Many car owners would use the words wheels and rims interchangeably to denote the car’s rims. But in reality, wheels and rims are different simply because a wheel is composed of a tire, the wheel’s outer rubber surface, and a rim, its metal core. For the sophisticated car lover, it is important to choose the right rims to suit your car.
Brief History of Wheels and Rims
Wheels are not yet invented until the year 3500 BC, however people has learned the concept of wheels during the Paleolithic age for transportation. People learned that if they use circular objects to roll underneath then they can push larger objects such as stones without the need to lift these up. They have used logs which are cut from the trees to act as rollers under these objects. The only problem with this process is the rollers left behind have to be placed on the front of the object again which is why a large amount of rollers is required.
The first ever invented wheels are seen in ancient Iraq (Mesopotamia) wherein it is made of stone and is used to create clay pottery, far from its use for transportation. During 3200 BC, the Mesopotamians learned to use this technology to transport goods from one place to another by creating wheeled carts with four wooden wheels and two long poles as axles, hence the first invented rim. In 1700 BC, ancient Egypt picked this invention and made improvements by using separate spokes for the wheels. Later on, ancient Greece improved this by using cross-bar wheels and the Celtic civilization first used iron spokes for their wheeled chariots.
But even with these wheel advancements, people still haven’t figured out how to use these wheels to move without the help of animals such as horses, dogs and camels until the 18th century. In 1802, G.F Bauer patented the first wire tension spoke in which the wire is attached from the rims of the wheel to the core. This discovery led to the concept and invention of bicycles. In 1888, John Duntop patented the pneumatic tire first idealized by R. W. Thompson and which became the basis for vehicle wheels used today.
Centuries later, car manufacturers found a way in order to make the wheel rims more durable and affordable, by manufacturing discs. Manufacturers learned to use steel instead of wood to make rims that are resistant to water, damage and other vehicle-related elements. Discs are first formed by stamping a disc model on a metal sheet like a cookie cutter, and outer rims are manufactured quickly by rolling a thick metal sheet to form a perfect metal cylinder. This process is improved with other manufacturing processes and factory robots nowadays to quicken the production of commercial rims.
Different Types of Rims
There are two types of wheel rims depending on the base material used: the alloy-based and the steel-based rims. Steel rims are made of pure steel metal while alloy rims are actually rims made of aluminum and manganese alloys. In terms of weight, alloy rims are lighter than steel rims which make the former efficient in speed than the latter. But because of its solid nature, steel rims absorb heat slower than allow rims which makes it more durable than the latter. Broken steel rims are also easier and cheaper to repair than alloy rims.
In terms of appearance, alloy rims are more beautiful than steel rims due to its color. Alloy rims have a glossy metallic appearance, while steel rims have a darker and dull metallic appearance. Because of the luster of alloy rims, many manufacturers created different alloy disc designs and patterns in order to cater the needs of car lovers.
Because of the two contrasting features of alloy and steel rims, these can be used in two different types of vehicles which are sport racing and commuter’s vehicles respectively. The light alloy wheel rims makes racing cars run faster than by using steel rims, and steel rims are durable enough to last outdoor weather perfect for ordinary cars and heavy duty trucks. Since sport cars are used rarely by people, it is great to use these alloy rims on these types of vehicles even if these are damage-prone.
Nowadays, wheel rims also have two different categories according on how it is made: the casted and forged rims. Casted rims are made by sculpting the heated liquid metal first in specially designed molders and then cooled on afterwards, while forged rims are made by cutting, heating and pounding hard metal to get the desired result. Each manufacturing processes are not limited for making certain types of rims because alloy rims can be made from both of these processes. In terms of retail price, casted rims are more inexpensive than forged rims because of the added labor costs at the latter.
In terms of durability, forged rims are better than casted rims because of the materials used. Since forged rims have to be melted or pounded in order to get the desired design, the materials used have to be durable enough to withstand these. Forged rims are also lighter in mass than casted rims because of the amount of metal used in the process. Because of these different features, forged wheels can easily be used by ten-wheeler trucks, tractors, fire trucks and other heavy vehicles while casted wheels suit lighter vehicles such as cars and vans.
