With how cool aftermarket alloy wheels look, it’s no surprise that the aftermarket wheel market is growing and growing. In fact, it’s over $6 billion a year and is expected to grow 3% more every year in the US, Germany, and Japan.
That said, it’s in the best interest of these companies to throw all kinds of information your way about wheel weight to convince you that heavier is better, or lighter is better. It boils down to them convincing you that whatever they sell offers better performance or is currently trending.
But can you tell the difference between marketing tricks and real performance gain? Keep reading to find out if lighter wheels really are better for your ride!
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The Weight of a Wheel: Does It Matter at All?
Let’s debunk a classic claim about weight. For every 100 pounds you ditch from your car it may go one-tenth faster on the strip. That said, it may go two-tenths, or not make a difference at all.
The main contributing factors are aerodynamics, horsepower, and traction. Your power means nothing if your Enkei wheels aren’t pushing that power into the pavement.
Likewise, all the power in the world won’t overcome bad aerodynamics. You’ll get to a speed where the power of your vehicle can’t overcome the frictional forces of your poor aerodynamics.
Also, not all weight has equal importance, even if it’s all the same on a scale.
Rotating weight, reciprocating weight — that is, parts that spin or parts that go back and forth — may be more important in the minds of some racers. For wheels, this may be even more true.
A flywheel stores energy for hydroelectric and other power plants. Your engine is also a kind of powerplant, that uses kinetic energy instead of electrical energy. You can almost imagine that each of your wheels is like a flywheel.
The heavier a flywheel is, the harder it is to get it to stop. Frictional forces of wind affect it less than a lightweight wheel. However, heavier things also take more energy to break the moment of intertia (a body at rest).
That means it’s harder to stop your car when it’s moving and harder to get it to move.
Making Sure Your Wheel Weight is Low
Not all wheels are created equally. Your OEM wheels are obviously the right weight for your car as determined by the manufacturer. They could be better, but they do a good enough job and are easy to mass-produce on the factory level.
Car manufacturers don’t lose money on them and get decent enough performance for the average consumer. However, they could be better.
Most aftermarket wheels you see for flashy rims actually add quite a lot of weight to your car. It’s important to go for a trusted manufacturer of aftermarket wheels, like Enkei wheels, no matter your vehicle.
Truck wheels, SUV wheels, and sedan wheels all go through different strains, but there are lightweight, durable alloys out there. Don’t plan on getting lightweight durable wheels for cheap, though — quality costs.
Lightening the Load
We hope this helped you determine that a lighter wheel weight is in fact a better wheel, as long as it is also durable. No matter if it’s a truck tire or a car tire, they only perform as well as the wheel they’re attached to. Make that wheel a good wheel.
Did you learn something about wheels, tires, and basic principles of kinetic energy? That’s great, but you need to know more. Keep browsing our articles for the latest in automotive news and tips!