Steve goes to a car lot in Hamilton to browse and find himself a new car. He walks among all the vehicles on display, considering their horsepower, fuel economy, size and whatnot. But one car catches his attention not because it ticks all the boxes on his list of what he is looking for in a car but because it has the most beautiful wheel rims he has ever seen. Long, clean lines, sturdy constitution, black coat of paint… And it complements the car’s overall appearance – he is simply smitten! But what is the deal with wheel rims? What are rims, and why are they so important in a car? Stick with us to find out!
You may not think automobile wheel rims are that important for driving a car in Hamilton – some people tend to focus on them because of their aesthetic appeal – but they certainly play a vital role in the whole driving experience. Why? They allow your car to roll so you wouldn’t get too far without them. Without undamaged and quality wheel rims on a carmounted, your car can only be stationary – which is questionable – and you certainly haven’t bought a car to just sit in your garage or driveway in Hamilton. So, let’s examine wheel rims, their varieties and why they matter.
Note: If you need consultation regarding buying new car rims in Hamilton, visit our auto service shop. Our licensed and experienced mechanics can help.
Rims and more: the anatomy of a wheel
The rim is an essential component of a wheel (although most people consider them one and the same thing):
1) Outboard face/the “spider” – the face of the wheel which makes the design visible when looking at the vehicle and provides structure for the wheel
2) Center bore – an empty hole in the center of the wheel which is often covered by a center cap with the manufacturer’s logo so it isn’t visible when the wheel is on the car
3) Center disc/plate – the central section around the center bore that contains the lug holes; it bolts to the wheel hub, while the spokes connect the rim to the plate
4) Spokes – the structures that connect from the plate to the edge of the rim; they play a large part in determining the weight and strength of a wheel as are a huge variety of spoke patterns, with different spoke counts, diameters, lengths, and shapes available
5) Rim – outer diameter of the wheel usually measured when discussing the size of a wheel
6) Bolt circle – the circle that is created by the centers of the lug holes, where the lugs affix the wheel to the hub
7) Valve stem bore – the hole that allows air to be added to the tire; the valve stem itself be made of rubber or metal.
Wheel rims are made from a few different materials, which does not only affect the look of the wheels but, more importantly, their strength, weight and durability. Here are the most common types:
1) Steel – simple and cheap, usually essential in the design and fitted to low-cost cars; a hubcap often covers them to add some style and are often heavier than more costly equivalents
2) Aluminum alloy – strike a solid balance between strength, weight, durability and cost, so all types of cars from every automaker are fitted with aluminum wheels, from sedans to trucks, to luxury cars
3) Carbon fibre – extremely light and strong, but brittle (a single impact with a curb or piece of road debris can render them useless); still scarce, but more and more vehicles are available with carbon fibre wheels.
(Look at our infographic to get a clearer picture of the differences between steel and alloy wheels.)
Strictly technically speaking, wheels provide a means of mounting and affixing the tires to the vehicle through which the engine’s power is transferred to the ground. As the engine generates power, it moves through the drivetrain to the wheels, which bolt to the wheel hub and rotate around the axles. For the wheels to turn and propel the car forward, you need to have friction provided by the tires in direct and constant contact with the ground under the car. The car gets the leverage it needs to move by the wheel, transferring power from the axle and the hub to the tires. The larger the wheel is compared to the engine’s power, the bigger the leverage and the faster the car moves.
What to consider before installing new wheels
Moreover, looks aside, the car’s wheels significantly impact its alignment, handling, braking, ride quality, and acceleration, as well as the calibration of the speedometer. Therefore, before installing new wheels on your car, consider these things:
1) Make sure it fits in the wheel well
2) Consider the correct backspacing (the width of the wheel and the location of the mounting plate)
3) Ensure it matches your vehicle’s wheel bolt pattern
4) Determine if there is an adequate selection of tires that fit the new wheels
5) Make sure the wheels aren’t rubbing anything on the vehicle, especially while turning or under suspension compression.
Another major thing to consider when buying car wheels is their size. If you want to replace wheels on your car, you have to make sure that your new wheel and tire are as close in diameter as your old wheel and tire.
Following this particular rule will benefit you in a few ways. For example,
1) You won’t have to spend more money to make additional modifications to your car and/or wheels to make them fit
2) You won’t risk your safety since you will have control over your vehicle on the road
3) Your acceleration times and fuel consumption won’t suffer (or might get marginally better).
Finally, despite being solid pieces of metal that can support hundreds of kilos of weight, there is a number of things to consider when it comes to wheel rims and wheels as a whole. Aside from size considerations, durability and strength are crucial to staying safe behind the wheel. Lightweight wheels may spin up faster and turn more readily but are more susceptible to denting, cracking, and other damage. Heavy wheels might be stronger and more durable but can reduce fuel economy. Every vehicle type has different needs, so you need to find the wheels that will suit them best.
Essential facts about wheel rims
Knowing how wheel technology has changed over time helps us to understand why wheels are designed the way they are and how to choose and maintain the best rims for a particular vehicles. Here are some interesting facts about the history and design of rims:
1. Andre Michelin invented modern rims.
The basic design of modern car wheels relates to the invention of removable pneumatic tires in 1891. Andre Michelin, one of the co-founders of the famous tire brand, was working in his rubber factory one day when a cyclist came in and asked if he could help repair a damaged tire on his bike. Andre and his brother Edouard struggled to remove the tire because it was glued to the wheel. The two of them decided to build something that would be easier to maintain, so the removable tire concept was born.
2. Aftermarket wheels are a relatively recent invention
Until the 1950s, every brand and type of vehicle had its own specific and proprietary wheels. In the 1950s, American Racing Equipment began to design and manufacture a series of aftermarket rims, i.e. rims that could be fitted on multiple car types and were not affiliated with any specific automobile brand. We now take aftermarket wheels for granted, but they were a bold new concept when American Racing Equipment first introduced them.
3. Steel and alloy rims each have pros and cons
Rims are generally made of either steel or alloys of aluminium or magnesium. Alloy wheels are rising in popularity and many car enthusiasts are outspoken about their superiority over steel. However, both materials have their benefits. Steel is cheaper and extremely sturdy, making them an excellent choice for monetary savings and durability. On the other hand, alloy wheels are lighter, allow easier handling and mileage, and make for a much smoother ride.
4. It is essential to clean rims
Rims are susceptible to corrosion over time – regardless of whether they are made of steel or alloy. Proper care and maintenance of rims, including thorough, regular cleaning, are essential. Two main agents of rim corrosion are brake dust and the metal shavings shed from the brake discs every time you slow down or stop your car. Luckily, cleaning rims requires no effort or special detergents or equipment. Sponging them down with a good car shampoo or clay-based cleaner will do the trick.
When thinking about changing your wheel rims, it’s wise to consult an experienced professional to ensure you select a design compatible with your vehicle. And we are just the right kind of mechanic for that. Come to our repair shop in Hamilton today, and let’s upgrade your automotive pet together!
We are located only 5 min driving North of St. Peter’s Hospital – Hamilton Health Sciences and 6 min driving North of Gage Park.
Since 2005, we have built a reputation for delivering exceptional automotive repair services and outstanding customer care.
Our commitment to excellence and dedication to our clients have made us a trusted name in automotive care.
Our team of licensed technicians is experienced in working on all makes and models, including electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids.
Our comprehensive range of services ensures that your vehicle remains in top condition, covering all aspects of automotive repair and maintenance.
When you choose CRS Automotive, you’re choosing a team that genuinely cares about you and your vehicle.