A Few Fundamentals of Vehicle Wheels
Every component of a vehicle is critical, and all of them have to work in tandem for the best performance. However, some parts are more crucial than others like the wheels. The right rims can turn even a beaten up vehicle into a usable machine, but the wrong ones can render even the most expensive automobile useless. It is why car owners have to insist on getting the correct tyres when replacing them. The reason is that, eventually, you will have to change out your old tyres. Driving around on rims that have outlived their usefulness is dangerous. This part of a vehicle is what facilitates contact with the road, and if it fails to achieve that as required, accidents can happen. A solution is to know the right rims for your car. Not everyone, though is familiar with car rims, which can make the process of finding the right ones challenging. Learning a few basics can solve that.
Wheel Manufacturing Techniques
Car rims are not built the same, and that is why they come in numerous designs. Aluminium and steel are two of the materials that manufacturers use, and they dictate the methods applied to make rims. Aluminium billet (dense aluminium) is used in the forging process. What happens is that the material is put under extreme pressure then rolled into shape. Then, follows a machining procedure for the finishing. Forging makes it possible to create quality products using less material.
One-piece casting requires molten metal to be poured into a cast, which has the desired shape of the wheel. As the metal cools, it hardens into the cast, acquiring the form. One-piece casting can be done in counter pressure moulding, low pressure or high counter pressure moulding. The wheel design determines the most appropriate casting technique.
Then, there is the option of a multi-piece wheel, which is a combination of the casting and forging techniques. The centre can be cast aluminium while the outer is forged steel. Alternatively, the outside can be rolled aluminium and the inside a billed centre. This technique allows vehicle owners to have customised products that are designed with precise specifications.
The Different Types Available
One consideration for car owners when buying products is the material. Steel and aluminium are two materials that are used for the wheel. Some manufacturers use alloys of magnesium and aluminium. Knowing each material's properties is essential for an informed decision. Compared to steel, alloy wheels are stronger due to the blend of different metals. An alloy wheel tends to be lightweight, which has some performance benefits when on the road. A light wheel translates to less pressure on the suspension system and its components and consequently, a longer life. Lighter tyres allow a vehicle to accelerate and stop faster. The excellent thermal conductivity of alloys makes them ideal for high-performance vehicles that can capitalise on the quick dissipation of heat.
Steel rims are other common choices that vehicle owners have on the market. In fact, most manufacturers use steel for the wheel section, and a driver may prefer the same when replacing them. Price is the biggest motivation for picking steel over alloy. The challenge with a mixed compound is that manufacturers incur the cost of two different metals. Steel is readily available, which saves consumers a lot of trouble when replacing rims. Another plus side is that steel is easier to repair. When your rims can still handle the vehicle but may need fixing, a mechanic can hammer them in for the desired result. If a car owner is looking for a stronger metal, aluminium wheels are suitable alternatives. The material conducts heats well and is durable.
Whether you are getting aluminium, steel or alloy rims, you must consider the finish. A wheel's finish refers to the surface treatment of the rim. Aluminium wheels usually undergo machining or polishing. With machining, the rim only goes through a shaping process. For the polished look, the wheel has to undergo another process that fine-tunes the surface for that smooth appearance.
A chrome finish is a popular option when looking to spruce up a vehicle, especially SUVs and luxury sports cars. With this surface finish, a rim must have several other layers of metal applied. It means that chrome finishes are more costly than others due to the work that goes into them. However, it matters what material the rim is. With steel, a chrome finish doesn't require too much work to take.
Then, there is painting, which is the most inexpensive surface finish. It is possible for a buyer to find rims with more than one finish. For instance, a wheel can be polished then painted for the best solutions. Appearance is an obvious aspect of picking the right surface finish, but it also determines the lifespan of the wheel. Surface finish protects against contaminants and the elements, which can degrade the integrity of wheels.