The most important component of our cars is one that owners frequently misunderstand; the wheels. The wheels (and tyres) influence how the car handles, how efficiently the engine power is harnessed, the vehicle’s comfort, and how well the brakes function, among other things, many drivers are basically unaware of their function and importance to the overall operation of the car. This lack of awareness often leads to mistakes when the owner decides to upgrade the wheels.
Are you not happy with how your car looks or performs? It’s easier to sell your car than ever before, especially with websites which will buy any car. Otherwise, upgrading your wheels could be just what you need…
When selecting the wheels, car engineers look for the optimum combination of feel, quality, tyre wear, and noise control as well as style and appearance. Despite those efforts, the wheel and tyre aftermarket is large and growing rapidly.
While there is nothing wrong with upgrading a car’s wheels, the secret is to think performance, not “bling.”
Bigger is not Better
Plus sizing is the fastest growing segment in the aftermarket wheel world, roughly doubling over the past ten years. The standard for upgrading is to increase size by an inch, called a Plus 1 upgrade. This allows for a tyre with wider tread and a lower profile to be mounted on the wheel.
A lower profile improves the grip and enhances road feel. However, the lower profile can increase the likelihood of aquaplaning. Since the wheel rim is closer to the road, wheel damage is more likely to occur. Often it is necessary to retune the suspension after upgrading to avoid a loss of handling ability.
For most cars an upgrade to Plus 3 is possible.
The Advantages of Alloy Wheels
For many drivers the main reason for upgrading to alloy wheels is one of style. While style is indeed a valid concern for owners of truly hideous wheels, enhanced performance is a better reason.
Within reason, lighter wheels are better. Lighter wheels decrease the car’s unsprung weight, the portion of the car not supported by the suspension, resulting in more precise steering and cornering ability. Alloy wheels also offer better brake cooling as the material conducts heat extremely well. The open design of many alloy wheels allow air to flow over the brake rotors and calipers, which is also beneficial for cooling. The slight weight might result in a slight increase in fuel economy as well.
Most wheels are an aluminium alloy, but ultra-lightweight carbon fiber wheels are available as well for those who have little concern for cost.
The main thing to remember in upgrading wheels is the overall effect on handling. A reputable dealer will be the best source of information as to which wheels and tyres work best for particular cars.