The pros and cons of alloy wheels

Nothing sets off a car better than beautiful alloy wheels but these do not come for free. If you are fortunate enough to have bought a new car that already has a set or if you are considering replacing your stock steel wheels with alloy wheels then you must take good care of them. One major problem that will be discussed in detail is damage, rim repairs can be expensive.

There is no disputing their stylish good looks but there are benefits that go beyond just cosmetic. As alloy wheels are considerably stronger than their steel counterparts they can take daily abuse better; there is the possibility of hitting a pot hole no matter where you drive. Most designs are more open than a conventional wheel, this allows the brakes to stay cooler and cool brakes reduce fade when applied. Alloy wheels are considerably lighter, this contributes to far more precise steering, increases the rate of acceleration and the brakes are more responsive. With all these benefits, what could possible go wrong with them?

A one word answer to that question is “damage.” Unfortunately the height of a curb is about the same height as the rim is off the road, this leads to scraping the rim against the curb, there is really no way to avoid it. Although a slight impact with the curb will result in minor damage, repeat contact which is almost inevitable while parking will evenly damage the wheel to the point where rim repairs will become necessary. It is bad enough to scar the edges of the rims, it is even worse if the curb is impacted hard enough to cause an indentation or chip on the edge. Smaller chips and even cracks can be successfully repaired but anything worse will mean the rim will have to be replaced.

Rim repairs can be done in a number of ways depending on the damage. Some damage can be repaired by the owner while other repairs must be carried out by professionals that have specialist equipment. It is important to understand that whoever does the repair does it correctly, a major restoration includes sandblasting the surface to remove the original finish, welding any faults, machining the surfaces, heat treating and finally, refinishing.
In an effort to try and overcome all these problems and eliminate the need for rim repairs there are products available that fit on the rim, these sacrificial “skins” protect the rim from curb scrapes and also can be used to cover existing damage.

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