What are Alloy Wheels and what advantages do they have?

May 03, 2018

What are Alloy Wheels and what advantages do they have?

There’s an old adage when it comes to cars that it’s the outside of the vehicle that initially hooks a driver and the inside of a vehicle that closes the deal. While we won’t speak for the various features found in vehicle interiors to help accomplish this, we will discuss one of the important exterior features that can make a vehicle much more attractive – the wheels.

There are various different types of wheels that vehicles can be outfitted with, with the two most popular being steel and alloy. This post will take a closer look at alloy wheels, and just what the “alloy” aspect of it means. Just think of this post as Alloy Wheels: 101.

What is Alloy?

Before we can get into the advantages of alloy wheels, it’s first important to discuss the alloy material. Specifically, when “alloy wheels” are discussed, it’s referring to a wheel made of a mixture of metals, such as aluminum or magnesium. Because of the metals that often make up alloy wheels, they’re also often referred to as “mag wheels.”

Alloy wheels are typically created via casting or forging, though other production methods throughout their history have included gravity casting. In the end, they’re touted for being lighter than steel wheels, and those that are forged are generally also more durable than those that are cast. Whether created via casting or forging, the manufacturing methods allow complex designs to be created, which helps alloy wheels achieve the look that many drivers yearn for to complement the styling of their vehicles.

Alloy wheels are generally more expensive to produce than steel wheels, and because of this they’ve historically been more of an aftermarket option, unless you were purchasing a sports car or high-end, luxury vehicle. However, that changed around the turn of the century, and more automakers are currently offering alloy wheels even on certain trims of compact, sub-compact and budget vehicles.

Alloy Wheel Advantages

The alloy material has many advantages over others, many of which translate over into wheel benefits as well. Here’s a look at some of the top benefits to outfitting a vehicle with alloy wheels:

  • Aesthetics: Like we noted in the opening, alloy wheels typically just look far more stylish than others. This is largely due to a more complex manufacturing process to create the alloy wheels, which lends itself to more creative and even custom designs. Put a steel wheel up against an alloy wheel, and it’s clear which one is better looking.

  • Performance: Looks aren’t the only thing that alloy wheels have going for them, they can also help improve vehicle performance. For instance, alloy wheels are significantly lighter than steel ones, something that helps a vehicle in terms of fuel economy, braking and accelerating. Steering and handling is also often improved with alloy wheels. The lighter wheels also help limit wear and tear on other vehicle components, like the engine, transmission and suspension. Alloy wheels also permit better heat conduction and dissipation, which directly translates to better braking. These enhanced heat dissipation properties also mean that a vehicle’s tires are less likely to prematurely wear out, as they’ll remain cooler.

  • Lightweight: Though we hit on this benefit in the above point, it’s worth mentioning again – alloy wheels are significantly lighter than their steel counterparts, something that helps improve a vehicle’s fuel economy, strain on various components and enhance its handling. Keep in mind that every 10 percent reduction in weight that can be achieved translates to up to a 7 percent enhancement when it comes to fuel economy. That’s big.

  • Corrosion-resistant: A final key benefit to alloy wheels – and the alloy material – is that they are more corrosion and rust resistant compared to steel and other metals. After all, if you’re going to pay more money to have alloy wheels – whether via aftermarket option or on the lot – it’s going to behoove you that they’re going to last for a while. Thanks to the material and the way that they’re manufactured, you can count on them to look good and be long lasting.

As you can see, alloy wheels are a lot more than just another type of wheel. For many, they’re the only type of wheel that matters today. Now that you know what an “alloy wheel” really means, you can make the decision if this is the right type of wheel for your vehicle.

For more information on alloy wheels, and to learn more about their benefits and advantages, contact us today.





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