Modern-day cars come with pretty much everything that pampers the passengers and maintains their style statement. One of the things which may have an impact on the car-buying decision is the type of wheel one wants in his dream car. There are mainly two types of wheels; Alloy and Steel. Almost every entry-level car variant comes with steel wheels, while many mid-range to top-of-the-line models comes equipped with alloy wheels.
Though they have their unique benefits and also some drawbacks, we will try to explain the differences so that a typical car buyer can make an informed decision before choosing between the two.
The alloy wheels give an aesthetic boost to the car and aid in handling. Scientifically speaking, they are made up of a mixture of different metals mostly two alloys, aluminium and magnesium, to provide rigidity and hardness. The alloy wheels are manufactured through a casting or forging process, and in most modern cars, they find a special place in the list of desired features and are considered so important, that they can even make or break the deal.
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Alloy Wheels Advantages
Alloy wheels do more than boost the road presence. Here are some of the advantages of alloy wheels.
- 1. Lightweight in nature
- 2. Stylish appearance
- 3. Performance enhancement
- 4. Corrosion-resistant
The complex manufacturing process of alloy wheels makes them lighter than steel wheels. And this reduced weight improves the initial acceleration, handling, increase fuel efficiency, and also, enhances tyre life due to better dissipation of heat.
What is a better way to make a car appear flashy other than the alloy wheels? Most potential car buyers choose alloy wheels to make their car look premium. There are several types of alloy wheel designs such as ‘Diamond Cut’, ‘Laser Cut’, ‘Chrome Plated’, etc. you may have seen in advertisements. This abundance of choices makes them a better alternative than their steel counterparts, in terms of sporty style statements.
As mentioned, the lightweight design of alloy wheels offers several benefits. And one of the key advantages is the improved ride quality as steel wheels are independent of suspension, and transmits less inertia to the coil spring. And apart from handling and stability, the presence of alloy wheels also betters steering and cornering.
The metal alloy is famous for its rust-resistant characteristic. And the same benefit can be seen in the wheels made of alloys, as they maintain their shine and last longer. They are more beneficial for people living in coastal regions where surface corrosion is quite common.
Alloy Wheels Disadvantages
All that glitters is not always gold. Besides numerous advantages, alloy wheels have their set of drawbacks. Let’s discuss them below.
- 1. Costly
- 2. Toughness
- 3. Complex and costly repairing
Style statement mostly comes at a cost. Alloy wheels are expensive and can significantly increase the price of a car. That is the reason entry-level or base models do not come fitted with alloy wheels. The expensive pricing is due to the complex and detailed manufacturing process. In fact, for buying a set of alloy wheels, one may have to pay up to 50 per cent more than the steel wheels.
Though alloy wheels look pleasing to the eyes, they are not as strong and rigid as steel wheels. They are prone to bends and cracks upon impact. And if we talk about looks, even the slightest damage on alloy wheels can tarnish the image of the car. Moreover, driving with a damaged alloy wheel can be unsafe as the wheel might break due to the forces.
As mentioned earlier, alloys are not pure metals. Hence, the process of repairing is time-consuming and complex. Bringing back alloy wheels to their original shape is not easy, compared to steel wheels, as removing bends or cracks can be very expensive.
Steel is one of the sturdier forms of iron available. And due to its high durability and robustness, it is used in various fields such as manufacturing high-end SUVs, commercial vehicles, railway tracks, foundations, construction, etc. Steel wheels are a cheap alternative to alloy wheels. Below are the pros and cons of steel wheels.
Steel Wheels Advantages
Some of the benefits of having steel wheels in a car are as follows.
- 1. Affordability
- 2. Durability
- 3. Easy repairing
Steel wheels are best for people with a low budget. That is the reason they come equipped with entry-level and base car models. The low cost of steel is due to its simple manufacturing process and the amount of material used. One may have to spend more than double for alloy wheels compared to steel.
The word ‘steel’ is self-explanatory. Steel wheels are strong and provide more endurance than alloy wheels. Hence, low chances of cracks and bends upon impact. And even if there is a bend, repairing it is easy. Due to their toughness and ability to take the beating of harsh terrains, the steel wheels are often seen in hardcore off-roading SUVs.
Steel is a malleable material, which means it can be hammered hard and pushed permanently out of shape without cracking or breaking. So, removing cracks or bends is an easy job, as compared to the alloy wheels. The process is simple and requires nothing more than hammering the bent part.
Steel Wheels Disadvantages
Blessed with several virtues, the steel wheels are not immune to drawbacks. Here are some of the disadvantages of steel wheels.
- 1. Heavyweight
- 2. Prone to corrosion
- 3. Styling
Steel wheels are heavy and add more to the unsprung weight of the vehicle. And this additional weight is transferred to the suspension setup, affecting the overall handling of the car. Vehicles shod with steel wheels also affect the initial acceleration and result in low fuel efficiency. The more the weight, the more effort by the engine to propel the car.
Steel is a metal prone to rust and corrosion, especially when the car is driven in humid environments. However, with the advancements in powder-coating, the corrosion in steel wheels can be eliminated to a large extent, keeping their glow and shine for an extended period.
Looks are a subjective matter, but steel wheels are hardly seen in premium SUVs and sports cars. As they appear simple and bland, they lack the needed appeal and aren’t visually compatible with high-end cars.
By now, you might have understood which one to buy? The tough or inexpensive steel wheels or elegant-looking and performance-oriented alloy wheels? The choice is yours.