Alloy wheels vs. steel wheels

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Malcolm R, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    I'm on the verge of buying a new car and am trying to decided between trim levels. Most of the differences are in the accessories, one of which is alloy wheels on the higher trim. So I'm trying to justify the extra cost by figuring out if there's a meaningful difference between some of the features, but my knowledge of cars and car parts is pretty limited.

    What are the benefits of alloy wheels over regular steel wheels? Are there any beyond aesthetics?
     
  2. ToddMS

    ToddMS Stunt Coordinator

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    An alloy wheel should weigh less than a standard steel wheel, reducing the car's unsprung weight. This should improve handling and responsiveness. However, if the car isn't sporty to begin with, or you don't drive in a sporty manner (aka most drivers), you probably won't notice/need the difference.

    Depending on the types of roads you drive, the higher performance wheel/tire combo could actually result in a harsher ride, as low profile tires won't suck up all the potholes and such as well as standard tires. If you have lots of potholes in your area, like South Bend, Indiana, I don't think you would enjoy having the higher performance wheel.

    What type of car are you looking at? Maybe we can give you better suggestions with some more info...

    Todd
     
  3. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Depending on the make and model and the type of trim level we're talking about there can be no significant difference or lots of difference.

    On a Camry, for example, the basic LE is available with or without alloy wheels. Both versions use the exact same tire sizes and tire models. The alloy wheel isn't substantially lighter than the steel wheel in this particular case. The alloy does look better than the plastic wheel covers on the steel wheel. The only practical advantage in this particular case is that the alloy wheel would allow for better brake cooling as it has larger open spaces. Steel wheels typically have only smallish oval slots or round holes for ventilation and these are partially blocked by the plastic wheel covers.

    If we're talking about the difference between a base trim level and a sport trim level that includes alloys as standard equipment, then the tires are usually a wider model, the wheels are usually a larger diameter, and the tires will also usually have a higher speed rating meaning they are more resistant to blowouts at higher operating temperatures. The "sports" trim level often also includes stiffer suspension and perhaps thicker anti-sway bars. In all but the most extreme cases, the sports suspension and high performance tires give a much better feeling of control of the car, do away with the mush and float of the "old lady" version of the car, without giving you a super stiff uncomfortable ride.

    If the roads in your area are super bad, or if you need to use tire chains on a regular basis, steel wheels would be a better choice. If you hit an unexpected pothole at way too fast a speed, the steel wheel will usually bend before the car's suspension is damaged, whereas the alloys have less "give".
     
  4. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Definitely not sporty. It's a Honda CR-V. The EX trim level has alloy wheels, privacy glass, anti-lock brakes, and a power moonroof. Mechanically it's identical (other than the brakes). Price is about $2,000 higher than mid-level LX.

    The only thing that's sort of appealing is the privacy glass, so I'm trying to figure out if the other features are anything special. If not, I may as well just get the LX and have the windows tinted myself.

    And, yes, we have plenty of potholes and frost heaves around these parts.
     
  5. ToddMS

    ToddMS Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmm...you might not really notice the difference in wheels. Can you test drive both and see which you prefer? On a side note, it looks like the EX also has side air-bags and, anti-lock breaks, and electronically controlled breaking, all of which I wouldn't want to go without (especially the ABS). Seems like these additional features would be worth the extra $, with or without the alloy wheels.

    Todd
     
  6. Lee L

    Lee L Supporting Actor

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    As far as aeshtetics go, when I was selling my Cherokee, the alloy wheels definitely added to the value of the car. They look much better ususally and complete the overall picture you get when you look at the car, making it look nicer. Another similar option is the factory privacy glass (not aftermarket tint) in the rear of the car, definitely get that, it is usually only a couple hundred bucks and increases the looks and saleability of the car quite a bit.
     
  7. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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    A downside to alloy wheels is that they can be bent and are expensive to fix, especially with a sports package that includes low profile tires. Since you are getting a CR-V, I would guess that the tires are not low-profile, so you shouldn't have to worry about bending them. Based on all the other stuff you get with the EX trim level, I would recommend getting it.
     
  8. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the replies and info.

    Tire size is P205/70 R15 regardless of wheel type. I don't think that's considered "low profile."


    Geez, you guys are talking me into it. :b [​IMG]
     
  9. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Sounds like that trim package is worth it to me, if for nothing OTHER than the ABS brakes. I wouldn't buy a car without 'em nowadays. [​IMG]
     
  10. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Funny everyone seems so high on ABS. Others I've talked to were either ambivalent or outright hostile toward them.

    I really don't have a strong opinion either way. I've never owned a vehicle that had them, so I don't really think they're something I need. I did "test" them one time on someone else's vehicle and it was a very odd experience.
     
  11. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Have you considered the Subaru Forester? If safety is high on your list of things to consider, it's worth a look, though it's probably a lot more expensive.

    Personally I wouldn't buy a car without both anti-lock brakes and all-wheel-drive, but that's just me [​IMG].

    Alloy wheels do a lot for the look of a car from a purely aesthetic POV, their actual difference in performance is negligible all things being equal. The nice thing about steel wheels is that they are so much cheaper to replace if you hit a bad pothole or something and they bend. Alloys are pricey!
     
  12. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I'd go for the alloys. They usually look so much better than steelies.

    For safety reasons I'd choose the ABS option too. They saved me on one big occasion where I would have plowed into the car in front of me in the rain. Of course I didn't but the guy behind me rammed my rear bumper and totaled his Isuzu.
     
  13. Daren Welsh

    Daren Welsh Supporting Actor

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    Spinners, dude.

    Spinners.
     
  14. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    That's far from low profile. They sound like mini pickup truck tires. That's what they put on Hondas these days? [​IMG]
     
  15. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    how long do they last ? I forsee future breakdown lanes littered with them....
     
  16. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I loathe those spinners! [​IMG] They are distracting to other drivers and stupid looking.
     
  17. Daren Welsh

    Daren Welsh Supporting Actor

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    Kirk and Matt obviously don't understand the underlying physics behind spinners. They're like flywheels, man. When you slow your roll, they store up all dat energy so's you can lay down the 12-second 1/4-mile when some ricer steps to ya.
     
  18. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    I'm upgrading my brakes and ABS will be gone after I'm done. Efficiency reasons and to shave a lot of weight off the car. For a family car and everyday driver I do recommend them though.
     
  19. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Well, the CR-V is Honda's small SUV, so you're probably not far off.
     
  20. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    ABS is worthless unless you know how to use them. Most people have enough problem backing up straight. Personally, I will not buy a car unless it has ABS with a couple of airbags, if not more.

    I do own a Camry LE and intend to change my steel wheels to alloys. No, I am not lowering the car or anything like that....just to get wider tires so that I can put as much rubber as possible on the pavement.
     

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