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04 Mar 2010 | Text and photos by Jason Carino | Category: Car Technical Advice

It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a worn out rust bucket or a brand spanking new, off the showroom model, wheels make a whole world of difference when it comes to your cars’ looks.


I always liken wheel purchases to buying a new pair of shoes. Here are a couple of tips and specifications to look out for when you’re in the market for wheels.

Design


Nothing can make or break your car’s theme more than the design of your wheels. There are so many to choose from but at the end of the day it’s all up to your taste BUT there are unwritten rules on this though. Try to find out what the intended market or model the wheel manufacturer has designed their product on. You don’t want to put a wheel that’s normally associated with let’s say a Honda on a Toyota. I classify my wheel design choices between racing, luxury or OEM look.

Design choice will all depend on what theme you are carrying with your car. If you want your car to look like a track warrior, then a racing design would be appropriate. If you want your car to roll out in elegance, then a luxury wheel would look good on it. But if you want to look OEM and be on the safe side, then an OEM manufactured wheel would be best.

Bolt Pattern

Before any wheel upgrade is to be done, your vehicles bolt pattern should be determined. Normally, it consists of two numbers wherein the first one refers to the number of wheel studs on the vehicles hub. The second number refers to the distance between the bolts which is normally in millimeter increments.

Most car manufacturers equip modern day sedans with a bolt pattern of 5X114 or 4x100. There are a few car manufacturers out there with very odd bolt patterns. Just be sure you know what you have before choosing.

Offset

Offset is very important in determining the proper stance of your vehicle. I would rate offset as equal as wheel design when it comes to choosing the proper wheel for your car. Offset is the distance between the centerline of the wheel and the plane of the hub-mounting surface of the wheel. It is normally designated with a plus (+) or negative (–) sign.

To have a clearer idea, the more positive offset you have, the wheels look more shod inside the fenders. Normally, OEM wheel manufacturers are specified with a positive offset to avoid rubbing of the tires on the wheel wells of the fender. Negative offset makes the wheels come out of the fenders more. IT gives the car a more aggressive look but the trade off can be fender rubbing.
Size

Size does matter, in wheel choices at the least! Since wheels are round and is a big part of the vehicles rolling mass, wheel sizing is important. I would tend to choose smaller wheels if I wanted to extract more performance out of my car.

A bigger wheel would definitely look better but again there are tradeoffs. Bigger means more weight. More weight means more load on the engine thus robbing your car of performance and fuel efficiency. Decide what the wheel is for in your car. If it’s for performance, then go with a small diameter wheel. For some head turning action, bigger is the way to go.

Colour


Notice that car manufacturers come out with wheels in silver most of the time? It’s because it’s the safest colour you can put on your car. But as a general rule, light colours make the wheel look big and clean. Dark colours tend to make the wheels look small but racing inspired. Some manufacturers come out with polished lips on wheels to emphasize the width of the wheel.

Used Wheels

With the number of car forums and online vendors on the internet, used wheels is something to consider. People on a budget normally go for used wheels but some resort to used because some rare wheels are no longer in production. Since you’re purchasing a used item, there are some things to look out for. Make sure the wheel is round and true.

You can have it checked by placing it on a wheel balancer which most car shops have. Also, be on the lookout for cracks and curb side damage. These may lessen the integrity of the wheel and air leaks might spring from these thus making it unsafe for road use.

Care and Maintenance


Wheels should be given a lot of TLC. Make sure to wash them with mild soap and water. Brush the spokes or the mesh of the wheel and make sure you dry them with a non abrasive cloth in order to prevent water stains especially on polished wheel lips. Try to buy tires with a rim guard to avoid curb damage. I know most of the roads in Singapore are pristine but try to avoid potholes if ever you encounter one.

I hope these few tips would be able to help you in your new or next wheel purchase. We put a lot of time and effort in our cars and this is the best upgrade you can give to it. Happy motoring!

To upgrade your rims, you can visit our MCF Marketplace.

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