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How do Alloy Wheels work?

Did you know that most automobiles are equipped with steel wheels? Higher trim levels and more premium vehicles often offer aluminum alloy wheels instead, so we thought we’d dive into they why of that for this week’s How’s This Work. We probably don’t need to explain what a wheel is or how they work, but we can at least dive into the details of how alloy wheels are made and why they’re more beneficial than traditional steel wheels.

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What are Alloy Wheels?

Alloy wheels are made by combining different metals and other elements together into one compound. The end product becomes a stronger yet softer material that you can mold into things like wheels. For most wheels these days, aluminum is used, but magnesium is also a top contender in the creation of alloy wheels. In fact, steel itself is technically an alloy, as it combines iron and carbon, but we don’t often consider it one as it is a heavy metal.

The benefits of utilizing aluminum alloy wheels instead of steel are numerous. That’s not to say steel isn’t a great material for wheels, though. There is a reason it has been the go to for so long. Steel is quite durable and fairly cheap as well, making it the ultimate material for making wheels. The only setback of steel is how heavy it is, which is why aluminum alloy is a superior choice. Aluminum alloy wheels weigh much less than steel wheels, offering a performance enhancement, without losing any strength.

On top of that, aluminum alloy offers a much more visually-pleasing finished product. With a host of different possible designs and sizes, plus other benefits like an increase in brake clearance, more durability and even a heightened overall vehicle value, alloy wheels make an excellent option for wheels. The only setback is that they’re more expensive than steel wheels, which is why they’re often reserved for premium vehicles and top trim levels.


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