It seems like just about every car on the road today has a set of aftermarket wheels. Some look fantastic, while others are just nightmares. A good set of wheels can change the look and feel of your ride, increase performance and enhance it’s value, but this is if, and only if they are chosen correctly. Over the years wheel and tire sizes have increase dramatically. For instance, back in the 1960′s most cars came stock with 14-inch wheels and hubcaps, the 70′s went to larger 15-inch wheels and then in the 1980′s we saw the emergence of 16-incher’s. It wasn’t until the 1990′s though when the aftermarket wheel scene really took off. All of a sudden we had 17, 18 and 19-inch wheels and then in the first part of the new millennium we saw the introduction of the DUB or 20-inch wheel. I remember when I first saw a 20-inch wheel on a car and was like, what the f*ck was that! Back then it wasn’t all that common, but today they’re all over the place. For those who are uneducated in the process, there are few elements when buying wheels that you really need to look at. First you need to define the application for which the wheels are going to be used, second is to determine your fitment parameters and lastly you need to pick out a style that suits your ride.
• STEP 1: Define the Application
Be honest and ask yourself what you’re going to use these new wheels for. For example if you have a car that sees duty as a weekend track toy you may want to stay with original OEM sizes, but perhaps go with a lighter wheel to cut down on rotating mass. If it’s a show car and weight really isn’t a concern, then your biggest issue is style. If however the wheels are for a daily driver, then you want to find a good aftermarket wheel manufacturer that produces a quality forged wheel that can stand up to the rigors of everyday driving.
• STEP 2: Fitment Parameters
Rims don’t mean a damn thing if they don’t fit on your car. Some people assume that all rims will fit on all rides but sadly, this is not the case. For example the odds of a 20-inch wheel fitting neatly on a Honda Civic is slim to none. Can you make it fit? Possibly, but not without modifying just about everything under the wheel well. Keep in mind also that manufacturers spend millions, upon millions of dollars on R & D to make sure that a certain size wheel works perfectly on that vehicle. So, while you think you may be smarter then the manufacturers, odds are you’re not. Also remember that when you’re looking at fitment you also want to consider the wheels overall mass. I always laugh when I see SUV’s rolling on 26′s and then behind the wheel are these little itty-bitty stock brakes. If you’re going to go for a big wheel and tire combo just remember that you’re adding A LOT of rotating mass to the car. That means you’re automatically screwing with the vehicles alignment, handling characteristics, braking, acceleration and calibration of the speedometer, so you best consult a professional before simply slapping wheels on your car.
1. Things to Remember.
– Will it fit in the wheel-well
– What is the correct backspacing (everyone messes this up)
– What is the OEM correct bolt pattern
– Is there a good selection of tires available
– Do the wheels rub anything at full lock
• STEP 3: Style
Remember when people went out and put “Spinners” on their cars. Quite honestly it was one of the dumbest automotive trends that I’ve ever seen and I thank God everyday that it’s dead. The style of the wheel you choose can either make or break your car. Today there are rims out there in just about every style imaginable from a host of different manufacturers. Keep in mind though that the rims you put on your car are a reflection of your taste, so be careful when choosing. Understand also that if you don’t want to purchase an off-the-shelf product that you can have a one-off custom set of wheels crafted. I had this done for my Daytona by a company called Proformance Industries in New Rochelle, NY. Not only did they make me exactly what I wanted, but in the end I got something that was 100% unique, while at the same time getting the professional guidance I needed to help me make the right decision.
Obviously at days end the wheels you put on your car are entirely up to you. Just remember that before you purchase anything to do your research as it will make the entire process of fitting new shoes to your ride that much more enjoyable.
* All Photo’s Courtesy of Proformance Industries.