The Technology Behind Automobile Wheels and Tires

Choosing Custom Wheels and Tires For Your Vehicle

As any auto enthusiast knows, owning a cool car usually isn’t a one-step process. Sure, you can buy a Mercedes or a Lexus off the lot and call it good, but it’s going to be the factory standard. Custom rims and tires won’t be included, which means your car will be exactly like thousands of others out there on the road. In order to get your ride to truly turn heads, you need to expand your imagination beyond what the original manufacturer had in mind.

There are several ways to personalize your whip to get it to stand out. Custom lighting, high-end sound systems, and dark window tint are all great ways to elevate your ride from standard to superior. For your money though, the apex of custom car components - the absolute pinnacle - are custom wheels and tires.

Wheels and Rims 

Let’s clarify some terminology so we’re all on the same page. “Wheel” and “Rim” are two different things. We know some people use the terms interchangeably, but for the purposes of this blog, just know that the rim is a component (the outermost edge) of the wheel. Other parts of the wheel consist of the spokes, center disc, and center cap.

When it comes to shopping for custom wheels, there are many big-name options you can go with. Rotiform, Black Rhino, Niche, Fuel, American Force, Method, Moto, XD, KMC, and Dub Wheels are just some of the premium brands that have established themselves as tastemakers in the wheel and rim space. At the end of the day though, choosing which custom wheel is right for you boils down to a couple key questions.

Which Wheels Look the Best? 

Clearly, this is a subjective question with many right answers, but what type of vehicle you have is going to narrow down your selection. Trucks, SUVs, and compact cars generally don’t have much overlap. The wheel you can put on a Range Rover won’t fit on a BMW i8, so start with vehicle type, make, and model to narrow down your wheel search.

Once you’ve done that, you can focus on the aesthetic factor - the look and feel. Maybe you like lots of spokes or an intricate pattern on your wheels. Or perhaps you want to go the minimalist route with no spokes. Consider the color and finish of the metal and how that will pair up with the paint job of the car. It’s going to take a lot of browsing around, but just like with clothing or car shopping, “when you know, you know.”

What Are the Wheels Made From? Comparing Steel Versus Aluminum 

It can be easy to get so caught up in the fashion of the wheel that you forget about the function. For those of you not familiar, steel weighs more than aluminum alloy, and decreasing the tire weight will likely change the way the car handles.

To put it simply, having lighter tires means there’s less to stop while braking and less to push forward when accelerating. Custom wheels aren’t just an aesthetic benefit, but can improve fuel economy and help your brakes last longer. Consult your wheel installation specialist for details and always insist on a test drive post-installation to ensure everything is in working order.

Choosing the Right Tires 

Unlike wheels, tires (the rubber) are all about function and very little to do with how they look. They are arguably the most important aspect of your car considering they’re doing the brunt of the work. Your tires are in contact with the road 100% of the time, so it’s important to choose them wisely.

Also Read: 7 Vital Transportation Industry Trends

Certain Tires for Certain Weather 

The weather in San Diego is going to be different than that of rainy Seattle or snowy Green Bay. When choosing tires, ask yourself what weather patterns - and by extension, street conditions - you’re most likely to encounter. 

If you’re living in California, which tends to have consistently good weather, then you’ll want to go with a summer tire. These feature a wider tread and softer rubber compound, which is going to allow your vehicle to handle better in both dry and wet conditions without compromising traction.

For places that have a true winter - many days or weeks of consistent cold, snow, and ice - then a winter tire is what you need. Winter tires feature a rubber compound designed to remain flexible in colder temperatures. They also have the appropriate tread for gripping snow and ice, which can make all the difference when driving on an incline. You should switch out your all-season tires with winter ones when the weather consistently drops below 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live in a place that is occasionally hit by winter weather, then an “all-season” tire is going to be the better choice. They achieve moderate traction when driving on snow or ice, and generally handle well in wet and dry conditions. Consider an all-season tire the happy medium between a summer tire and a winter tire.

Shopping for Custom Wheels and Tires

You should now have enough information to begin your shopping process for custom wheels and tires with confidence.

Remember to do your research when browsing for wheels and tires. How something looks isn’t nearly as important as how your car is going to drive once it’s installed, so be conscious of factors like size, weight, tread patterns, and weather during your search. Narrow things down to a top three. From there, you should reach out to a custom wheel and tire specialist to see which set-up is going to work best for your vehicle, budget, and personal aesthetic.