by Kyle Waller
Alloy vs. Steel Wheel Rims
The Right Rims
Drivers must always keep the upkeep of their tires and rims in mind. Demands for great quality rims as well as a market trend for appealing alloy and chrome rims are constantly changing. While the battle between alloy and steel rims goes on, here is a brief description of both that will give you a better idea of what drivers use where the car meets the road.
Nothing looks better on a new car than a set of alloy wheels. The shiny finish and unnoticed tires give a sleek and polished look to any car. Unfortunately, nothing is more vulnerable to theft, abuse and wear and tear from the road than a set of alloy wheels and thin tires. According to the LA Times Auto, a pounding from a pothole can bend a rim or chink off a few inches of the rim lip. Other problems arise when parking too close to the curb. Driving up on a curb will easily scratch these thousand dollar rims. A driver can replace the damaged wheel with an identical design, pick up one that doesn’t match, buy an entire new set of wheels or repair the damaged wheel.
Buying a rim that doesn’t match the others is tacky and should never be done unless you’re going for the two-and two look in which case you still have to match at least one other rim. There are, however, some repair companies that specialize in restoring any damaged alloy wheel back to excellent quality.
Transwheel Corp, which describes itself as the largest alloy repair vendor in the United States, handles more than 150,000 wheel repairs annually, according to its website. The cost ranges from $130 to $300 per wheel depending on various qualities such as type, size and year. Under company guidelines, they will remove up to 20 thousandths of an inch of material in a resurfacing repair.
Although alloy rims have become the craze, steel wheels are still dependable when it comes to vehicle maintenance. During the year, wheels are subject to much damage and abuse by road conditions and weather. Steel wheels do much better in the winter season than alloy rims. They also meet the basic needs of drivers who want the convenience of a winter tire package without the additional cost of an alloy wheel, according to TireRack.com.
Also, while many must paint their alloy rims after purchase, steel wheels are not the most fashionable and are therefore available in black or silver finish and basic styling can be updated with wheel covers. On the negative side, steel is not a good conductor of heat, so the heat is usually focused on the brakes, which means the brake system will have to be maintained much more frequently.
While alloy wheels are fragile and inconvenient when damaged, steel wheels cost less due to high manufacturing and low material costs. Although steel wheels can be heavier than alloy wheels, most of these wheels are actually smaller than their alloy counterparts.
Alloy rims are simply a complement to the appearance of a vehicle while steel rims are meant for durability. Cheap alloy rims are not corrosion resistant and can be easily damaged by crushed stones, road conditions and road salt during the winter months. This is why manufacturers and suppliers have recently begun offering special winter rims that are highly impact and scratch resistant. Steel wheels can weigh down the car, depending on the style and can cause brake damage due to the heat buildup.
So if you’re looking for what’s trendy and in style, alloy rims may be the choice for you provided you keep them clean and safe. If you just want your car to be free to move, steel is the best choice, but you’ll have a less attractive car and some not-so-shiny wheels.
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THAT'S ALL FOLKS... Thanks for having the time and patience to read this blog entry.