Aftermarket Alloy Wheels
Often referred to as ‘mag wheels’ from the days where aftermarket wheels were made from Magnesium, today’s alloy wheels are made from Aluminium which is cheaper, stronger and safer.
When your vehicle was being designed, the manufacturer specified a wheel design to meet the vehicle requirements and the load it was intended to carry.
Quite often, factory wheels are a subtle design intended to appeal to a wide variety of owners and are a balance of looks, weight and conservative sizes, as cheaper tyres are appealing to most consumers.
Reasons to upgrade
There are many reasons to upgrade from your factory wheels.
Often, upgrading to aftermarket wheels will improve the style of your vehicle and make it stand out. Lightweight wheels can improve performance.
In the event of an accident or collision, it can be cheaper to buy a replacement set of aftermarket wheels than to purchase a genuine replacement rim.
Sizes, diameters and widths
Wheels come in different stud patterns, diameters and widths, as well as varying offsets.
In Australia, there are regulations on how far you can modify the sizes of your wheels compared to the factory fitted items and still remain legal.
The choice to change to a larger diameter wheel, or a wider wheel is generally dictated by the vehicle, the desired style and even the type of tyre you wish to use.
Types of aftermarket alloy wheels
Automotive wheels can be made from a variety of materials, finishes and manufacturing techniques.
Cast alloy wheels
Cast alloy wheels are as the name implies, molten metal poured, injected or drawn into a mould and cast into the rough shape required for that wheel design. From here the casting is removed from the mould and goes through several machining and finishing processes to turn into the wheels you can see in our showroom.
The benefits of cast designs are that they are much cheaper to manufacture than other production techniques, however, they are more likely to crack in the event of an accident or collision.
The process of casting metals means that the grain structure of the metal is shorter and more erratic. Meaning the metal has less strength, all things considered.
Forged Alloy wheels
Forged alloy wheels are constructed in a very different way, where a billet of an alloy is formed under immense pressure using hydraulic presses.
Using this method of manufacturing results in much longer grain structure inside the wheel, allowing wheel designs to be thinner and lighter while not sacrificing strength.
The downside of forged wheels is the cost. Forging requires extremely large and expensive equipment, as well as the sheer number of steps needed to produce a finished product. Whilst this results in a very strong wheel, it can cost up to three or four times what a comparable cast design will.
Forged wheels will have more of a tendency to bend and deform, rather than crack in the event of an accident or collision, making a wheel failure less catastrophic for you, but no easier on your wallet.
Flowforming is a process that takes the best of both manufacturing techniques and combines them to make a wheel that is both strong, light and priced somewhere between a cast and fully forged wheel.
Flowformed wheels have a cast disc (or face) and are then placed on a heated mandrel, where the barrel of the wheel is forged between dies to bring the wheel to the correct shape. This means that the part of the wheel that is traditionally damaged the easiest, the inner lip, is of forged construction and therefore much stronger and lighter.
Other manufacturing techniques
There are many other methods of manufacturing wheels too.
Simple and durable, most steel wheels have pressed centers, roll-formed barrels and welded together.
Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon and results in wheels that are typically cheap, heavy, easily repaired if damaged and widely available.
Multi Piece Wheels
As the name implies, multi piece wheels are made of multiple pieces that are bolted or welded together. Generally these wheels can use a combination of materials and manufacturing techniques. It is common to see cast alloy faces with forged and rolled barrels and outer lips.
Carbon Fiber/composite wheels
Some specialty companies, one-off concept vehicles and racecars are shod with hand laid carbon fiber wheels. Ludicrously expensive and impossible to repair when damaged, you’re unlikely to see carbon fiber become a common material for wheels on street driven vehicles.
The latest technology on the block is 3D printing. Hugely expensive and largely experimental, this technology allows for designs that were previously impossible to manufacture. Expect 3D printing technology to become cheaper and more commonplace as more and more items we use daily are able to be 3D printed.
Wheel and tyre upgrades made easy.
No matter the reason for an aftermarket wheel, the experts at Donnellans can source and fit a massive range of quality wheels to suit your vehicle. Whether you drive a Japanese import, a classy Euro, or a tough off-road rig, we are able to mix it up with a wheel and tyre package tailored to your unique requirements.
Contact your nearest store today at the link below.