Picking the right truck wheels isn’t just a matter of finding one that fits and mounting them. There are but a few basic types of truck wheels to choose from yet aligning them with your needs and aims will be the hardest part.
Your goal for your truck, whatever it may be, should be laid out perfectly; be it for taking on the most rugged of terrains or simply showing of your sweet ride to the rest of the neighborhood. The best thing to do here is to map out the primary utility of your vehicle. It doesn’t hurt to write down these things especially when you are unsure about it. Try to single out one or two main goals with regard to the usage of your truck and build your choice around it.
To help you make your decision, here is a list of the three kinds of truck wheels you should be familiar with and a comparison of each one.
1. Steel Wheels
Like the name suggests, these bad boys are made of heavy duty steel. They are a bit heavier and bulkier than the cast and forged types of truck wheels. However, what they lack in subtlety they make up for in sheer durability. These wheels are made for off-road terrain and rugged trails. Steel truck wheels are made through stamped construction meaning that their compositions are constant and equal which also make them less prone to shaking and wobbling.
- DURABILITY AND STRENGTH- If you’re the outdoorsman type and just enjoy the thrill of bumpy rides, then the meatiness of these wheels would do you well. Cast or forged wheels may not withstand much of the harshness of rocky or uneven ground. The previously mentioned wheels are mostly made out of aluminum or other types of alloys which are more malleable than steel making them more prone to breaking, cracking and chipping. Steel on the other hand has reduced chanced in being bent, dented or punctured. Its craggy-built would ease you through dirt roads, rocky paths and other cruel topography.
- CONSISTENCY- The process of stamped construction by which a steel wheel is built gives them uniform compositions. This adds to its strength as a feature for an off-road type of truck. The symmetry of their designs makes them more reliable for driving steadily, not to mention, safely. This characteristic of wheels is known as its structural integrity which defines the smoothness of each drive.
- ENDURANCE AND COST- The particles that make up steel are tightly compact thus they are more resistant to foreign elements like dirt and sand. Alloy wheels in comparison are porous and particles such as the ones previously mentioned will wear them down easily. As an added perk, you won’t find yourself needing to replace steel wheels regularly. Moreover, these kinds of wheels are the cheapest to manufacture thus making them the friendliest for those with tight budgets.
2. Cast Wheels
Next up are cast wheels which are made up of aluminum alloy. They are lightweight and lustrous making them perfect for show-trucks and those who like speed. Behind this feature is the process of low-pressure cast construction where different metal compounds are melded together to create a lightweight yet durable mixture. This process makes these truck wheels porous thus letting heat pass through quickly especially in fast-paced driving and constant brake application.
- FLEXIBILTY AND DESIGN- The low-pressure casting process of cast alloy wheels make them more flexible thus giving more room for creating various designs and structures for your wheels. Customized wheels pack that extra punch as far as aesthetics is concerned. You probably see the various innovative styles that shown in car shows on television and other media. The malleability of cast wheels makes them the right choice for showmen and those with a taste for style.
- COOL-DOWN AND SPEED- The compounds that make up cast wheels are porous thus making them lightweight. This attribute also lets air pass through them much more easily. This feature is for speedsters who like to burn rubber on the road. The aluminum alloy cools down quickly thus withstanding the heat and deterioration caused by heavy breaking. Steel tires, in comparison, are limited to travelling in lesser speeds because of heavier weight and the kind of terrain they are built for.
- RUST RESISTANCE AND SHINE- Like most alloy materials, cast wheels are stainless. These make cleaning a breeze and a shiny non-tarnishing finish. Again, this set of cast truck wheels would appeal to those who are, more or less, visually-inclined. If you like to keep your ride looking new, then cast wheels are the ones for you.
3. Forged Wheels
Forged wheels are like hybrids of steel and cast wheels. They retain the same strength and durability of the former while keeping the lightness and shine of the latter. These truck wheels are for those who are aiming for and an extremely versatile ride that would fare well in zipping through roads as well as conquering rough environments. A premium set for the well-rounded trucker (who is also willing to spend a few extra bucks).
- LIGHTWEIGHT- Forged wheels are still made from aluminum alloy but employ a different production technique. The process involves applying high levels of heat and pressure to produce lightweight yet superbly durable wheels. The extreme conditions in which the alloy compounds are put under increases the produced wheel’s density, meaning they can be made into less bulkier sets while retaining their strength. They go well for driving fast on roads and even for driving up slopes, hills and other tilted terrain.
- STRENGTH- Forged wheels offers almost the same level of strength their steel counterparts. Its edge on the other hand still lies in its combination with the previous feature—its light weight. Maneuverability is not sacrificed in forged wheels especially when it comes to rough roads and grounds. Forged wheels can also take a beating and compared with cast wheels, they do not chip or break easily after hard impacts (although they are both made of aluminum alloy compounds).
