains its shine with good maintenance
- It has a high value and can help with the total resale value of your car
- Chrome can be very expensive if it is imported from the manufacturer
- It is not easily available due to its high value – this is the reason it is imported which can lead to delays and costs
- Chrome tends to be heavy which can impact the fuel efficiency of your vehicle
- It can sometimes also a strain on suspension
Which type of car wheels or rims should I choose?
Choosing a car wheel will depend on the type of car you have, your budget, and your preference. Knowing the different wheel types will help you to choose but sometimes it is best to consult a professional who can help you choose which is best for your car.
The professional team of mechanics at CRS Automotive Hamilton can help you to choose between the different types of car wheels
In case you’re not sure which way to go when it comes to replacing the wheels on your car, we are here to lend you a helping hand.
Come to our repair shop in Hamilton today or contact us for more info on car wheel types!