1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Choosing the Correct Aftermarket Wheel

Discussion in 'General Tech Articles' started by pissedoffsol, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. pissedoffsol

    pissedoffsol RETIRED

    Likes Received:
    Sep 28, 2002
    Retirement Home
    Choosing the Correct Wheel

    By: Chet Hewitt


    Aftermarket wheels play a major role in the import performance scene. In many instances the first “upgrade†made by auto enthusiasts is getting alloy wheels. Usually, these wheels are “plus sized†and chosen for their looks. However, most people fail to consider all of the aspects concerning this very important piece of performance. Alloy Wheels provide superior strength and are usually lighter compared to steel wheels. There are some misconceptions that are often overlooked. Bigger wheels are not always better and “mag†wheels are not usually magnesium. Hopefully this article will help in making an educated decision when purchasing a pair of alloy wheels.

    Performance Gains:

    Aftermarket wheels can have a positive or negative effect on your car’s performance. Contrary to popular belief, not all aftermarket wheels will improve your car’s performance. First, it’s important to consider rotational mass and its effect on acceleration and braking. The lighter the wheel, the quicker the response and the better your car will handle. Its pretty simple however many people overlook this fact. Aftermarket alloy wheels also help in cooling the brakes by conducting heat faster.

    How to determine Quality:

    The adage “you get what you pay for†seems to hold true when considering the quality of a wheel. Manufacturers like Volk, Spoon, Racing Hart, and HRE are among the leaders in the aftermarket wheel industry. It is important to look at the wheel’s construction and weight. Usually the best wheels are lightweight (i.e. 8-10lbs for 15-inch wheels, 11-14 lbs for 16-inch) and forged.

    Wheel Construction:

    Aluminum alloy wheels come in one-piece, two-piece, and three-piece construction types, with most being one-piece wheels. One-piece wheels are cast, forged or roll forged in a mold in one complete section. Two-piece wheels have a separate inner section and outer section. They are either bolted or welded together. Always be cautious of wheels that are just welded together, as they seem to not always be as round as one-piece wheels. The two-piece wheels that are bolted together tend to be of high quality. Three-piece wheels use not only a separate center, but also have two outer sections; the inner and outer rim halves. These three-piece modular wheels use aircraft quality bolts to hold them together, and many of them use forged components to reduce weight, while improving strength. The use of three-piece wheels allows the manufacturer greater flexibility in offering many wheel models even in small quantities. Forged wheels are the most advanced method of manufacturing wheels. Forging compresses a billet of aluminum into a wheel by using as much as 14 million pounds of pressure combined with heat. The result is a wheel that is up to three times stronger and as much as 20% lighter than a conventional cast wheel. Roll forging is a variation of forging where a roughcast rim is pressed into its final shape while rolling. Roll forged wheels require less material thickness than cast wheels which reduces the weight while maintaining strength.

    The “Plus-Size†Concept:

    Choosing a wheel that is larger than your vehicles stock wheel can have many benefits. However bigger is not always better. Lets say a vehicle comes stock with 14 x 6 wheels and 195/75/14 tires. To maintain the same overall diameter you can have 15 x 7 with 205/65/15’s, 16 x 8 wheels with 215/55/16’s and so on. A tire with a smaller sidewall and wider tire will increase lateral stability and responsiveness. However, the same tire will provide less traction in the hole-shot because the sidewalls are stiffer and the tire pressure is higher. With most applications a compromise is usually the best way to achieve optimum performance. Spoon recommends their 15-inch or 16-inch tire with Honda Civic’s for several reasons. First, their 15-inch tire only weighs 8.8lbs. This is one of the lightest wheels on the market today and offers exceptional performance for about 1600 dollars.

    Bolt Patterns:

    The bolt pattern or bolt circle is the diameter of an imaginary circle formed by the centers of the wheel lugs. Bolt patterns can be 4, 5, or 6. A bolt circle of 4 x 100 would indicate a 4-lug pattern on a circle with a diameter of 100mm.

    Here is a table converting inches to millimeters:

    Inches Millimeters

    4 x 3.93 4 x 100

    4 x 4.25 4 x 107.95

    4 x 4.33 4 x 110

    4 x 4.50 4 x 114.3

    4 x 5.12 4 x 130

    4 x 5.51 4 x 140

    5 x 4.00 5 x 100

    5 x 4.25 5 x 107.95

    5 x 4.50 5 x 114.3

    5 x 4.53 5 x 115

    5 x 4.72 5 x 120

    5 x 4.75 5 x 120.65

    5 x 5.12 5 x 130

Share This Page