- VERSATILTY- Forged wheels lets you have the best of both worlds in one package. You could drive from a rocky plateaus and go straight to whizzing through a highway. The shine and rust-resistant features are still there as well. Indeed, a premium set for any serious truck owner.
To make it easier to make your decision, here is a table where you could weigh down your options based on the main concerns and factors in choosing the right truck wheels.
|Material||Heavy-Duty Steel||Aluminum Alloy||Aluminum Alloy|
|Production||It is made through stamped construction.
It means that the wheels have a consistent composition and are thus less vulnerable to wobbling.
|It is made through low-pressure casting.
It means that the wheels thus flexible and malleable, giving way for more designs.
|It is made through the application of high levels of heat and pressure.
It means that the wheels are both lightweight and durable.
|Strength and Durability||Excellent durability due to its relatively heavier set.
Less malleable compounds makes it resistant to wear and tear.
|Stainless, rust-resistant and shiny wheels.
Easy to clean, although cannot bear extreme off-road environments.
|Its production creates a dense alloy that is tough, lightweight and lustrous.|
|Utility||Tough wheels for tough terrain.
Perfect for off-road terrain.
Withstands harsh environments and elements.
|Its lightweight makes it perfect for fast-paced driving.||Basically a hybrid of the previous two, it is extremely versatile.
It has both speed and ruggedness.
The easy choice for those with tight budgets.
|Wide price range that depends on brands, designs and sizes.||A bit expensive yet worth every penny.|
It is always best to keep safety in mind especially in a vehicle such as the truck. It is basic knowledge that trucks themselves are built more than just as a mode of transport. They are created for safely carrying great weights across long distances.
With this in mind, truck wheels along with all its other parts should always have good quality. Even after choosing which set of wheels will best suit your usage and lifestyle, the next thing is to choose those that are safe and reliable. How then do you ensure this quality? When purchasing new truck wheels, make sure that they meet Federal safety standards. This is the grading system the government uses to test the quality and performances of vehicle parts. Trucks go through a series of tests to rate their performance and grades are assigned to each of them. The tests basically have three measures of grading: Treadwear, Traction and Temperature Resistance. Treadwear refers to the life of a wheel. For example, a wheel rated 100 will last twice as long as one that is rated 50. Traction shows how much grip a wheel has. It measures how well it could be controlled and how it fares in stopping on wet roads. Temperature Resistance tells how fast a wheel heats up during accelerating speed. An A grade represents the best performance in this test.
A few extra bucks could be the thin line between a safe vehicle and a dangerous hunk of metal. But fret not; there are major discounts you could avail to. Just ask for good deals and packages from friends and professional retailers. You could even search online. A little research goes a long way.
After you’ve got your wheels on, it’s always a must to clean and maintain them regularly. More than just issues of cleanliness, unmaintained truck wheels pose several dangers to drivers and pedestrians alike. Here are a few tips in washing your wheels.
- Clean them at least once a week or anytime dirt or anytime any other stuff have accumulated in them.
- Soap and water usually gets the job done for your regular scrubbing.
- When they get to dirty though, you may have to use cleaning solutions to get them off. Wheels made of chrome or aluminum alloy have special solutions that help bring back the shine in them.
- Avoid using steel brushes because they tend to damage the rims by scarring their surfaces. Opt for a nylon or plastic brush for scrubbing muck off your truck.
- After washing off the rubber and the rims, you may apply polishes to maintain than luster in your wheels. Be careful though, some polishes may not work well for different types of wheels. It’s better to use the ones recommended for the kind of truck wheels you have.
- Use soft cloth to apply the polish, and do so in a circular motion. Rough cloth may scathe your rims.
But sometimes, it just can’t be avoided for your wheels to get tarnished (especially for the aluminum alloy ones). So here are a few basic steps in bringing back the glimmer in corroded alloy wheels.
- Remove the wheel from the truck and lay it down on a flat surface. Better put it on some newspapers or what have you because you can be sure that things are going to get messy.
- Get some sandpaper; usually the 320-grit would get the job done. Wet it down, wrap it around a sanding block and continue on by running it all over the aluminum parts. Remember to wet the sand paper every so often and replace it when it gets worn down. Repeat this until you even out the surface of the whole piece. Don’t worry if it’s gritty or has scratches, it’s supposed to be that way.
- Repeat step 2 using increasingly finer sand paper. The goal is to remove all the grittiness until you get that even shine.
- Rinse the whole thing off and try it using a soft cloth. Next step is to apply aluminum polish to your wheel. Make sure to get all the imperfections out, as well as, to spread it evenly all throughout. Pretty soon, your truck wheels will look brand new!
So there you have it, the basic on choosing your truck wheels. To recap, first you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the type of wheels and find out which of them fits your practice. Next is to ponder on the safety standards in choosing your wheels. Last, is to observe the basic guidelines in maintaining them. Follow these brief manual and you’ll have your wheel lasting as long as the truck itself. Good luck Trucker!