Car wheel rims have become considerably more elaborate and distinctive over the past twenty years. In the past, decorative alloy rims were an expensive optional feature and considered to be an upgrade to a car. Like power windows, their popularity has increased to the point where they are no longer exceptional. Alloy rims are superior to steel: they are stronger, lighter, and more effective heat dissipators. These features have pushed them to the forefront of the car industry. The most durable wheel rims create a noticeable improvement in steering and handling, along with an improved brake life.
Many new cars are still produced with traditional steel rims, with the addition of decorative plastic or chrome trims. The edges of these rims are damaged easily, especially when the tyres are under inflated. For example, they are easily scratched and cracked simply by coming into contact with the curb. As a consequence, there is a significant market for replacements. While the steel rim still has its place, the most durable and attractive rims are produced from refined alloys that offer enhanced performance and a sportier look. If the goal is durability, then it is important to understand the origins of today's rims, how they are constructed, their dimensions, and whether to purchase them new or used. A range of wheel rims are available from garages and online at eBay.
Origins of Wheel Rims
Originally, car wheel assemblies consisted of three separate parts. The hub was the innermost part attached directly to the axle and progressing outward with spokes to the rim that supported the tyre. These wheels were similar to present-day bicycle wheels. Most modern car wheels have evolved into a single cast or forged piece, although there are still spoked versions. In general terminology, a wheel is a basic or non-decorative form and is designed to be covered by a hubcap or trim. A rim is defined as a more elaborate and self-contained feature. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of overlap between the terms. The discussion that follows differentiates between steel wheel rims and alloy wheel rims only.
Types of Wheel Rims
There are two basic types of wheel rims: steel and alloy. Steel wheel rims are the most practical and come as standard with many cars. Alloy wheel rims are more durable.
Steel Wheel Rims
The most practical of all, steel wheel rims have come a long way since they were first developed. The modern versions are made from sheet metal that is rolled into a cylinder with the ends welded together. Another round piece of sheet metal is stamped out and joined to the centre of the cylinder to provide the hub or mounting section. Steel rims are usually finished with black paint. Steel wheel rims are less expensive than alloys because the production costs are low, so an economical rim can be produced for the mass production of lower priced cars.
Alloy Wheel Rims
The most common base material for alloy wheel rims is aluminium with different metals added depending on the manufacturer. However, there are several ways that the finished rim can be produced. The terms "casting" and "forging" are often used interchangeably, but have very different meanings and properties.
Gravity Casting for Alloy Wheel Rims
The process of casting refers to using moulds to create uniform products, in this case made of metal. The cast produces a single piece that fuses the hub, the spoke-like connections, and rim into one. Gravity casting is the least expensive and most basic form. Molten aluminium flows into the mould, using gravity as the only force. Gravity casted rims are often larger and heavier because there is less density than with alternative types. An advantage is that they are also usually less expensive to produce, resulting in more affordable prices.
Low-Pressure Casting for Alloy Wheel Rims
Rather than relying on gravity alone to transfer the molten aluminium, low pressure systems apply force to create more density. This is the most common method of casting used for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market and spare parts production, as it essentially duplicates the original manufacturing specification. These rims are more expensive than gravity alternatives, but are stronger and less likely to show imperfections associated with small pockets of air in the mould.
Rim Rolling or Spun-Rim Technology for Alloy Wheel Rims
Rim rolling is a hybrid technology that combines the properties of casting and forging with a final cost settling between the two. The molten alloy is first cast, then heated and spun using centrifugal force to increase density of the metal at the outer tyre's contact surface. It provides many of the benefits of forging at a lower cost, including a lighter weight and greater strength.
Forging for Alloy Wheel Rims
Forged rims have the highest production cost and purchase price. The process uses extreme pressure, expensive equipment, and exact tolerances to produce the finest rims for demanding manufacturers and buyers. The result is the lightest, yet strongest and most durable wheel rims available. The final cosmetic touches and bolt hole cuttings are computerised for precision. Forged wheel rims are perfectly balanced and can be expected to far outlast any car that incorporates them. The value of these rims also makes them a prime target for theft, so it is a good idea to use locking wheel nuts for any significant tyre or rim upgrade.
