One of the best ways to set your car apart from the others is changing the wheels (cast aluminum) and the tires. We often see brand new cars at the dealer showrooms in its stock condition. Sometimes, we also see a variant, or should we say, a higher-end model with wheels that are different. The simple change alters the look and stance of the car.
This simple change gives more character to a car more than anything else—that’s just my opinion. I have seen two cars side-by-side, same color, same wheels but different tire design. Same width, ride height, but different tread design made the difference. Now, when you go around the different tire and wheel shops, the choices become endless. But don’t just slap on a set of wheels and tires and think you can just drive away—there are a few details you would have to look at.
If your car is brand new, check the warranty first. There are some car brands that allow vehicle owners to change wheels with no warranty issues. But there are some that do not recommend it. Why? For one reason—clearance. We see a lot of cars with wheels filling up the whole wheel-well. Yes, it looks good. But what happens when you hit a bump and the suspension bottoms out (or is fully compressed). There is a possibility the tire might hit the inner wheel well or the fender lip. Another issue is ride quality. The change could alter the dynamics of the suspension. Simply changing the tires could also do the same, because although the tires may have the same dimensions, their tread compound may be different. Underchassis components may also get affected.
The wheel itself can be a can of worms. The stock wheels are rated to a standard that the manufacturer adheres to. It is guaranteed to perform to a set of parameters that will ensure safe driving. Speed, load, impact and fatigue are just some of the issues. Aftermarket wheels also follow guidelines to ensure safety. But not all aftermarket brands follow the rules. So buyers beware! A products that doesn’t have marking of date, who or where it was made, is questionable. Its not fun if your wheels all of a sudden fail when you’re driving on the highway. It looks good… but that’s it. Even buying second hand wheels can be risky, because while they may be branded they may have had a hard life. Cracks can be repaired or covered up.
Some manufacturers offer OEM upgraded wheels. Pricey, yes. But chances are they have been tested to the point on how will they perform in a crash. I have read that a company mounted an oversized wheel to a SUV and crashed it. The crumple zone worked and the wheel held. But because of the size of the wheel, it penetrated the cabin through the wheel well.
You want affordable wheels for your ride—go for it. The wheels on my Paj are second hand. The tires are second hand. But I am planning to get brand new tires soon. What brand you ask??? That’s another can of worms I’m going to open next time.
For those who are thinking of scrimping on the wheels just because most of the budget went to the engine – guy with an Evo wanted to preserve the OEM wheels. So he gets a set of unbranded mags and new tires. Then he mounts them on the Evo and mashes the gas pedal. While doing so, he notices a slight vibration at the steering wheel. So he goes back to the shop to have the wheels and tire rebalanced. Did it several times but the vibration was still there. After a while, he decides to mount the old wheels. He makes a pass and the vibration was gone. I’m not saying the unbranded mags were garbage. But if you want performance, you got to get something that can perform.