RAC Cars News


The Pros And Cons Of Alloy Wheels

By raccars Published

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Alloy wheels are considered a desirable feature on any car and can cost significant amount of money. They come with a number of benefits and problems, so if you are lucky enough to have a set on your car or are planning to invest in them, you will need to take good care of them.

Alloys wheels might look stylish but their benefits extend outside the cosmetic. Their added strength is a bonus in cornering while the extra brake cooling can help to reduce 'brake fade' when the car is being pushed. Their lighter weight makes them not only efficient but also contributes to more precise steering and can increase acceleration and braking responsiveness. Bearing that in mind, what can go wrong?

Alloys are susceptible to certain kinds of damage. Most people are aware of scars left by kerbing, when the alloy wheel is scraped against a kerb, usually as part of a badly executed parking manoeuvre. This can be minor or more major, necessitating welding and machining to repair the wheel. Similarly, impacts such as clipping the kerb while driving can cause chips and cracks. Chips can be fixed with a smart repair and smaller cracks can be repaired by TIG welding but larger cracks may mean the wheel needs to be replaced.

Alloy wheels are also subject to corrosion, which takes on the appearance of white dust on the wheel. Usually this is a result of a reaction between the alloy and road salt and may be surface damage only. However, the wheel needs to be carefully inspected to make sure the corrosion hasn't caused any structural damage. Minor corrosion can be fixed with a refurbishment, involving the removal of the paint on the wheel and refinishing it.

There are various ways to remedy damaged alloys. Smart repairs can fix cosmetic faults by sanding down the damaged area and repainting. Chips and cracks can be welded. Done properly this will leave your wheel as good as new but a bad job can cause stress cracks under weight. A full refurbishment can be carried out, removing all the original paint, sandblasting to a clean finish, machining out or welding any faults then painting and heat treating the new finish.

Alloy wheel also suffer buckling from negotiating potholes or kerbs. Buckling often occurs on the inner rim of the wheel and is not immediately visible, but if you know you have hit an obstacle or notice steering or seat vibration, get your wheels checked - both front and back and inner and outer rims.

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