Alloy Wheels vs Steel Wheels
For many motorists the wheels on their car help make a statement. But apart from aesthetics, they also play an extremely important part in your safety. The wheels are the interface between your vehicle and the road, and thus anything less than the best wheels possible reduce your vehicle's optimum safety. So if you are choosing new wheels for your car it is important to know what the options are and what benefits or disadvantages may accrues from your choices.
What is the difference between alloy and steel wheels?
Traditionally most car wheels were made of steel. They were durable and looked presentable. But in the world of motor sport this was not enough and alloy wheels are the order of the day. Alloy wheels are different to steel wheels in a number of ways including:
- They are made of an alloy of aluminium or magnesium, and sometimes even both
- They tend to have greater strength compared to weight, than steel wheels
- Alloy wheels have greater heat conduction
- A possible problem is that alloy wheels can be more vulnerable in a fire
- Tuning enthusiasts like them because of their look and connection with motor sport
- Could contribute to improved vehicle handling
Put simply alloy wheels deliver all the strength of steel wheels but with lighter weight, which in turn is always a bonus for performance.
Why choose alloy wheels?
For normal road drivers the benefits of alloy wheels are not significant enough to make a huge difference to the driving experience. They are a technology born out of the motor sport environment, where saving every gram in weight is precious. However for true motoring enthusiasts, they are persuasive. Good alloy wheels make a visual statement, and this is important for many people who take motoring seriously. The benefits in weight reduction can also be relevant for more performance oriented vehicles and especially those that may do a little track work from time to time. On track, lighter alloy wheels contribute to a lower unspring mass, contributing to improved handling performance.
Choosing alloy or steel wheels
Ultimately your choice of wheel type will depend on your individual aesthetics and your motoring aspirations. Alloy wheels tend to be more expensive so that will be a consideration for many, but if you want to have the ultimate driving experience there may be a compelling argument for it. No matter what you choose, make sure you research the options because you may be pleasantly surprised by the enormous choices available.