Besides the obvious enhancement of a car’s appearance the reason for installing custom wheels on your ride should be performance and handling. Custom wheels were first developed over 50 years ago when race car drivers created wheels made of magnesium because they were so much lighter than the steel ones and thus enhanced their performance and cut their race times significantly. This is where the term “Mags” comes from which is what they were called when I was a teenager and we were putting them on our Firebirds and Camaros for street racing.
Most Mags are not suitable for daily driving because they are more brittle and easily broken than regular wheels and because of the oxidation magnesium wheels need almost constant cleaning and polishing. This is why companies today use other materials to manufacture custom wheels for the automotive industry.
The reduced weight factor is still one of the key elements in modern custom wheels because the weight reduction allows for better acceleration and braking as well as better ride and handling overall. One thing that you need to keep in mind is not to go over the weight the original wheels were designed for or buy using gravity cast aluminum wheels because they tend to bend easily. The better choice is forged or low pressure cast aluminum wheels which are stronger even though they are more expensive.
One big benefit of custom wheels is that due to their construction they almost eliminate deflection of your tires so that they help prevent rollover from happening when you are going around a corner. The newer aluminum alloy wheels are much better at reducing heat as well which helps to keep your brakes cooler. The way that most custom wheels are made with large openings helps in this process as well by increasing the flow of air while you are driving.
Due to the huge increase in popularity of custom wheels today there is no shortage of variety in styles and sizes of wheels available on the market. Custom wheel makers are constantly creating new styles and coming up with newer alloys that are stronger and lighter. When I was growing up there were only a few options you had, now there are literally hundreds of different styles, alloys, and finishes to choose from including the option of having wheels custom color matched to the color of your vehicle.
As I mentioned above, you want to be careful with increasing the size of the wheels as this can not only add weight but can throw off the calibration of things on your vehicle such as your speedometer. This is why you will see many people who go with a larger wheel using a low profile tire that not only keeps the overall weight down but also stays close to the original overall size of the tire and wheel that the vehicle came with. If you increase the size too much it can also affect your transmission shifting, cause problems with braking systems, and reduce fuel economy.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about custom wheels as well as custom after market wheels at http://www.vintagewheelsplus.com