Do you spend much time thinking about your wheels? You may think about your tyres, your brakes, maybe even your shock absorbers, but the poor wheel is often overlooked, even though it lives in the same neighbourhood as these other glamorous parts. Perhaps it’s because the wheel doesn’t require so much attention; it doesn’t really wear out, need resurfacing or need replacement under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, the wheel does serve an important function, and in the case of the alloy wheel, it can be quite aesthetically pleasing as well.
Structural Advantages of Alloy Wheels
Alloy wheels are made from a blend of aluminium and nickel, and this makes them much lighter than steel wheels. This is particularly important because the weight of the wheel is “unsprung weight”, meaning that it is below the shock absorbers or springs so that the weight is applied directly to the road. The result is that a car with lighter alloy wheels will have better acceleration and smoother performance than a car with steel wheels. The lightness of the alloy also contributes to slightly improved fuel economy.
Aesthetic Advantages of Alloy Wheels
The aluminium in alloy wheels makes them more pliable, which proves to be quite a benefit in the wheel design. It can be cast in a variety of shapes and worked into almost any design you want, meaning that a wheel manufacturer can really let their artistic side go wild in the creation of these wheels. As a result, these wheels often look quite distinct and personal, even if they’re installed right off the rack. Alloy wheels can also be painted, polished, chromed or machined to give them a new look.
Disadvantages of Alloy Wheels
An alloy wheel tends to be as much as 75 percent more expensive than a steel wheel. In addition, alloy wheels are likely to need repair or replacement more frequently, not just because the alloy is easier to bend and break, but because the damage is more noticeable. If a steel wheel gets chipped or bent, nobody usually notices because they are kind of basic anyway. An alloy wheel, on the other hand, is often quite striking when undamaged, so the damage is more easily seen.
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