Most motorists will probably know what an aftermarket wheel is, but for those who are just learning how to drive and are still trying to appreciate the intricacies of their vehicles, the term may sound a bit technical.
As such, a simple explanation is in order, of which a notable one is that some people see aftermarket wheels as the set of tires that you buy for your car after the original set has worn out either through regular use or when you unfortunately suffer a flat tire.
However, there is more to an aftermarket wheel than just a mere replacement to the original tire set. These are actually wheels that have been designed to provide a new look to your car. In effect, they are the primary tools that you will need if you have plans of customizing or personalizing your car.
Original Equipment (OE) wheels tend to restrict a given vehicle to the standard model. This is why many car owners opt to have their vehicles customized once they get the opportunity. Still, there are many other reasons personalized cars attract a good following and these can be narrowed down to three essential factors:
Personalization. The need to stand out from the rest and be easily recognized is part of human nature. In a society where thousands of different vehicles pass by major city roads, it can be quite difficult to be noticed if your car happens to be among the ordinary types. This is where aftermarket wheels can effectively come in. If you choose wisely, you can end up having a regular car sporting a unique set of wheels, ideally, one that fits perfectly into your desired lifestyle.
Improved performance. New tires often mean improved performance, but with aftermarket wheels, the improvement can be exponential. Generally, a typical aftermarket wheel is much lighter when compared to its OE counterpart, and this enables your car to perform better on practically all road types, even on very imperfect ones.
Additionally, there is often less vibrations when a new set of tires is in place. Many are unable to experience any adverse feelings that usually resonate in the cabin area. In effect, a more stable ride is experienced by the passenger and even the driver when there are new tires rolling beneath the hood.
In this regard, opting for large-sized aftermarket wheels offers a few basic advantages. Chief of these is that your car gets to project a more aggressive image, a prospect that is worth looking into, especially if you happen to be an active type of person. An increase in wheel size, however, will necessarily mean a corresponding increase in the size of the rim and the other related components. Failure to keep this in mind can result in vehicle imbalance.
Enhancement. With an aftermarket wheel, generally old cars are given a new and refreshing look, allowing them to settle quite comfortably among relatively newer vehicles.
A lot of people are under the impression that customized wheels serve only to improve the aesthetic value of a car. In a way, this is accurate since it can be quite hard not to be attracted by an ordinary-looking car running on four exciting wheels. However, aftermarket wheels carry several other benefits that are not entirely limited to projecting a newer and better image for your vehicle.
Specifically, this particular wheel type is more concerned about providing generally better overall road performance for the cars. They include the following:
Added rigidity. Newly-bought tires often have added strength, and this helps decrease incidences of tire deflections which take place when the sidewall and the tread both flex after the latter gets to touch the road surface. If you happen to own high-performance cars, you need to understand that decreasing tire deflection cases is important in order to avoid poor control of the vehicle.
Increased brake cooling. Aftermarket wheels that are made of alloy are generally known to conduct heat quite efficiently. What this does is dissipate the brake heat better as well as minimize the possibility of getting a brake fade especially when driving in areas where the brakes are expected to work harder than usual. In some modern-day wheels, an air path is even created with air flowing towards the brake.
Quicker acceleration and braking. Since most aftermarket wheels are known to carry less weight than their OE counterparts, they normally help decrease the unsprung weight of your car, along with its rotational mass. This in turn leads to improved braking and acceleration. For the uninformed, unsprung weight refers to that area of your car that your suspension does not support.
In spite of the potential benefits, there is no assurance that your new tire set will automatically give you better overall performance on the road. This will still be dependent on the quality of the wheels that you will get to purchase. In this regard, when thinking of getting customized wheels for your car, some of the things that you ought to consider should include the following:
*Wheel offset – this refers to the distance between the hub mounting area and wheel centerline. Wheel offsets are categorized into three different types, namely, positive, negative, and zero offset. The latter is characterized by a hub mounting area located in the center of the rim. Positive offset, meanwhile, denotes a hub mounting area found in front of the wheel centerline. OE wheels usually carry this particular offset type. On the other hand, negative offset features a hub mounting area situated on the brake portion.
When purchasing a set of aftermarket wheels, you need to determine the wheel offset type of your car. Based on this, simply get the most ideal, although you should also look for offsets that will not lead to unnecessary rubbing between the car fender and the tire.
*Size – for drivers who prefer to ride in cars having huge wheels, personalized wheels will usually meet their needs. However, it should be noted that when settling for bigger tires, a typical car can only handle a tire approximately two times bigger than the original one. Several problems, particularly in the control aspect, could be experienced when getting tires bigger than that.
