An Amateur Mechanics Guide to Buying Wheel Rims

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An Amateur Mechanic's Guide to Buying Wheel Rims

The wheel rims on a vehicle provide a great deal of information about a driver's attitude towards their car or motorbike. From time to time, motorists may feel the need to enhance their vehicle and replace the wheel rims with spare parts to provide a new look. Some cars can have problems with the wheel rims that cause extra vibrations or make the car pull in one direction or the other. So, there are a number of factors to consider when looking at new or replacement wheel rims. The most important factor when buying wheel rims is to make sure that they are an appropriate size for the tyres. This is true for both car and motorbike wheel rims. An amateur mechanic should learn the process for replacing the rims. While wheel rims can be purchased from car dealers and garages, eBay has a wide selection and offers competitive prices.

Features of Wheel Rims

When considering changing or replacing wheel rims on a car, it is important to get products that fit the tyres. Wheel rims are made to fit various sizes of tyres and the following table provides information on the sizes available in the United Kingdom.

Tyre Size

Diameter (mm)

Circumference (mm)

Wheel Rim Size Range (cm)

R15

628 to 648

1973 to 2036

14 x 38 to 18 x 38

R16

620 to 642

1948 to 2017

14 x 40.6 to 19 x 40.6

R17

626 to 646

1967 to 2029

14 x 43 to 23 x 43

R18

622 to 638

1954 to 2029

18 x 45.7 to 23 x 45.7

The wheel rim size range has the width of the rim, followed by the diameter. If a driver knows the size of the tyre, then the size of the wheel rim should be easy to find. Some cars have larger tyres for the back than the front.

Wheel Rim Width and Diameter

The size of the rim is usually found on the side of the tyre in a sequence of letters and numbers. The last two digits of the sequence provide the rim diameter, as shown in the table above. The diameter is measured from the lower wheel bead to the upper wheel bead, but does not include the rim flange and lip. Rims must be the exact diameter of the tyre wall in order to fit the tyre. On the other hand, the rim width does not need to be exact, but must be within a few centimetres of the appropriate size. The simplest method of choosing a tyre rim is to use the same width, if it is available. A rim that is a size larger or smaller also fits most tyres.

Number of Studs and Stud Diameter

Wheel rims are attached using studs. So, the wheel rims must match the stud pattern on the car. Some wheel rims allow for two different patterns of studs. The most common number of studs are four, five, six, and eight. The description of a stud pattern indicates the number of studs and the diameter of the bolt circle measured in millimetres. For example, a stud pattern of 6/100 would have six studs with a diameter of 100 millimetres drawn around the stud circle. An amateur mechanic can measure the diameter of the stud pattern easily when there is an even number of studs: it simply involves measuring from one stud to the stud on the opposite side of the circle. Uneven numbers of studs, such as a five stud arrangement, may require a special measuring tool.

How to Replace Wheel Rims on a Car

Replacing the wheel rims on a car tyre is a fairly simple process. If an amateur mechanic can change the tyres, then he or she will be able to change the rims using the following steps.

Prepare the Car

Before removing and installing wheel rims, the car should be lifted hydraulically. Drivers can use a jack to lift one wheel at a time. It is a good idea to release the air from the tyre because that allows the wheel rims to be removed and attached more easily.

Remove the Old Wheel Rim

A socket wrench can be used to loosen the studs that hold the wheel rim in place. The studs should be stored safely because they are used when attaching the new wheel rim. Once the studs have been removed, a tyre lever can be inserted around the rim for removal. Be careful when using the tyre lever because the tube inside the wheel can be punctured or damaged easily.

Attach the New Wheel Rim

Before attaching the new wheel rim, the amateur mechanic should dust inside the tube and tyre with a cloth. Usually, the old studs are applicable to the new rim. However, in some cases, new studs should be purchased to make all of the parts compatible. When tightening the studs, be careful not to damage the hub centric ring of the wheel. The tyre should be reinflated. This process can be repeated for each tyre that is getting a new wheel rim.

