There is a common question that often plagues the minds of both car owners and aspiring car owners alike. This question has often been just how important is a wheel to a car? The other closely related question is what’s more important, the wheel or the tire? Or which of the two should be more stylish. Well, the answers to these questions could be correlated or totally unrelated, it all depends on what exactly you would like to get out of these two important car accessories.
First things first, a wheel is the metallic portion around which a tire is wrapped. In other words, there can never be a car tire without a wheel. Ironically though, it is the term tire that is commonly used to describe the combination of the two.
Tires serve to reduce transmission of road shocks by providing a cushion between the vehicle and the road. The contoured surface of the tire also provides the friction necessary for the movement of the vehicle. Rubber is the most common material used during the manufacture of tires though a combination of other materials can equally work well. However, for the avoidance of doubt, let’s try and put a little focus on the wheel as a component of the tire and while at it we can keep the tire in the rear view mirror, just to remind ourselves how the two complement each other. Here are some of the necessary features of a wheel:
i. A wheel generally needs to be strong enough to provide adequate support to the vehicle. All the forces associated with the operation of the vehicle are supported by the wheel
ii. On the flip side, a wheel needs to be light. Sounds mechanically unbalanced but this is where the issue of metal used comes in. it’s all about keeping the un-sprung weight to a bare minimum.
Aluminum is known to excellently combine strength and light weight to achieve the desired support to the vehicle. In addition, aluminum is also a better conductor of heat and by easily dissipating heat from the tires and brakes, it is considered to be a better material for the manufacture of wheels compared to steel. This is especially the case in aluminum alloy wheels.
iii. Another important aspect of a wheel is the ventilation holes. The flange (mid-section) of the wheel is usually lined with holes for ventilation. This is important for circulation of air to the brakes.
iv. Drop center design: this is an optional design for wheels but usually necessary for passenger car wheels. The design facilitates fitting and removal of the wheel whenever need arises. It is however important to note that tire fitting and removal should always be done in accordance with the manufacturers manual.
It is important for a driver to understand these important features in order to make an informed decision when buying a car.