Wheel Construction: Not All are Created Equal

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
The Custom Assembly of O.Z. 3-Piece Wheels Are you in the market for custom wheels? Other than wheel size, style and price, you may want to research how your new wheels are made. Buying new wheels can be a significant investment and you want to be sure to get your money's worth before spending your hard earned cash.

Consider Use: Vehicle demands, road conditions and driving style are all important considerations. If you are driving a sports car such as a Porsche, Corvette or BMW and enjoy track days from time-to-time, you may need a lighter/stronger wheel.

Construction Methods: The reality is that not all aluminum wheels are created equally. Strength and weight of a wheel are partly determined by how a wheel is made, not only the material it is made of. The three primary methods of O.E. and aftermarket wheel construction are gravity cast, pressure cast and forged.

Gravity Cast: Gravity casting is the most common and least expensive wheel manufacturing process. This is the process of pouring molten aluminum into a mold using only gravity to assist. This results in the heaviest and weakest of the manufacturing methods. 

Pressure Cast:
Pressure casting is the process of introducing positive pressure to assist in the flow of molten aluminum through the mold. This creates a lighter/stronger product due to higher density than gravity cast at a minimum cost increase. Tech Article on Wheel Construction

Forged:
 Forging is the process of forcing a semi-solid piece of aluminum between the forging dies under extreme pressure. This produces the lightest and strongest product of the three primary methods. Most of the 2- and 3-piece custom wheels and race wheels in the market are forged. The downside is that due to the extensive tooling required to create a finished wheel, forged wheels are considerably more expensive than either pressure or gravity cast. 
 
Bottom Line: I have spoken to many customers who wish they would have invested in a higher quality product after bad experiences with lower quality ones. The key to making an informed choice is to understand the advantages of each. To ensure you are getting the best product for your needs, consult a sales specialists to find out how the wheel you are interested in is constructed. 

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