Personalization is now the name of the game when it comes to rims for cars. The days of the generic wheel are long gone. This shift in consumer preference from the tried and tested wheels to the identity defining rims for cars of today can be attributed to the evolving stature of the automobile.
In the past, vehicles were coveted for their utility. Today, however, cars have become status symbols or moving showcases that reflect the identity of their owners.
Hence, cars today should not only be useful and functional. They must also have high aesthetic value, something that a good set of rims is capable of providing to any vehicle. There are no hard and fast rules in choosing the right set of rims. What may look classy and elegant in one car could be a major aesthetic disaster in another. In addition, it should not be forgotten that rims are important parts of a vehicle. They are there not merely to improve a car’s look but also to ensure that it would run smoothly.
Matching the right rim for a particular car is one of the main functions of this site, but choosing a set of wheels is an entirely personal decision that only the vehicle owner can do.
Know Your Rims
Rims for cars come in a various styles and materials. Although slowly being pushed to oblivion, steel rims still exist even in this age of fast-paced modernization of vehicles. This type of wheel is usually the default rims that come with brand new cars. However, this may only be true today with the smaller, if not local, car manufacturers. Steel wheels rank low in the aesthetic category, but on the upside, they are durable. Another thing going against steel rims is their weight. These wheels are usually heavy, which could prevent a car from reaching its full speed potential. In addition, these wheels are also prone to corrosion. This last factor could mean additional costs of repainting and even changing wheels in the future. Although they sometimes come with designed caps, steel wheels may be considered eyesores that could bring down the aesthetic value of a car.
Another general type of rim is the alloy wheel. Alloy rims are made from either aluminum or magnesium. Hence, they are commonly called “mags.” Alloy wheels took off in the aftermarket for their light weight compared to steel wheels. Alloy rims are also relatively cheap. However, what made alloy wheels popular among car owners are their designs, which make vehicles more attractive. In recent years, alloys have improved due to new ways of manufacturing. In the past, alloy rims were generally made through casting. Today, mag wheels, or alloy wheels made of magnesium, may now be manufactured through forging, which makes the rim stronger and more ductile than the high pressure die casted varieties.
Chrome rims for cars have also stamped their mark for several years as the wheel of choice of most anyone who wanted to give their vehicle an aesthetic boost. With their shiny appearance, chrome wheels easily got the fancy of many a car lover when they first went into production. Although more expensive than bare alloy rims, chrome rims were considered the ultimate wheels for many years. That is, until everyone who owned a car changed to chrome wheels, effectively making them pedestrian and common place.
As attractiveness became a more important factor than any other aspect of the wheel, the floodgates for innovation were opened and gave rise to another class of rims—the spinners. These wheels are equipped with a spinning appendage attached to the hub. These attached part keeps on spinning when the vehicle is stopped, creating a sort of an illusion that the rims are constantly in motion. Their lack of functional value and high price notwithstanding, spinners remain in demand, especially among the high-rollers who want to modify and add more class to their cars.
In recent years, modification has become a pastime for many car enthusiasts. The modification process involved changing many factory issued parts of the cars. While improved performance is a factor considered in modifying a car, the outside appearance always takes precedence. Hence, the factory installed rims for cars are almost always the first ones to go. Today, custom-made rims are designed to mirror the personality of their owners. The usual chrome rims are no longer enough. Some owners even join in the design process to ensure that their ideas are incorporated into their new rims.
Luckily, the improvement in technology has also made it easier for manufacturers to develop complicated designs and apply multiple finishes without negatively affecting the performance of the car. Aftermarket wheel companies, specifically, have jumped on the phenomenon and now produce custom-made wheels for almost all brands of vehicles. So, whether you own an Audi or a Jaguar owner, there is sure to be an appropriate set of rims to personalize your car.
Customization is not confined to color schemes and rim design. Another important factor to consider when modifying rims is the size of the wheel. In the past, larger rims were the preferred size. However, the higher cost that comes with the larger rims caused consumer preference to change. The global financial crisis being experienced today also contributed to what may be considered a pendulum shift to the smaller yet sleeker wheels that are now the rage among car owners, especially the younger sets.
Things to Consider Before Changing Rims
Changing rims for cars on a whim can lead to unnecessary expenses and even damage to one’s vehicle or in the worst cases, compromise the safety of the automobile. This is why getting rid of company issued rims must be given more consideration than is usual.
