Alloy versus Steel

Bent rims are probably one of most common issues for drivers to deal with, particularly during the late winter / early spring when potholes always seem to be at their worst.

Some argue the case for alloy wheels (a mixture of aluminium and other metals) being more likely to bend than sturdier steel wheels, whilst others argue that steel is more susceptible to bending. Suffice it to say that each type of wheel can bend if it hits a hole or curb hard enough.

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Alloy wheels are now more common in new vehicles because they improve the appearance and performance of the vehicle due to their lighter weight. Lightweight wheels usually equate to better handling, but they often come with low profile tyres which offer scant cushioning against potholes and bumps. So, the bigger the diameter of the wheels, such as over 18 inches or more – the greater the risk that the alloy wheel could be damaged or bent by an impact. Worse still, the suspension can become damaged, throwing out the alignment of the steering, causing early tyre wear. Steel is commonly shod with higher profile tyres that provide more cushion against injury. They also tend to give a better ride quality, because the sidewall is thicker and able to absorb bumps better.

Alloy wheels may also suffer from pitting and corrosion from road salt exposure, moisture and too much cleaning which wears off a coat of paint. They can also discolour over time from brake dust accumulation or general neglect. Wheels can also be exposed to physical damage, like pavement damaged caused by scraping during a parking manoeuvre. The steel wheels are commonly protected by a plastic wheel cover that provides a barrier against physical damage.

Whether an alloy wheel is more susceptible to damage than steel wheels is not clear cut, however the cost of replacing one does throw up big differences. Most steel wheels can be replaced for less than the cost of alloys. Many alloy wheels of good quality cost twice as much, so you’ll want to take good care of them. For Alloy Wheel Repair Bradford, contact a site like Phat Wheels, specialists in Alloy Wheel Repair Bradford.

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Just because steel wheels are out of sight though, doesn’t mean they are without issue. Steel wheels can also accumulate dirt, brake dust and moisture which builds up behind the wheel covers and lead to rust. Corrosion can spread to other parts of the driveline as well, such as the hub axle and wheel studs.

Corrosion is more of an appearance issue. Tyres can develop a slow leak if the tyre bead is not sealed tightly against the wheel because the wheel rim has been rusting too much. Sometimes the wheels may not sit properly on the hub, again causing wear and other alignment problems.