When you see how many car enthusiasts fit custom wheels, one question immediately comes to mind: Shouldn't the original wheels be the best wheels you can get for a car? After all, nobody knows the vehicle better than its manufacturer. For many drivers the original wheels are perfect. When the manufacturer of your vehicle decided what wheels to mount as original equipment, he didn't have the dedicated car enthusiast in mind. The goal was to satisfy that statistical average customer who wants a low price, decent comfort, decent performance and decent looks. This is not good enough for a true car enthusiast who wants stunning looks and stunning performance. A true enthusiast is willing to pay a little extra to get what he wants, and is willing to sacrifice a little comfort to get a car that performs well enough to match his driving skills. That is why there is a big market for lightweight custom wheels. For example, custom wheels by Lexani offer a choice of designs, fitments and properties that cater to individual tastes and needs or car enthusiasts.
It is easy to understand why many people want wheels that look better than the originals, but custom wheels can offer much more than just looks. Original wheels are, with exception for some high end sports cars, an inch or two too small to give the performance that car enthusiasts desire. They are chosen to give the everyday driver a comfortable air cushion between the road and the wheel, not for road feel or fast and precise cornering.
The high tire sides of the original wheels flex and give less precision in steering response than the stiff low sides of a low-profile tire. The flexing tire walls of high profile tires can also lift part of the tire tread off the road surface on hard cornering, seriously reducing the car's grip on the road.
Performance driving is very different from the everyday commute and requires different wheels and tires.To avoid a complete rebuild of the suspension and the vehicle's computer system you must stay with some key measurements that the vehicle manufacturer set as design parameters:
- The total wheel perimeter must stay within tight limits, very close to the perimeter of the original wheels, as this is a measurement used by the on-board computer system to feed correct data to the speedometer, odometer, anti-lock braking system, the traction control and the stability control systems. For 4wd vehicles this is also a key measurement that the vehicle computer uses to decide how much power to send to which wheel.
- The wheel offset (the distance between the center of the tire tread and the wheel mounting plate) must stay the same as original, or you will lose the directional stability and the precise steering of your vehicle.
- The wheels must not be so wide that they hit the bodywork on bends and bumps.
The solution is to get bigger rims, with the correct off-set for your vehicle, and fit low profile tires. This will give your vehicle the desired high performance big-wheel look, while keeping key measurements to the original specs. If you have chosen wisely, your new wheels will not only make your vehicle look much better, they will also make it perform much better. The wide low profile tires will take a firm grip on the pavement and hurl you down the road, where the original radial tires would spin, smoke and scream in desperation trying to get you off the mark.
Your performance wheels will take your car through corners as if it was a go-kart, where the original wheels would have you fight for your life to stay on the road.
The low profile tires might give you a slightly harder ride, but the lighter weight of true performance wheels will let the suspension keep the wheels down on the ground on uneven surfaces where the original wheels would bounce around wildly. Keeping the rubber on the ground is key to performance and control. That is what performance wheels are all about. Browse the digital shelves in our wheel shop to find the wheel that is perfect for you and your vehicle. If you don't find your favorite wheel in your favorite finish, give us a call. The CARiD custom wheel facility can provide any finish you want on the wheels of your choice.
by Peter Altrem on