Redefining the Wheel

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Part of the joy in owning a car is getting to customize it—you can paint it, update the interior or swap out the wheels for something more “you.” In this Customization 101 blog series we’re taking a look at some different ways you can express yourself by personalizing your vehicle.  

Our focus today is going to be spent exploring the idea of “custom rims” and clarifying some misconceptions around the surprisingly complex wheel. 

What is a Rim? 

When people say they want “custom rims,” they’re often referring to wheel discs. It’s a common misconception that the rim refers to the complete metal part that makes up the wheel, but it’s actually the wheel disc that’s the decorative cool-looking piece. The rim refers to the part that holds the tire on the wheel. It works to make sure the tire retains air.  

What’s a Wheel Disc? 

The wheel disc connects the rim and axle hub, however a simple Google search shows that “wheel disc” is not the preferred search term even if it is technically correct. Most of the results involve bicycles. So, to make things simple, we’re going to refer to the wheel as a whole in this blog (sans tire). 

Do Custom Wheels Impact Performance 

Now that we’re all on the same page about wheels, let’s talk about customization. Visually, custom wheels can look awesome and add a sporty or luxurious feel to your vehicle. But what about efficiency? Can a custom wheel impact your car’s performance?  

According to Reference.com, the answer is yes. Apparently upsized rims can decrease the fuel efficiency of your car by up to 10% and decrease the performance by 4%. This is because the added weight puts additional strain on the vehicle which results in a sacrifice in efficiency.  

However, you can still get custom wheels without sacrificing efficiency, you just have to make sure you size them accordingly.  

Getting the Right Wheels 

To ensure you have the right wheels, check with the manufacturer for specific sizing instructions or talk to an auto professional. Websites such as CARiD have great selections to look through (including wheels for muscle cars, luxury vehicles and classics). If you want something that makes an impression, we’d recommend trying spinners/floaters. 

Here are some things to consider when getting custom wheels:  

  • The metal makes a difference (chrome wheels weigh more than aluminum which impacts performance). 
  • Not all custom wheels are street legal (pay attention to your state laws). 
  • Things can get expensive pretty quickly—pay attention to your budget. 

The only bad thing about getting custom wheels is that you’ll rarely see them in action (unless you watch someone else drive your car). But it’s a pretty cool way to express your individuality.  

If you need a car to slap some new wheels on, check out the selection at a Copart auction.  

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