Care of your alloy wheels

By Jamie

Do you have these issues with your wheels?

When it comes to our cars, one element that needs constant attention is the wheels.

Helping the car move, while keeping you safe, the wheels are one of the vehicle’s most important elements. While there are many types of wheels, the main two have caused debate amongst car lovers, but which is better? And what issues could these tyres experience that you should know about? We explore below.

Steel vs. alloy

While the debate over alloy and steel wheels continues, there’s no clear winner, with the preference tending to be personal.

Alloy wheels are more common if you’re buying a new car. The material enables a variety of different finishes, which is better for customisation, and with being lighter can help to improve performance. In fact, it’s been said that lighter alloy wheels allow for better handling, acceleration and performance.

However, they can provide a lack of cushion on low profile tyres, resulting in damage if you hit potholes or curbs.

Meanwhile, steel wheels are significantly stronger, which provides more cushion against any bumps you may have – sometimes offering a smoother ride. But the heavy material adds additional weight to the car, impacting acceleration and agility while lowering the car’s centre of gravity – giving it a heavier feel while driving.

With all this said, if any wheel is hit hard enough, it can become damaged and in turn damage the car if not attended to. Below, you’ll find a number of issues that affect your wheels if they aren’t cared for correctly – regardless of them being alloy or steel.

Corrosion

When you think of corrosion, you may think about it making your tyres look bad – but it’s much more than an appearance issue.

This can affect alloy wheels due to the exposure they receive to road salt, moisture and over-aggressive cleaning, which wears away the clear-coat paint finish. When it comes to steel wheels, while they may be protected by plastic wheel covers, dirt, brake dust and moisture can build up underneath, causing them to rust. It’s important to note that steel is more susceptible to corrosion than aluminium as they have fewer layers of lacquer on them.

If wheels aren’t regularly checked or cleaned, then corrosion can build and spread to other areas such as the axle hubs, wheel studs and inside the tyres. This can lead to your tyres deflating, or worse, you could lose control of the car while driving.

Physical

Although not as serious as corrosion, there are other forms of damage that are more cosmetic, such as discolouration, which can occur over time if tyres aren’t looked after.

Aside from this, more serious physical damage can include scrapes and cracks from potholes or curbing the wheel. While these don’t look nice, on the whole, you’ll probably be able to continue driving without worry. But they can lead to other issues, such as disrupting the alignment of the car. Therefore, you should get them checked out to prevent issues from getting worse, which could result in a new tyre.

Cracks and punctures

If you’re someone who’s looking to change the size of their tyres, there are things you should know.

As you increase the size of your wheel, the diameter of the tyre has to shrink by an equal amount. This is to maintain clearance and stop the tyre from hitting the wheel well, brakes and suspension. However, this can cause problems, because the larger the wheel diameter, the greater risk there is of the alloy becoming bent or cracked if it hits anything, which in turn can lead to alignment issues and premature tyre wear.

Bumping your tyres can also result in cracks or bulges on the tyre itself, which need to be checked out asap as they can have extremely detrimental effects. Meanwhile, punctures, which can happen when hitting the wheel, can vary in severity. Smaller ones can probably be fixed easily, but larger ones or ones on the outer edges could be more serious.

Over and underinflated

Keeping your tyres correctly inflated is extremely important because being over-inflated and under-inflated are both as dangerous.

When under-inflated, damage, such as excess wear and tear can occur, alongside overheating, while over-inflated tyres will experience reduced grip while on the road. This could also lead to the tyre bulging, affecting the alignment and life span of the tyre.

Therefore, it’s important to check the pressure regularly. You’ll find the recommended pressure in the car’s manual.

To ensure your tyres are always at their best, it’s important to get a professional to look at them regularly. If you have any questions about your wheels and would like one of our specialists to take a look, call us on 01204 859045, or send us a message through our contact form.