Top Reasons to Consider Professional Alloy Wheel Repair
Alloy wheels are popular for their eye-pleasing appearance, but did you know they have practical benefits, as well? Sometimes you have to repair alloy wheels when damage occurs, to keep them functioning properly, and more often, people have them repaired for cosmetic reasons. After all, you pay a pretty penny for them to make your vehicle look cooler, and when they get “curb rash” or other damage, it usually costs a lot less to repair them than it does to replace them. In this article, we’ll go through the basics of professional alloy wheel repair, why it’s usually a good option when you have damage, and how it can help maintain driving comfort, brake performance and fuel efficiency.
Why Alloy Wheels are Worth Maintaining
They’re More Efficient than Steel Wheels
Alloy wheels are manufactured with greater precision than traditional steel wheels, so they’re more perfectly round, providing a smoother ride. They’re formed from lighter metals than steel, so they add less weight to the vehicle. They also have more accurate lug placement than traditional wheels, so they align more perfectly with the vehicle’s lugs. These reductions in weight and rotational friction improve fuel economy, so alloy wheels are a “greener” alternative for environmentally conscious drivers.
The more perfect roundness of alloy wheels also improves traction, which allows the vehicle to hug the terrain more closely, enhancing vehicle handling and decreasing “wheel hop.” This consistent road contact also improves sound and vibration isolation, providing a quieter driving experience. When you damage an alloy wheel, you may actually feel a difference in smoothness and handling. With some types of damage, repair is a necessity in order to maintain these efficiencies. With others, the repair is more a matter of cosmetics and preserving your investment. Both are good reasons.
Improved Brake Durability
Aluminum and magnesium conduct temperature better than steel, which more efficiently dissipates heat from the brakes. Add to this the fact that alloy wheels tend to have more open designs for better air flow, and the heat dissipation is even greater. This improves brake performance and life span.
Professional Alloy Wheel Repair Versus Do-It-Yourself Options
Professional wheel repair technicians use precision metal-working equipment, and they employ industrial masking systems, space-age fillers, professional paint-matching technology and high-tech coatings to overhaul alloy surfaces, correcting structural damage and restoring wheels to their original, bold designs.
A cheaper alternative to professional repair is a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit, available online and from local auto supply stores, with prices ranging from a few dollars on up. Although generally inexpensive, these kits rarely facilitate proper texture and paint matching and are more of a band-aid than an actual wheel repair. DIY kits may also lead to problems later because a proper repair requires specific equipment and skilled craftsmen to insure that the wheels are brought back to their full cosmetic and mechanical integrity. Professional technicians can reapply corrosion protective coatings to help preserve the wheel and extend its life span.
Professionals can also go beyond cosmetic repairs, in some cases correcting the mechanical soundness of the wheel. In cases of more severe damage, they can reshape the wheels so that driver comfort and wheel performance are restored.
A Brief History of Alloy Wheels
Alloy wheels were first produced in the 1920s by casting aluminum, magnesium or a hybrid of both. Uncommon and expensive at the time, alloy wheels were usually manufactured for high-end sports cars because of their lighter weight and superior handling. The “mag” wheel remained popular through the 1950s and 1960s but was still only available in limited numbers. It wasn’t until later that advances in alloy casting made them more cost effective, and they soon became the wheel of choice for a wide variety of motorsports because of their superior performance characteristics.
As manufacturing techniques became more streamlined and costs continued to drop, sales became more widespread among normal consumers who wanted a lighter and more visually appealing wheel. Alloy wheels offer numerous finishes and intricate designs thanks to the verstility of the casting process, and their popularity continues to grow.
An Investment Worth Maintaining
Alloy wheels are attractive, they improve driving efficiency, and they make your ride look cool. They’re light but bold, they help maintain brake durability and improve tire grip on the surface of the road. Alloy wheel techniques have changed over the decades since their invention, becoming increasingly daring in design and more cost effective to consumers. Repair usually costs much less than replacement, and well-maintained wheels provide better driving safety, comfort and efficiency.