*Width – when it comes to the width of the car, the general perception is that wider wheels will always be better. This may be true in some respects, but not entirely accurate. You have to consider the kind of weather that you live in when thinking of getting tires that are unusually wide. For instance, an area frequented by rains and snow could compromise your driving control if you have wide tires beneath the hood.
*Weight – as mentioned previously, an aftermarket wheel normally carries less weight, but not in all cases. As such, if you want better road performance, you need to check if your new tires are a lot lighter than their predecessors.
*Bolt pattern – this refers to that imaginary circle that is formed around the wheel lugs. Sometimes known as the bolt circle, this aspect of your wheels is quite important in your search for suitable replacements for the simple reason that a mismatch between your new wheels and the rim of your car will not only mean a waste of money, the physical appearance of your vehicle will also be seriously compromised.
If you are unsure of the specific bolt pattern of your wheels, it is best to get in touch with your manufacturer or the nearest local car dealer. Another option is to make the needed search online where you can find lots of useful information about bolt patterns.
*Wheel manufacturing – the focus here is not on the name of the tire manufacturer but on the process of manufacturing the wheel for the purpose of determining its weight and strength. Various methods are employed in the manufacture of aftermarket wheels, and these include forging, high-counter pressure molding, counter-pressure casting, and low-pressure casting. Of these methods, wheels which underwent forging process are seen to be the strongest and yet have lightweight properties. They also happen to be a bit more costly, so you may want consider high-counter pressure molding-based wheels. They are generally as strong as forged wheels, but cost a little less.
Once you get to have a good grasp of the things you need to look for when buying an aftermarket wheel, you might come to think that the buying process will be a breeze. This is only partly true as you might be surprised to find that that these wheel types are actually available in several different kinds. Not having any idea on the kind of aftermarket wheel that will fit nicely onto your car could prove to be disastrous.
Given this, you need to familiarize yourself with the more common types of aftermarket wheels currently being sold in the automotive market. These include the following:
*One-Piece Wheel – these are wheels that have been cast and forged, even roll-forged into a mold and come in a single but complete set. They normally look good apart from being inexpensive, making these the most popular of all aftermarket wheel types. Additionally, these wheels are considered sturdy, with the designs open to modifications. However, they tend to be heavier, with their widths and offsets generally limited. To address these restrictions, manufacturers are currently working on producing one-piece wheels that are of bigger sizes.
*Two-Piece Wheel – despite its name, two-piece wheels carry less weight when compared to the one-piece model. It typically has a forged rim, with its center welded together as it was produced in casting machines under low pressure. For these reasons, two-piece wheels are considered as performance tires.
With this particular type of aftermarket wheel, you can expect to have better control of your car. Additionally, you can buy these wheels under more convenient terms since they are available in various widths, with the option of having the wheel offset largely customized. The downside is that you should be prepared to spend money on these wheels as they are more expensive when ranged against the one-piece version. Its outer rim is also said to be prone to easy damaging perhaps because of the concentration on having the center portion welded together.
*Three-Piece Wheel – these types of customized wheels are noted for having a separate center as well as two separate barrels which include its inner and outer parts. They have been built to last a bit longer using bolts intended for common aircrafts in order to hold the parts together. To ensure that they remain lightweight even as strength is improved, three-piece wheels are normally produced using forged materials. The forging process essentially gives manufacturers the freedom to be more flexible when it comes to the production of the wheel, making this an easy fit for most vehicles.
In addition, three-piece wheels come in various width and wheel offset sizes, often based on the year and model of any given car. Since they are lightweight, you can expect easier and improved handling of your vehicle. However, of all aftermarket wheel types, the three-piece wheel is considered as the most expensive, which is understandable given its many positive features. Another negative comment made about this particular wheel type is that it is known to suffer damages a lot faster.
Based on the above, you should be able to get a clearer idea on the aftermarket wheel that will meet your needs and that of your car. Essentially though, one-piece wheels should be perfect for your daily driving requirements. On the other hand, if you have a passion for customizing your vehicle as well as getting improved driving performance, the two-piece and the three-piece wheels ought to be looked into more seriously.
It may be true that the process of customizing or personalizing a car involves more than just the simple purchase of aftermarket wheels. Still, they serve as good starting points because when you really think about it, the wheels of your car act as the feet which enable this to move around. Just like our own set of feet that we adorn with stylish footwear, our car wheels should also be well taken care of, even if it means making use of customized tires.