For most car users, the price of the new rims is the primary consideration whether to push through with the modification or not. In these financially hard times, expenses that would not give something in return must be avoided as much as necessary. Hence, when changing rims, comparing prices from different manufacturers or companies is a step that should not be taken for granted. After all, you don’t want to end up spending several hundreds for something that you could easily get at a significantly lower cost without differences in quality.
Another important thing to consider is the safety of the rims when installed in a particular car. There are some wheels that may look good in a particular car but perform poorly when it is put into a driving test. The outer beauty of your rims would be for naught if the wheels will have a negative impact on car handling and overall safety.
In the same vein, wheels that pass the safety test but fail in the aesthetic department should also be avoided, unless you are willing to be the subject of ridicule and become the butt of jokes. Changing your old rims in favor of a new set whose design is not compatible with your car is like buying an ill-fitting shirt, you are better off without it.
Hence, it is advisable to purchase your wheels at reputable manufacturers. Tried and tested manufacturers usually have a collection of wheels that fits not only particular cars but also various personalities of owners. Going only to these manufacturers in good standing will help you avoid the frustrating situation of returning your rims and worse, being forced to go back to the factory wheels that you earnestly tried to get rid of.
Effects of Changing OEM Rims
It is a usual belief that manufacturers consider the effect of each part of the vehicle on its overall performance before it is shipped out of the assembly line. However, in reality, many, if not most, of the stock parts incorporated in a new car is there not because they are the best ones available but more so because they are the cheapest that may be used without failing to make the standards set by regulators. Hence, changing OEM wheels with custom made rims for cars can have a significant effect on the overall performance of the vehicle.
To achieve the desired effect in changing the OEM wheels, however, the projected performance of the vehicle and the resulting chance in appearance must be balanced. It is this balance between performance and appearance that is sometimes lost on owners when they decide to retire their original equipment manufacturer issued wheels for custom made rims for cars. Changing OEM rims is not as simple as it seems because there are technical aspects that should be considered to ensure that the planned changes would not impact negatively the performance of the car.
It is important to know that not all rims, custom wheels especially, will be compatible with every vehicle. Some rims have different bolt arrangements or patterns that may not match a particular car. Hence, it is important to make sure that the measurements of the desired rims are exactly the same with that of the car before you decide to purchase the wheels. Another thing to consider is the offset and backspacing needed for the rims to fit into your car. This part is better left to professionals, making it necessary to deal only with companies who are known to employ competent mechanics.
It is advisable to stick to the same wheel width when you get a new set of rims. Doing so will entail less modification and is also important to maintain the safety standards of your vehicle. Going for bigger wheels could force you to also your tires. However, if you insist on going for bigger wheels, there is no need to worry because most cars have reserved space inside to allow for rims with more width. As long as the offset and spacing processes are carried out correctly, you are assured of getting your desired look while also maintaining, if not improving, the stability, handling, and overall performance of your car.
Final Consideration in Changing Rims
Whether you are changing your rims for performance or aesthetics, remember that the final decision is always with you. Some aftermarket wheel manufacturers can be very persuasive, especially when they are trying to sell you a new product. There is no problem if the wheel they are selling you fits perfectly into your car. The problem arises when they merely forced the issue and your car comes out of the shop looking like Frankenstein and ready for Halloween. Such a disaster is not only emotionally taxing, but also financially draining since having custom rims for cars today can be very expensive.
If your purpose in going for custom rims is to accentuate the look of your car, make sure that the new wheels reflect your personality. Don’t get a new set of wheels merely because they are new, or because the aftermarket wheel manufacturer’s agent thought that it was the best for you. Don’t be afraid of sticking out like a sore thumb when deciding on a new set of rims. That is exactly your purpose in changing wheels—to become unique and not like the rest of the crowd. A little caveat, though. There is a very thin line between having personalized rims and just plain ugly wheels. Perfectly fitted and personalized rims can turn your car into the talk of the town and earn you praises from car enthusiasts and wheel makers alike.
Finally, don’t force the issue. If you are not currently in a position to shell out the extra expenses needed for a custom rim, try to delay your plan for a few months or until you have improved financially. You don’t want to go around town brandishing your new rims with debt collectors chasing after you. Also, some car manufacturers offer deals that give you a chance to change the rims that come with your brand new vehicle. Try to see what the manufacturer can offer. If you find something that reflects your personality, go for it. However, if what the manufacturer is offering is still generic and you feel that you can improve your car’s look and performance with a custom wheel, consult an aftermarket wheel seller and go get the best custom made rims for cars that reflect your personality and attitude.