Rims are an important part of every car’s equipment. We can distinguish two types of rims – steel and aluminum. Each of them has some important advantages and disadvantages. Which wheel type should you choose for your car?
Until recently alloy wheels were considered to be a premium wheel exclusive to sports or luxury cars. However this trend has started to change and alloy wheels are becoming more and more popular for owners of mid-range and lower priced car models.
There are several techniques for manufacturing alloy wheels. These include
- low-pressure casting – this method involves pouring melted aluminum into a mold under pressure;
- forging – is a process consisting of several stages such as heating, rolling and hammering. Rims made by forging are characterized by high strength;
- flow-forming method – this method consists in passing heated aluminium through a system of rollers. This method allows for light weight wheels while maintaining high performance.
Advantages of alloy wheels
Some of the main advantages of alloy wheels are
- nice, aesthetic, attractive appearance – this feature in combination with tires can give the car the right character, moreover, a large variety of designs and colors are available, so that every driver is sure to find a model among them to suit his tastes and needs;
- flexibility – the elasticity of the rims means that they do not break under pressure but simply deform. This flexibility enables the vehicle to be kept under control and brought to a safe stop in the event of damage to the rims;
- assist brake system cooling – aluminium wheels assist ventilation of the brake system. This is because aluminium is a very good conductor of heat and transfers it from the surface of the brake discs. In addition aluminium wheels also have a more open design which makes the whole cooling process easier;
- tested quality – reputable wheels are tested many times e.g. in X-ray. This ensures the quality of the wheels on the market;
- light weight – aluminium wheels are lighter than steel wheels which affects the grip and driving comfort of the vehicle. This also makes the shock absorbers work more efficiently.
Disadvantages of alloy wheels
- sensitivity to slush and road salt;
- price – usually a set of alloy wheels is several times more expensive than a set of steel wheels;
- higher repair and reconditioning costs;
- more difficult care – in order to keep the wheels in good condition, they need to be cared for and maintained regularly, preferably using special dedicated products;
- low profile – usually alloy wheels have a lower profile, which can have a negative impact on driving comfort;
- relatively lower strength.
Aluminium wheels are especially recommended for owners of newer cars and drivers for whom the aesthetics of the vehicle play an important role. However, their properties in a real way translate not only into an attractive appearance of the car, but also comfort and driving safety.
Steel wheels have been very popular among drivers for many years. This is mainly due to their economic advantages. A steel wheel is constructed of two components, which are the wheel and rim. These are separately stamped from two pieces of metal and then properly calibrated and welded.
Advantages of steel wheels
- low price – Steel wheels are not only cheaper to buy, but also to repair and recondition if necessary;
- resistance – steel wheels are relatively stiff and resistant to light impacts;
- ease of repair – repairs to steel wheels usually do not require the use of specialist tools. It can often be done with a simple hammer. Moreover steel is easily machined;
- higher profile – steel wheels have a higher profile than aluminium wheels, which makes for a more comfortable ride.
Disadvantages of steel wheels
- low corrosion resistance;
- high weight – the weight of the wheel can affect the suspension system of the vehicle;
- susceptibility to cracking;
- unattractive appearance, as well as a small variety of available designs and colors;
- poor brake cooling.
Steel wheels are recommended for drivers who are looking for budget solutions, as well as for people who often drive on poorer quality roads. This is a solution for traditionalists who are less concerned about how their car looks. The choice of the type of rims is very individual and depends on the personal needs and preferences of the driver.