Do You Know About These 5 Types of Wheels You’ll See in Your Auto Career?

Though they may all appear to be quite similar, car wheels are created using many different materials and manufacturing styles. During your auto career, you’ll encounter different types of wheels that will require different types of servicing. You’ll need to know how to spot their differences so you can properly diagnose problems, estimate service costs, and perform maintenance. 

There are a few sets of norms and guidelines that govern the manufacturing of wheels, and most fall into a few basic categories. Read on to learn about five different types of wheels that you’ll encounter during your career in the automotive industry. 

Steel Wheels Are Inexpensive But Reliable 

Steel wheels, jokingly referred to as “steelies” by those in the auto industry, are largely self-explanatory. They’re made from a steel sheet that’s pressed using hydraulic equipment and is then forged into the shape required. 

Steel wheels are standard on most low-cost vehicles because they’re inexpensive to manufacture and produce. The downside is that these wheels are heavier than other types and use more fuel. They also grant little flexibility in terms of design. 

Alloy Wheels: A Luxury Option That Is Becoming More Affordable

Alloy wheels are becoming increasingly popular, threatening to replace steel wheels completely. They’re more expensive to produce and used to be reserved only for the most expensive cars, but recent progressions within manufacturing have made their production cheaper. As a result, they’re being encountered much more frequently during careers in the auto industry.

Alloy wheels are becoming less expensive to produce, thus more common

Alloy wheels are made of lightweight materials, typically aluminum along with a material like magnesium, nickel, or titanium. Because they are lighter, they use less fuel than steel wheels. They’re also better heat conductors, meaning they can dissipate the heat created by the braking system more effectively. 

The material is more malleable, creating more design possibilities, but that’s also a potential downside. These wheels are more liable to crack or fracture when faced with strong forces, whereas steel will usually just bend. 

Chrome Wheels Are Not What Students in Auto Mechanic Training Might Think  

Contrary to what you might think, chrome wheels aren’t made from solid chrome. They’re generally alloy wheels with a primer of chrome applied over the top. The chrome layer makes for a shiny, eye-catching finish that’s useful for showing off luxury or sports cars. 

Not only does the chrome makes the wheels more beautiful, but it also helps counter oxidization, so the wheels are less prone to rust. The disadvantages are that the chrome scratches easily and the primer will make the wheels just slightly heavier. 

One-Piece, Two-Piece, and Three-Piece Wheels 

Besides the different kinds of materials wheels are made from, they are also created in different ways. Most wheels are all cast or forged as one single piece of metal. One-piece wheels are stiffer and allow for less creative freedom than their counterparts. However, they’re the most common kind of wheel that you’ll see in your auto career

Wheels can be created in one, two, or three different pieces

The other options are two-piece or three-piece wheels. Two-piece wheels are cast or forged in two pieces, where the centre portion is one and the outer is the other, and they’re bolted together. These wheels are stronger than the one-pieces and allow for combinations of different alloys or finishes. Three-piece wheels take it a step further by dividing the wheel rim in two to allow for adjustability in width. This makes them slightly heavier and weaker, and they’re relatively uncommon. 

Spinners and Floaters Are a Creative Option for Drivers

Auto owners can be more creative with their wheels by using spinners or floaters. They’re both derived from the same idea: a piece of metal that’s placed over the hub and attached to the wheel with ball bearings. 

Ball bearings have very little friction, so it allows spinners to continue to spin even after the car has stopped moving. Floaters are similar but are weighted on one side, so they never move. Spinners and floaters serve no practical purpose, but they make for visually interesting additions to wheels. 

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