One of the best accessories that you can get your car is a set of alloys wheels. They not only add great visual impact to the car, but they also aid in handling, because alloys are generally lighter than the regular steel wheels that your car comes with.

car alloy wheels guide

In India, there are plenty of aftermarket brands of alloy wheels suitable for most Indian cars. Prices of alloy wheels range from as low as Rs. 2,500 per wheel rim all the way up to Rs. 50,000 per rim! Brands such as Neo wheels, Platti, HR-Racing (Hijoin) and Aura are some of the popular choices in India.

But how do you go about selecting the right alloy wheel, with the plethora of choice in the Indian market? Here are some pointers to choosing the right alloy wheel for your car and understanding the jargon the wheel-maker will spew at you.

Advantages of alloy wheels

-          Alloy wheels enhance the looks of the car. It can make even a mundane looking car look good.

-          Improves fuel economy. This is a very minor improvement, because alloy wheels are lighter than steel wheels and reduces the overall weight of the car

-          Improves handling. Being lighter, alloy wheels theoretically reduce the steering effort and therefore aid in better handling

-          More durable. Alloy wheels are sturdier than steel wheels as they are made of hardened aluminum-magnesium alloy, which does not bend, unlike a steel wheel that’s prone to rim bending especially in smaller cars.

-          Better suited to tubeless tyres. Because aluminum alloy wheels don’t bend, they are better suited to tubeless tyres as they retain their shape and therefore air easily.

-          Do not rust. Aluminum alloy wheels won’t rust unlike steel wheels, and are therefore better for cars used in coastal areas especially or areas of high rainfall.

-          Improve braking. Alloys also improve braking performance, because many have a better ventilation pattern in the rim and conduct heat better than steel wheels, allowing the cars brakes to run cooler.

Disadvantages of alloy wheels

-          High initial purchase cost. An alloy wheel is 2-3 times more expensive compared to a similar steel wheel.

-          Cannot be repaired. In the unlikely event of a very hard knock to the wheel, the alloy can crack or break. And if this happens, the wheel cannot be repaired. It has to be replaced.

-          Needs wheel balancing checks. An alloy wheel does not allow you to use clip-on wheel balancing weights. Instead one needs to use stick-on weights on the inside of the rim, which are more likely to fall off than clip-on weights.

 

Once you’ve decided to buy a set of alloy wheels here are a few things you have to keep in mind when choosing your alloy.

Wheel rim size

If you are only buying alloy wheel rims and not replacing your tyres, ensure that the alloy size that you are getting is correct. Replace a 16-inch diameter steel rim with a 16-inch alloy wheel rim only. If you change the diameter, you will have to change your tyres, to maintain the overall specified wheel and tyre combined diameter and also to get tyres that will fit on your new rim.

PCD

PCD stands for pitch circle diameter.  This is the distance of the wheel bolts or studs from the center point or axle of the wheel. It also accounts for how many holes or studs that you have on the rim. A PCD of 5×160 indicates that the rim has a 160 mm diameter on which the 5 bolts are located, evenly spaced. If you don’t match the PCD exactly to what the car came with, you won’t be able to fit your alloy on the car’s wheel hub. Also read: Five points to consider when buying new tyres!

Offset

Have you seen some cars with fancy alloy wheels that stick out from the body of the car? Those are cars with high negative offset to their alloy wheels. Positive offset are seen on some older cars where the wheel hub protrudes out further than the rest of the wheel. Offset is the term used for the amount the center of the wheel deviates from the point of fitment to the hub. Most alloy wheels come with zero offset or slight negative offset. Staying within 1-inch deviation from the original is acceptable, as negative offset also aids in handling. But too much offset can put pressure on the hub and axle and even break these parts in extreme cases.

Rim width

Take care that the alloy rim that you are buying is not too wide. Apart from having to buy new tyres, wider rims can also foul with the fender, steering rod or suspension components. The width of the alloy wheel is denoted by numbers such as 6.5 J, 7 J, 8 J etc, where 6.5 is the width in inches and J is the shape of the rim lip (some alloys have JJ).

Upsizing

When you are upsizing your tyres, you usually can go in for wider alloys to accommodate the wider tyres. However, don’t change the overall diameter of the tyre and alloy combination because this will change the odometer readings on your car as well as affect handling adversely. Always reduce the tyre profile size for each increase in tyre width size that you undertake.

For instance, the standard tyre size on a Mahindra Scorpio is 235/70 R16, where 235 is the width of the tyre in mm, 70 is the profile or sidewall height in percentage to the width of the tyre, a R16 denotes a 16-inch wheel rim diameter. If you want to increase the width of the tyres, the ideal upsize is 255/65 R16. Because even though the width has increased, the decrease in sidewall profile keeps the overall diameter intact.

The formula to calculate wheel diameter in inches is:

{[Width of the tyre x (profile number/10)] x 2} divided by 25.4 and add this to the wheel diameter in inches.

In the above example, the overall diameter of the Scorpio’s wheel with original factory-fitted tyres is 28.95 inches. When you upsize to the fatter 255 width tyres the overall diameter is 29.05 inches. As long as the difference is within 3% of each other, it is fine. Another option is to go for 255/60 width tyres on 17-inch alloy rims. Notice how the profile has been brought down further, with a 1-inch increase in alloy size.

Spigot rings

Spigot rings are spacing rings that allow the alloy wheel to rest on the hub of the car while fitting the wheel. Normally the wheel rim will fit exactly on the hub and the studs, without putting weight on the bolt studs, but if it does not, you need to put a plastic or aluminum ring to help the wheel “sit” on the hub and then tighten the bolts.

Spacers

Spacers are discs that are used between the hub and the alloy wheel to achieve better offset and/or keep the alloy from touching components such as the brake disc or the calipers. They are not a good idea and should be avoided.

Tell us if you have any more tips on choosing and fitting alloy wheels on your car. As for the choice of should you or should you not, CarToq recommends using alloys as the benefits are quite evident. Happy driving!