Test the Car

After the amateur mechanic has attached a new wheel rim, the car should be taken for a test drive at relatively a low speed. The car should not vibrate or pull to either side. If the car does not perform smoothly, the installation of the new wheel rim may be flawed. Try to reinstall the wheel rims or consult with an experienced mechanic to determine the issue.

Motorbike Wheel Rims

The wheel rims of a motorbike are more integrated than the rims of a car. In general, the wheel rims of a motorbike have 36 or 40 spokes, which are a much heavier gauge than spokes used on a bicycle. At each spoke location, the motorbike's rims are dimpled towards the hub. Holes for the spokes are drilled into the dimples at an angle, which depends upon the pattern used to lace the wheel, the diameter of the hub flanges, and the width of the hub at the flanges. Wheels with conical hubs have different angles on either side of the rim. The rims control spoke tension, which is important because of the torque applied to the wheel by the engine and the disc brake.

Manufacturers of Wheel Rims

While the best choice when considering new wheel rims for a car may be to stick with the same manufacturer as the car, there can be benefits for choosing spare parts. The following list of manufacturers of wheel rims is not complete, but it provides a representative sample of the major manufacturers in the United Kingdom.

Audi Wheel Rims

Audi wheel rims usually have a five stud pattern with at least five or more spokes. Popular finishes for spare part rims include polished, chrome, gun metal, matte black, and hyper silver. Audi wheel rims are cast with a variety of methods, including gravity casting, low pressure casting, and forging. Forging provides the most strength, while gravity casting is the least expensive method.

Renault Wheel Rims

Wheel rims for Renault cars have either a four or five stud pattern. The rims often have a distinct U-shaped pattern that resembles a tree. Renault wheel rims are usually made of steel alloy, although other materials can be used. Wheel rims are usually emblazoned with the Renault diamond symbol.

Toyota Wheel Rims

Toyota is one of the world's largest car manufacturers and originates from Japan. The wheel rims on Toyota cars have four or six stud patterns. The simple pattern of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) wheel rims has the spokes radiating from the centre in straight lines.

Vauxhall Wheel Rims

Vauxhall is a British company that produces cars that are similar to its German sister company, Opel. The wheel rims on Vauxhall cars either have straight lines, like Toyota, or have lines that bridge into V-shaped patterns as they extend from the hub. Most Vauxhall wheel rims have five studs.

Volkswagen Wheel Rims

Volkswagen (VW) is a German car manufacturer that provides many cars to the United Kingdom. The wheel rims of VWs are distinctive because they feature the VW logo at the centre. The company has many designs for its wheel rims, but they often feature wide bands that form small triangles around circumference of the tyre.

How to Buy Wheel Rims on eBay

Once you have decide which wheel rims you need for your car, you can visit eBay to search for the best products at a price that suits your budget. You can access the search engine by typing in the text box found near to the top of most pages. A search for "wheel rims" produces a wide variety of results. You can narrow the results by adding terms to your search, such as the make and model of the car. You can also use the filters to limit the results by features of the product.

Researching Sellers on eBay

To feel comfortable with the person on the other end of the transaction, eBay provides a wealth of information to the buyer. When you are buying a set of wheel rims, you can look at the seller information box found on every product page on eBay. You will see the seller's username and feedback rating. Clicking on the username allows you to see more detailed feedback provided by previous buyers.

Conclusion

When looking to replace the wheel rims on a vehicle, either a car or a motorbike, amateur mechanics have a wide variety of choices to make. They can choose from different styles and features, but should always make sure that the wheel rims have a compatible size, stud number, and stud pattern. Motorbike wheels rims are a little bit different to car wheel rims because the they have spokes that hold the wheel together.

There are many reputable manufacturers of wheel rims, including Audi, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen. By replacing the wheel rims without using a qualified mechanic, an amateur can save money and time. The general process for replacing wheel rims is easy and can be performed by any amateur mechanic on any car. Another great way to save money is to shop on eBay. The site has a great selection of wheel rims at prices that can match any budget.

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