A good set of wheels can make a huge difference to how your car looks. In fact many people choose wheels for the sole reason of making a statement with their vehicle. Apart from the aesthetic decision there are some major differences between steel wheels and alloy wheels, which have implications for durability and maintenance.
What is the difference between alloy and steel wheels?
For a long time most privately owned cars had steel wheels. These are durable and functional. However, mainly due to the car racing and tuning industry, alloy wheels have started to become very popular. They are generally made of an alloy of aluminium or magnesium, or sometimes both. They prove ideal for racing because of their lighter weight in proportion to strength, provide better heat conduction and could contribute to better handling of the vehicle.
Maintaining your car's wheels
A well maintained set of wheels will be vital to making your car look its best. There are a number of basics to keep in mind including:
- Before you install your new wheels make sure they have a coat of wax. This will help them retain their new look, longer.
- Wash your wheels regularly to prevent buildup of dirt and brake dust.
- Use warm soapy water, and if needed tar and bug remover.
- Never use abrasives such as steel wool or polishing compounds.
- Be wary of drive through car washes. They can use acidic liquids to help remove dirt and stuff brushes which may scratch your wheels.
- Never use hot steam cleaning, as this can also damage the finish on your wheels.
- Never clean your wheels when they are still hot from driving as the water will evaporate too quickly leaving soap streaking.
- Wash your wheels one at a time to ensure you do a thorough, detailed job.
- Use a different sponge on your wheels to the one you use on your car's bodywork.
In order to maintain a great looking appearance, it is worth maintaining and cleaning your wheels regularly, especially since they may also represent a considerable financial investment.
Avoid contact with the kerb
Alloy wheels typically have very little resistance to kerb scuffing and can become damaged easily in parking mishaps. Once you have a new set of alloy wheels it is strongly recommended to park with care and avoid the kerb at all costs. Alternately if you are worried about kerb scuffing there are products available on the market that can be applied to the wheel to protect the wheel from the kerb.
If you follow the tips above you will maintain the appearance of your car's wheels as well as assist them in lasting longer. Since wheels often represent a large financial outlay and can be a highly personal expression of the statement' the owner wants to make, it is worth spending a little extra time on cleaning them. Always treat them with respect, and your car will continue to look great for a long time regardless of whether the wheels are steel or alloy.