Steel vs Alloys

RiceBurner

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What's the benefit of alloy wheels, BESIDES the 'bling' factor?

ie, what are the physical/engeineering benefits of alloy wheels?

I know they look a lot nicer - but do they actually benefiit the driving experience any??
 

Rappey69

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They are lighter so there is less sprung weight on the hubs, making an improvement on the handling. it may not be a lot but it all adds up.
 

MarkCL

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Depends on the type of alloy really - some cheap ones are no different to steel wheels from an engineering prespective except perhaps actually being more brittle. Good quality ones though (like OZ for example) can be both lighter and stronger. The reduction in unsprung weight can aid with handling and acceleration/braking with a well made set :)

Cheers,
Mark
 

Alex M Grieve

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They are lighter so there is less sprung weight on the hubs, making an improvement on the handling. it may not be a lot but it all adds up.

Would that be less sprung, or less unsprung weight on the hubs? :confused:
 

carnut13

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Depends on the type of alloy really - some cheap ones are no different to steel wheels from an engineering prespective except perhaps actually being more brittle. Good quality ones though (like OZ for example) can be both lighter and stronger. The reduction in unsprung weight can aid with handling and acceleration/braking with a well made set :)

Cheers,
Mark

Are Mercedes OEM "good quality ones"?
 

whitenemesis

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Depending on style, alloys allow greater brake cooling.

Thay also give clearance to bigger calipers etc..
 
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RiceBurner

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Good stuff guys - thanks. :)


so - from a purely engineering & financial point of view - what would you spend on replacing the steel wheels on your car with 2nd hand alloys?? Ie - is there a significant, ie £100+ (for example) saving to be made over (say) a year of motoring by putting alloys on??
 

MarkCL

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Are Mercedes OEM "good quality ones"?

As far as I know, yes they are. It's more the cheap after market wheels that rice boys and boy racers tend to stick on their cars because they want big alloys but can't afford "proper" ones where they aren't necessarily getting such good quality.

Just as an example - a set of good OZ 17 or 18 inch alloys can cost over double what the cheaper brands do. When you're on benefits and simply MUST have those 18's on your Corsa then it simply comes down to the math...or else finding a car with wheels you like and "relocating" them ;)

Cheers,
Mark
 

MarkCL

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Good stuff guys - thanks. :)

so - from a purely engineering & financial point of view - what would you spend on replacing the steel wheels on your car with 2nd hand alloys?? Ie - is there a significant, ie £100+ (for example) saving to be made over (say) a year of motoring by putting alloys on??

For most people the decision is purely based on cosmetic appeal I expect. If you wanted to quantify how much money you might "save" by having alloys over steel wheels then things get a little tricky.

That's not to say any improvement in tyre wear and fuel consumption etc won't be measurable, just that it will be a small amount and difficult to identify.

Personally, I just prefer the look of alloys and will always go with what looks smart as well as what performs well. If you can find a good set of 2nd hand genuine Merc (or good quality manufacturer) alloys for reasonable money for example then fine - its just that you can't always guarantee that what you buy is actually ok.

Case in point, a set that looked fine that someone bought off eBay the other week turned out to have a significant dent/wobble on two of the wheels. You don't see that in pictures unfortunately. At least when buying new you get the guarantee of fit for purpose and all that, hence why I usually buy new wheels rather than 2nd hand.

All depends on how much you're willing to spend to get the car looking how you want - the other benefits usually are a secondary ;)

Just me 2p
Mark
 

D1gger5

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One problem with alloys is that when tarnishing starts to occur (because rim clip weights rather than glued on weights) then air seepage may occur. Thus the tyres go down slowly as the air escapes.

So if new alloys, ensure Kwik-Fit/ATS/etc fit glued weights when balancing and well away from the rims.
 

S80

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I would agree that the real-world 'engineering' benefits are pretty small in the majority of cases, and that it's primarily down to 'aesthetics' (some more questionable than others).

From a cost point of view, 'upgrading' to alloys often involves a significant increase in tyre section width, which I would think leads to increase in rolling resistance - to the detriment of fuel economy.

On the aesthetics side, many older models seem to suit steel rims and hubcaps rather than alloys - maybe because alloy fitment is a relatively recent thing. The W123 would be such an example.
 

television

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I would agree that the real-world 'engineering' benefits are pretty small in the majority of cases, and that it's primarily down to 'aesthetics' (some more questionable than others).

From a cost point of view, 'upgrading' to alloys often involves a significant increase in tyre section width, which I would think leads to increase in rolling resistance - to the detriment of fuel economy.

On the aesthetics side, many older models seem to suit steel rims and hubcaps rather than alloys - maybe because alloy fitment is a relatively recent thing. The W123 would be such an example.

I agree with you there, the 113, 107,123 look good in steels with body matching hub caps.

I do not think that there is any difference in the mass weight as the alloys are much thicker
 

popuptoaster

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Most alloys designed for road cars are heavier than the equivelant steel wheel, even "good quality" ones, proper racing wheels have a higher magnesium content and they are substantially lighter, the downside is they corrode really fast so are not suitable for road use, alloys (if designed right) will aid brake cooling simply by being a bigger heatsink, but in 90% of cases alloys on a road car offer no benefit other than styling.
 

st4

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Alloys give better resale value. Only reason why I'd add them if I were speccing new. I don't get the fascination of reducing tyre profiles so an extra inch of alloy wheel can be squeezed under the arch. it damages handling as the cars wheels become very heavy and this is noticable, the ride quality is reduced, and the car is noiser. Wider wheels may give more grip (in the dry anyway) but bigger wheels just damage handling, ride and refinement.

Look at an F1 car which is optimised for speed, small wheels, big tyres.
 

FIBAMAN

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Good stuff guys - thanks. :)


so - from a purely engineering & financial point of view - what would you spend on replacing the steel wheels on your car with 2nd hand alloys?? Ie - is there a significant, ie £100+ (for example) saving to be made over (say) a year of motoring by putting alloys on??

I was looking for a set of steel wheels to fit winter tyres to last October but couldnt find any for sale, so I bought a set of second hand OEM alloys (NEWER CAR THAN MINE) with Michelin tyres, 2 x V good, and 2 x a bit near the limit for my liking, for £160 the lot. Ditched two tyres and kept two good ones and bought set of new Vredestein Wintrac for £85 each and they have been excellent over the winter.
 

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