Unlocking Performance: Top Benefits of Upgrading Your Factory Wheels for Safety, Handling, and Durability

Wheels are more than just an aesthetic addition to your car. They have a huge say in how your car handles. Going with aftermarket options lets you have more control over the car at higher speeds and with a stronger build, better braking, and cornering performance. Wider wheels additionally let you slap on lower-profile tires for more grip and increased feedback through the steering wheel. And they can survive potholes, bad roads, and adverse weather longer, while still looking good, just like the day you first got them. 

With so many options, and so many brands, choosing the right wheels can prove a difficult task. Wheels come in different price brackets, and there’s a lot of industry terminology that adds to the confusion. But if you’re set on livelier looks, the increased response at speed, and wheels that will last, even entry-level wheels from mainstream brands will make a huge difference in ride quality and comfort. And if you know exactly what you want, shopping for alloys at a dedicated wheels shop opens up a lot of variety. You get different designs, all the options of both big and specialized brand names, and wheels to suit any budget. 

Why Your Change Factory Wheels?

Steel wheels are okay for everyday driving but you can buy wheels in tougher alloys to increase performance, durability, and safety. Aluminum and magnesium alloys are lighter and have trace materials that add more strength and hardness and wheels that work better in corrosive environments, especially in winter. Their lower weight additionally means better acceleration and higher top speeds. Increased strength translates to improved responsiveness and more stability when changing direction. To boot, superior designs get rid of heat quicker, so you also get better braking with shorter stopping distances and less wear in braking parts. The improvements are substantial on their own, but adding equally good tires nets you more of everything. 

wheels difference
source: cars.com

On the looks front, spoked wheels are undoubtedly the most popular and go well with modern cars. There’s considerable variety in spoke count and designs, from subtle 3, 5, or 7 and single and double-spoked variants. In classic cars and old-timers, look for mesh, tele-dial, and grid designs. Also, consider finishes and colour options. Powder and paint-coated wheels match newer vehicles better, and add another layer of rust and weather protection, while chromed and polished finishes bring back the looks of simpler times. 

Choosing Upgraded Alloys

Once you’ve decided on the design that best suits the car, time to consider the differences in materials and how wheels are made and get the right size. Aluminium is by far the most popular choice, with high strength, low weight, and good malleability so is easily formed into the desired shape. It is also rust and weather resistant, holds up against snow and salt, and is approved for winter use. 

Magnesium is superior. It is lighter and stronger (though more brittle) and is ideally seen in track cars. Magnesium additionally doesn’t get as hot, so you’ll also see better braking performance. The benefits over aluminium alloys though are reflected in higher prices and lower availability. 

Cast, Flow-formed and Forged Wheels

Aftermarket wheels are made using one of three production processes – casting, flow-forming, or forging. Entry-level and lower-priced wheels are made using casting. This involves pouring molten metal into a mould and then machining it to get the end result. Cast alloys offer decent strength but are heavier than either flow-formed or forged wheels. 

forged wheels
source: m3post.com

Flow-forming is similar to casting but involves spinning a pre-cast wheel on a mandrel while applying heat and pressure. The result is a stronger and lighter wheel. These are somewhat more expensive than cast variants. For ultimate performance, and where price isn’t an issue, forged wheels have no peers. Forging consists of forming a single solid piece of metal under immense pressure and heat, then rolling the wheel, and machining it to remove excess material. This offers the best results in terms of available designs, the lowest weight as well as superior strength. The extra work and attention to detail though means you’ll be paying much more. 

Size and Fitment 

Wheel makers have dozens of lines of the same design to ensure that wheels fit your car. And you’ll find different options for any make and model in a dedicated wheels shop. Here you need to pay attention to bolt patterns or PCD (pitch circle diameter) in terms of how many bolts there are and how they are spaced so they fit your car’s wheel hub. Most common PCD sizes refer to 4 or 5 bolt patterns with bolts spaced at 100 to 120mm apart. 

wheels size
source: jdpower.com

Next, consider offset, or how far ‘in’ or ‘out’ the wheels sit when they’re bolted onto the hubs. More specifically, this is the distance (stated in millimetres) between the centerline of the wheel and the surface where it mounts to the hub. Wheels with negative offset sit more toward the suspension, while those with positive offset are set more toward the street. Where the wheel sits dead centre with the hub mount, we’re talking about zero offsets. The majority of performance cars have positive offset and a wider track that helps with traction and cornering stability. 

Lastly, consider the diameters or the overall size of the wheel and whether this can fit in the wheel arches. The most common sizes are 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20-inch wheels, though 14, 15, and 22 inches are also available. Most buyers go with wheels that are one or two inches bigger than what the car came with. Buyers can also choose wider wheels, with widths ranging between 5 and 10 inches. Wider and bigger wheels mean the option for more rubber and higher grip levels while bringing the car into a ‘slammed’ look.