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They are lightweight, better conductors of heat and fit more snugly than steel variants. But most importantly they improve fuel efficiency...No wonder aluminium alloy wheels are fast becoming the preferred accessory of car consumers
IT'S now considered a wonder material for autoville. Aluminium, which is increasingly replacing steel in car factories across the world (including some of the more premium names in the business like BMW and Mercedes Benz), is also the preferred material for wheels, both automotive and otherwise. Interestingly though, while car assemblies use aluminium for being lighter than steel, in wheels it's the strength and heat conduction properties of the metal that win out.
Friction between tyre and road surface generates heat which increases the temperature of the tyre, tube and even the brake assembly during motion. Alloy wheels enable faster dissipation of this builtup heat because aluminium is a good conductor of heat. That way tyres and tubes remain cooler which helps increase their life.
That is also why aluminium and tubeless tyres are a perfect match. And why alloy wheels are already recognised as the technology of the future. During manufacture, aluminium alloy wheels are machined in highly sophisticated CNC machines. This results in high precision wheels with minimum variation in dimensional tolerance unlike forged and pressed steel wheels where dimensional variation is much larger. Aluminium wheels therefore fit more snugly to tyres and tubes and are therefore recommended as being ideally suitable for fitment with tubeless tyres.
The other reason why aluminium wheels are fast becoming the standard in Motown is because of their load bearing capabilities. Aluminium mixed with silicon and other metals makes alloy wheels lighter yet tougher and thus suitable for extreme load conditions. In addition, car companies look are additional quality parametres which the wheels must match up to.
For instance, Hyundai wheels are subjected to 100% X-ray testing and 100% leak testing which ensures that minute cracks and micro air-holes are totally absent. These rigorous testing procedures are what have turned Hindalco's AURA alloy wheels into the number one alloy wheel brand in India.
It uses modern casting technology LPDC and are 100% X-ray and 100% leak-tested for safety with more than 30 exciting designs and wheel diameter from 12" to 17", multiple paint finishes & multiple machined finishes. Each wheel tested on Indian vehicles by ARAI which is why Hindalco is an approved supplier to top car companies like Maruti-Suzuki, Tata Motors, Ford, Honda Siel General Motors, M&M, Fiat, HM-Mitsubishi.
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These international quality wheels meet the toughest TUV(Germany) specifications and are manufactured for specific cars and road tested before being launched in the market. They are available in a wide design range for all Indian cars besides a host of foreign vehicles.
But alloy wheels are becoming the preferred accessory in Motown for another more practical reason. Just like car companies are using aluminium to reduce the weight of the vehicle and improve fuel efficiency, alloy do pretty much the same for pretty much the same reason.
It is well known that lower the weight of the vehicle lower is the fuel consumption. However what is less known is the fact that reducing the unsprung weight of the vehicle (weight of tyres, axles, differential, shock absorbers, wheels) reduces the fueal consumption far more drastically. This is the reason why a small reduction in the weight due to replacement of steel wheels by alloy wheels results in significant increase in fuel efficiency.
So why don't car companies offer alloy wheels as a factory fitment option? The answer lies in the duty structure. The impact of government duties on an alloy wheel sold as an accessory is significantly lower than the levies on a wheel fitted inside the OEM factory gate.
This added to the fact that steel wheels are cheaper than alloy wheels inhibits the OEMs from fitting alloy wheels in their lower segment cars. Premium cars though routinely come fitted with alloy wheels and some mid-segment models also offer them in their top-end variants.
However consumers should be careful while picking up alloy wheels from the grey market. Most of the cheap imported alloy wheels found in the domestic market are of lower quality, are untested and made using the ancient gravity cast process. They offer no warranty cover and if one of them are damaged, replacement of the same design may be difficult. Also many of the importers have absolutely no technical credentials and zero safety considerations. Nor are these wheels been made specifically for Indian cars and road tested on them. All of which makes them a dangerous accessory for your car.
Aluminium alloy wheels are lighter than conventional steel wheels which results in improved fuel efficiency, faster pickup, enhanced mobility.
Aluminium is a better conductor of heat than steel. Therefore alloy wheels and the brake system are cooled faster. This leads to increased life of tyre, tube and brake system.
Alloy wheels are far more tougher than steel wheels which prevent rim bending. Hence they are safer.
Aluminium is a better shock absorber. Thus riding on alloy wheels is more comfortable than steel wheels.
Aluminium by property is rust proof and corrosion resistant. This prevents frequent maintenance costs like repainting and balancing.
Alloy wheels enhance the looks of a vehicle dramatically. In fact research has shown that besides the body , the most important part of a vehicle contributes to its looks are its wheels.