Understanding Alloy Wheels
Alloy has become the standard wheel material in many modern cars. Meanwhile, the long-dominant steel has been relegated to base and low-spec trims and models. The reason? Aside from being lightweight and performance-enhancing, they can also come in many designs because they are easier to cast. They are also completely rust-proof. But these advantages are not the only reasons alloy rims are so special. Read on to learn more about alloy wheels.
What makes up an alloy wheel?
Alloy wheel rims are made up of a mixture of aluminum, carbon, and other metals. Magnesium used to be a major ingredient, but it was soon discovered that they made the wheels flammable, and so a lot of wheel manufacturers removed them from their products. Alloy wheels can be polished, painted, machined or chromed, thus owing to their endless design possibilities. The way the alloy is cast or forged plays a role in the material's strength.
What's all the fuss about alloy wheel offset?
Each car has an ideal offset range for which the wheel can still fit the car properly. It's the wheel offset determines how far under or far towards the arch a wheel will be positioned. Offset is usually engraved or stamped into the wheel and appears as millimeters of ET—short for Einpresstiefe, a German word that means 'insertion depth'). Negative Offset wheel has its mounting face toward the rear of the wheel, and is often seen in rear-wheel drive cars. A Zero Offset has its mounting face directly within the center line of the wheel. A Positive Offset wheel has their mount face toward the front face of the wheel, and is usually applicable in front wheel drive vehicles.
Advantage of large alloy wheels
Aside from being easily noticeable, larger alloys tend to fill the fenders better and are more proportionate with the rest of the body. They are also better for handling, as the tires bend less under the weight of the car as it turns, which means they don't lose shape during cornering. This allows the tires to grip the road better, thus improving handling.
So what alloy size is best for my car?
It all depends on your personal preference and your car's recommendations. Many upper trim cars will come with larger wheels as standard, compared to lower trim models. Don't hesitate to consult with an expert on which alloy size/s work best for your car. Aftermarket alloy wheels can be expensive, so you don't want your purchase riddled with buyer's remorse.