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Car Wheels - The Jewel Of Your Car. Classification and Common Issues

We are sure you take car wheels as a pretty straightforward invention, right? Surprisingly, they are not! While wheels might be the easiest car component to understand, there is nothing simple about them at all. A lot of research has gone into finding the strongest and lightest manufacturing material for your wheels, and as a result, this car part has undergone massive innovation over the years.

In this blog, we will explain the main parts of the car wheels. I will also explain various types of wheels, how companies manufacture, and common issues with them.

But first, the basics.

Wheels are like shoes in your car. The more well-built and compatible they are with your vehicle, the better they will run. They control many of the aspects of your car’s functioning. A good set of car wheels will help you handle your car better and improve fuel efficiency. They are also one of the major modifications you can make to your automobile.

Parts of car wheels:

Car wheels have three main parts:

1. Tyre:
The tyre is the ring-shaped outer covering of a wheel. It is the first thing you notice when you look at a wheel. The tyre is an air-filled rubber ring (called a tread or track) that provides protection and support to the wheel rim. It also absorbs shock and keeps the car safe while driving on bumpy roads and terrains.

The tread of the tyre has notches and groves called the tread pattern. This pattern increases friction between the tyre and the ground, in addition to, helping direct water and other dirt away from the wheel.

The modern pneumatic tyre you see on your car came into existence about 70 years ago. Before this, tyres were rings of solid rubber that did not provide any cushioning.

Tyres come in varied sizes, and to find which one is suitable for your car, you should check the glove box, fuel tank hatch, or inside of your door. You could also know by just checking the tyres currently attached to your vehicle by reading the size on them.

2. Rim:
The rims are like the skeleton of the car wheels, and its key purpose is to give form to it. Since rims withhold the load of a car, good ones are made from durable material. Rims come in various styles, so you have the option to change them for a more stylish look.

Old-generation cars would have tubes inserted between the rim and the tyre, which would hold the air. Modern wheels, you see today, function differently. They just hold the air between the rim and the tyre. For this reason, the rim and tyre are properly attached to prevent air leakages.

3. Hub:
The hub is the part of the wheel that the rim connects with. It has the callipers, rotors, and brake pads, which attach to the axle, help the car move, and stop. The central bore has a removable cap on the outside of the wheel, which covers the inner mechanics. Some recent car wheels designs have spokes that connect the rim to the hub. These spokes add style and structural integrity to the car wheel.

Car wheels classification:

We classify wheels based on several factors such as material, constriction, and assembly.

Classification according to the material:

1. Steel:
Steel wheels were standard for a long time. They were easy to press out of billet steel, and manufacturers could get a sturdy wheel for a low price. The downside of these car wheels is that they are extremely heavy.

Steel wheel - Mercedes Benz - Vintage car


2. Alloy:
These wheels are either a mixture of Aluminium and Nickel or Magnesium and Nickel. Alloy car wheels offer the same durability as steel wheels but weigh lesser. Initially, alloys were costly, but production costs are now much lower, and that made these wheels a new standard.

Alloy wheel - AMG - Mercedes Benz

3. Carbon:
Carbon wheels are the latest of these innovations. They weigh even less than alloys yet have the same tensile strength. Unfortunately, carbon car wheels are extremely pricey and are common in sports cars.

Carbon wheel - Sport Car - Ferrari

Classification according to construction:

There are many types of wheel construction, but only two are commonplace:

1. Cast:
Wheel casting involves pouring molten metal into a mould, which hardens as it cools down. There are two casting methods; the first is gravity casting, in which manufacturers simply pour molten metal into a mould. The other type is low-pressure casting, where the metal gets pushed into the cast quickly and under pressure. The latter removes air bubbles, which could weaken the structure of your car wheels.

2. Forged:
In forging, a single piece of metal gets heated and bent into shape using an enormous amount of force. The design is then cut into the block resulting in a very robust and good-looking wheel. This method is the better of the two because it reduces the grain size of the metal, thereby making them stronger and finer. 

Classification according to assembly:

You’ve probably heard the terms “one-piece,” “two-piece,” and “three-piece” car wheels. The terms refer to the assembly style of a wheel.

1. One-Piece Wheel:
These have only their main wheel and face construction, so their assembly is very simple.

2. Two-Piece Wheel:
Two-piece wheels have two parts: the face and the barrel. Both these connect via bolts that go all around the wheel. These car wheels let race car drivers change bits of the wheel by still using the same mould.

3. Three-Piece Wheel:
The extra piece in a three-piece wheel is a removable front lip. These wheels are also referred to as split rims, and you can customize them to suit your preferences.

Common issues:

Manufacturers create wheels with durability in mind. However, they are not completely immune to damage. The following are some of the most common issues you will face with your car wheels.

Misaligned Wheels:

Your car wheels can lose their alignment due to extreme usage or a collision. The most common tell-tale sign of misaligned wheels is the car pulling to one side or the other.

Wear and Tear:

Like any other car parts, wheels can also wear out due to usage. Moreover, wear in the suspension or replacement of any part in it can lead to misaligned car wheels.

Bent rims:
Steel and alloy wheels can bend with even a light hit to the curb. Steel wheels are easy to fix, but alloy car wheels need more skill. Bent rims will affect your ability to handle the car and might lead to air leakages.

Mercedes Benz - Damaged alloy wheels


Parts shop - different types of car wheels on the shelve

Car wheels are a jewel of your car. You can change them to make your vehicle look better or upgrade them to improve your driving experience. In fact, wheel mods are the first ones that any petrolhead will engage in after buying a new car. Wheels types and styles are based on the material they are made of, their production process, and how they are assembled.

While car wheels are quite sturdy, you could still encounter a few issues with them along the way. Some of the most common ones are bent wheel rims, and wheel alignment issues due to various reasons. Do not ignore these issues, find local garages to check your car wheels and take appropriate action at the right time to stay safe on the road.