Alloy Wheels Set To Be Replaced!

Saturday, 5. April 2014

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When alloy wheels came onto the market they were revolutionary, they were smarter than the old steel wheels, didn’t need wheel covers that had a habit of flying off if you took a corner faster than 20 miles per hour, they were lighter and by simply changing the design of alloys fitted to your suped up Ford Fiesta you would change it’s whole appearance, like changing the design of glasses that you may wear.

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The downside, from my point of view, is the ease with which they scuff. The light weight alloy looks good, is lighter and these days easy enough to fit tyres onto but when a lease car is returned this is the one part of the car that causes most disputes. Scuffed alloys are not fair wear and tear as many drivers believe.

Hit the pavement and damage the alloy it must be repaired before it is returned or you will be charged for a repair. If you opt for the cheapest lease rates you should also be aware that in order to return a decent profit some leasing companies will even try to charge for replacement wheels (check your agreement).

A smart repair to an alloy would be around £30 – £50 per wheel but not good news if you have scuffed all four wheels. However, a better solution may be arriving soon. BMW have developed a new carbon fibre wheel following along behind the carbon tech designed i3 and i8.

Lightweight production boss at BMW, Franz Storkenmaier has been using carbon waste from the car production to develop other products including a carbon fibre steering wheel and combined the carbon with plastic to develop other lightweight components. But his main priority is the carbon fibre wheel rim. We saw some initial ideas fitted on the 2011 Mini Rocketman concept car.

With over a third weight saving over a traditional alloy they will have a measured improvement on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption when fitted. Herr Storkenmaier pointed out that the weight saving was the best sort of saving as it is ‘unsprung mass’ (no I don’t either), he added ‘Carbon Fibre wheels are more damage resistant, scratch them and it’s easier to polish out than an alloy.’

He pointed out that he has two wheels under development, one completely carbon and another with an alloy rim and carbon spokes. BMW has also added that the wheels, whilst lighter, are also stronger. Unfortunately we may not see them in full production for a while as they have yet to be certified by European regulators. By Graham Hill

BMW E63 M6 Coupé Wheel

BMW E63 M6 Coupé Wheel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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