Dimensions of Wheel Rims
It is vital that the sizing for both the rim and the tyre is identical. The rims should be compatible with the type of driving to which the car is to be subjected. Weight is a significant factor, as the vehicle's suspension was engineered for a specific rim and tyre combination. Any substantial change can have a drastic effect on handling and how effectively the suspension performs. Contact the manufacturer or a professional garage before making any alterations.
Understanding the Tyre Code
Tyres and rims are measured according to their diameter and width. The diameter is relatively straightforward. It is measured in inches and is usually indicated by the last two numbers moulded onto the tyre. For example, the tyre code 185/60R/15H indicates that the tyre is 185 millimetres wide; the profile, or distance from the tread to the rim, is 60 per cent of the width or 111 millimetres; and the rim diameter is 15 inches.
Wheel Spacers for Wheel Rims
Buyers occasionally find attractive rims that just do not quite fit the shaft of the axle. One easy solution is to use wheel spacers. These spacers attach directly to the wheel mount of the car to compensate for rims that are not quite wide enough.
Wheel Rim Plus Sizing
Plus sizing refers to the process of upgrading to rims with a larger diameter than those provided as original components. Motorists choose plus sized rims not just for aesthetic reasons, but because they result in more responsive steering and they enable the car to hold the road better: smaller volume tyres use less air at higher pressures for better traction. The disadvantage is a stiffer ride that is not always offset with adjustments to the suspension.
Naturally, this change also demands a change in tyres, since the diameter must remain the same as the car's original combination. Any variation of more than three per cent can affect the shift points of the transmission, which in turn affects fuel consumption. There can be added effects on braking computers with the possible outcome of brake failure.
Bolt Patterns of Wheel Rims
Buyers should consider the bolt pattern of wheel rims before making a purchase. Unfortunately, it is not just a matter of noting how many bolts there are for each wheel. It is also important to know the exact spacing. A bolt pattern number of "4 x 100" indicates there are four bolts. The diameter of an imaginary circle drawn through the centre of each bolt would be 100 millimetres. Buyers must check the owner's manual before ordering wheel rims to ensure that the dimensions are correct.
New vs. Used Durable Wheel Rims
Top quality durable wheel rims have an indefinite life expectancy. Weatherproof rims with no moving parts survive long after most of the other parts of the car have worn out or become rusty. As a result, there is a significant market for used durable wheel rims, and their associated parts and accessories. They can often be purchased for much less than their original price. Buyers who want to save money may benefit from considering used durable wheel rims.
Buying the Most Durable Wheel Rims on eBay
The eBay home page is where most people begin looking for the most durable wheel rims. There is a user-friendly search tool on every eBay page to simplify the process of finding exactly what you want. For instance, try entering the term, "Toyota wheel rims", into the field provided. You arrive at a page with listings of all the wheel rims available. You may choose to narrow the search based on price, new or used condition, or features of the car. Take a few minutes to read eBay's search tips for additional searching techniques.
Seller Feedback on eBay
A major advantage of eBay is the option to learn about the seller before making a purchase. All sellers have their feedback displayed, which is provided by previous buyers to give you an idea of how other transactions were completed. Look for the Top-rated seller ribbon that denotes a strong history of reliable selling. In addition, you can contact the seller directly if you would like additional information or more photographs.
Although updated production methods are creating steel rims that are far superior to those of the past, the most durable wheel rims are those produced from aluminium alloys. It is easy to upgrade from steel to alloy simply by making certain that the sizes are the same. Forged alloy wheel rims are at the top of the price scale due to the intricacy of their manufacturing process, which uses the finest alloys available.
With the wide variety of choices available, eBay is an excellent place to view the full range of the most durable wheel rims. Searching on eBay allows motorists to find an exact match as there are so many sellers under one roof. The extraordinary competition between sellers on eBay means that the site offers some of the best prices, which serves the buyer well. It is easy find the most durable wheel rims, simply by logging on, doing a search, and making the purchase without ever leaving the comfort of home.