Car tyres are mounted on rims. There are two types: aluminium (light metal) or steel wheels. Does it really matter?
Let’s get right to the point. When we talk about cast discs, weight is usually considered a huge plus. The claim that “cast wheels are lighter than steel wheels and thus have a better impact on ride quality” is currently irrelevant. Of course, the main component of aluminium is lightweight metal, and it is not as heavy as steel. However, thanks to modern technology, the walls of steel discs are very thin and the difference in weight is barely noticeable. When an aluminium disc is combined with a large or wide tyre, the issue of weight is relegated to the background. There are, of course, exceptions: very, very expensive cast aluminium wheels with magnesium in their composition and carbon fibre wheels with carbon fibre are ultra-thin, but very expensive for frequency use. These tyres are generally used in motor sport.
Additional parameters when choosing tyres
A steel disk made of rolled steel is a standard part, especially in small cars. Steel rims often consist of two parts, the rim itself and the wheel rim. The parts are welded together so that heat or load cannot damage the joints. Cast rims are often poured in one piece and then painted. If the disc consists of two parts (the rim bottom and the rim base), they are screwed together. Another metal, such as iron, is added to the disc to increase stability for those who find aluminum too soft. In this way, it is correct to call the cast discs “aluminium alloy discs”.
Everyone who drives frequently on dirt roads is advised to use steel discs. This material is more durable than light metal. Road salt only damages the discs visually, the steel structure remains unchanged. If a disc is hit hard by the roadside, it can usually be repaired easily. Although the steel will rust, it will only affect the surface of the rim and will not affect the ride quality. Such rust can be easily removed. Cast discs, however, are much more vulnerable to sand, dirt and road salt. When the disc hits slightly, visible scratches appear on the surface. If liquid gets into these scratches, the disc corrodes and becomes unstable. A deep puncture may cause serious damage to the molded disc. Repairing molded discs is a little more difficult or sometimes even impossible. There is an alternative for those who like molded discs: stronger molded winter discs, which can be purchased for an extra fee. However, these models cannot compete with the stability of steel wheels at the moment.
Steel disks are cheaper than aluminum ones. If you do not want to give up cast discs, but you are limited in budget, you can consider supported discs. When buying used castings, make sure you do not buy damaged discs. It is also important to know if there are any surface scratches. These marks are usually clearly visible on used molded discs. Their absence indicates possible defect hiding and straightening.
New or used, aluminum or steel: it is worth comparing prices.
When it comes to appearance, cast discs always look better. Painted, polished, matte, sometimes with chrome parts, the cast discs are undoubtedly much more beautiful. Cast discs can also be bought in different colors – silver, black, multi-colored or to match the color of the car. Aluminum disks can make even the most ordinary family car stylish and throwing. Not very attractive steel disks can at best be decorated with various plastic tires.
Now let’s talk more about it:
Cast drives are more affordable than forged drives. They are manufactured by casting from several metals and do not require any further processing afterwards. Aluminium is traditionally used as the main component in cast rims. That’s why they are also called aluminium rims.
Manufacturers constantly develop various variants of disks, therefore casting is presented in the greatest assortment, besides:
- the rims are resistant to chemical reagents;
- excellent heat dissipation from the brake unit;
- with quality tyres it is possible to do without balancing;
After installing the cast wheels, the inertness of the car improves, the car accelerates faster and brakes better. This is a consequence of the lighter weight. After all, compared to steel, they are 30-40 percent lighter. However, such disks also have a weak side – brittleness. After hitting a small hole, cracks may form. It is necessary to restore such rim, but it is not necessary to speak about reliability after repair.
Steel drives are among the most popular of all the above. They weigh the most and have no exquisite design. However, it is possible to brighten up the stamped appearance. They are made of plastic hoods, which are easy to install and can be in different shapes and colors. From afar they resemble forged or light alloy wheels.
The advantages of steel discs include their affordability and maintainability. After all, because of poor quality coating, this very element of the wheel next after the tires takes over the blow. The metal of a rim is often deformed, but considerably reduces mechanical influence on a running gear of a car. This fact is an undeniable plus.
Steel rims for a small fee are corrected on any tire fitting. This procedure can take place several times, after which they are ready for installation again.
When selecting a set, the purpose of the car should be taken into account. If it is used by professional drivers or is produced in a limited edition, stop with professional forged wheels. Light alloy wheels are suitable for everyday use. Having an iron kit in stock is also not superfluous. It all depends on preferences and financial possibilities.
The choice between aluminium and steel wheels is a personal choice for each driver. Both models have their pros and cons, which each driver considers for himself. Cheap and reliable or beautiful and slightly more expensive? If you want to combine all the features, you can put beautiful aluminum wheels for summer and replace them with more stable steel wheels in winter.