If these types of rims didn’t blow you away, then you might want to buy spinning rims. Spinning rims, or the so-called spinners, look like ordinary wheel rims except that these also move on its own even if the vehicle stops. The reason behind this magic is because of its unique structure, one disc holds the tire while another is separated from the wheel setup and through the movement of the wheels’ ball bearings, it moves even if the car is not moving. Spinning rims comes in different designs and sizes and some have an extra gloss to catch the sun’s rays; however these can cost from $700 – $2,500.
For people who want to have spinning rims without spending a lot of money, then they can purchase spinning hubs. These car accessories have to be attached to the front of the rims to spin on its own just like spinning rims and these are a lot cheaper than the latter. Spinning hubs are also shiny and have different designs just like spinning rims. The only problem that you might encounter with these is for people to easily notice the real rim behind those holes especially when the car is in motion.
Rims – Getting the Measurements
Buying wheel rims is not as easy as counting numbers because not all rims are suited to every car. There are many rim measurements to consider before buying one or else it might cause danger to the owner and the vehicle. The wrong rims can make the tire wear off easily, slows the car’s brakes and steering properties, affect the speed and running performance of the car and worse create vehicle accidents. If you know the right measurements, then you can be sure that you will be safe in your car.
The first measurement to look for is the dimensions of the wheel rims. If a vehicle owner brought rims with the wrong dimensions then the tires might be too loose or tight which will make the car uneven. One of the quickest ways to get the measurement is to find an alphanumeric code on the side of the rims, for example P245/45R17 gives you the width of 245 inches, height of 45 inches and diameter of 17 inches. If there is no code on the side, then you can use a tape measure to get these dimensions yourself.
The second measurement to consider is the structure of the bolts on the rims. This is another important factor because if you get the wrong bolt structure then these rims might not match correctly on the axle. Getting a replacement for the right rims is another time consuming and sometimes expensive process. The best way to get the right bolt pattern is to count the number of bolts on the rims and measure the distance of the bolts if the number is even or measure from the center of the rim to the bolt if the number is odd. A bolt pattern of 4×100 will give you four bolts with a distance of 100 mm from one bolt to another.
The third and last measurement to consider is the offset of the rims. The offset is the distance between the centerline and the hub-mounting surface of the rim. If you got the measurement wrong; then the car’s suspension and brakes will not work properly, the tire will rub frequently on the rim surface and wear it off including the bearings and other suspension hub parts. The best way to get it right is to measure the width using a ruler and determine the orientation of the offset, having the hub-mounting surface near the brakes component gives a negative offset, having it near outside the wheel gives a positive offset and having no visible hub mounting surface indicates a zero offset.
Rims – Cleaning and Maintenance
Many people first notice the wheel rims of a vehicle before its body which is why it is important for vehicle owners to clean the rims thoroughly the same way as cleaning the body of the car. Wheel rims are probably the hardest place to maintain cleanliness because these are closest to road dust and mud. The problem is wheel rims heat up fast which can bake the acquired dust and make it stick on the surface completely. Baked dust looks nasty and loses the luster on the wheel rims and there is nothing that you can do but to repaint these rims.
There are two main factors to keep in mind in order to clean wheel rims properly. First, you have to make sure that the rims are cool to avoid the soap from baking on the surface and making the situation worse. Second, you have to use mild soap and water solution and a soft cloth in order to maintain the metallic glow of the rims. Once these factors are met, you can easily wash away the dirt on every rim safely. Cleaning rims has to be done every week to eliminate dirt but even if it is time consuming, you can achieve shiny and attractive rims like you just brought these.
There are some instances that car rims needs repair because it is bent or scratched due to environmental factors, wear and tear or by hitting the wheels on hard road objects. Bended wheel rims can make a car unstable especially when on the road and punch holes on the tire. In addition, the driver might not steer the vehicle properly because of bended rims. Because of these factors, it is also important to fix the problem as fast as you can.
The fastest solution is to buy a new set of wheel rims however this process is also expensive which is why owners would rather have it repaired to a well known auto repair shop in order to save money and additional headaches. For people who want to save more cash, they can choose to repair the rims by themselves by taking the rims out of the tire, heating it using a blow torch and pounding it back to its original appearance using a hammer. Of course, you have to do the repairing correctly or you might end up having deformed rims and worse, buying another one.
If wheels does not exist then all of the vehicles seen today will be useless in transporting people and items from one place to another. Rims have to be given a large importance as with tires because these holds the tires makes the vehicle move. Choosing, cleaning and maintaining the rim of your vehicle might be burdensome and costly but these will surely keep it in good working condition for many years to come.