WHEEL TALK

11Feb 2019

Ever wonder what the Load Index and Speed Rating on your tires mean? Ever wondered if they were important to know? Well, wonder no more. In today’s blog article, we will talk about what speed rating and load index are and why they matter to your safety.

Load Index

The load index is a two or three digit number assigned to a tire’s load carrying capabilities. The higher the number, the larger the weight the wheel can carry. Inversely, the smaller the number, the lower the amount the wheel is capable of hauling. Using the chart above, and using 255 40R17 94W tires as our example, the load index would be 94. A load index of 94 identifies the tire’s load carrying capabilities to be 1,477 lb (pounds) per tire.

One should be careful when purchasing new wheels because tires of the same size can have different load indexes. If you buy tires with a higher load index than what was originally on your car, you have increased your car’s load capacity. If you purchase tires with a lower load index than the original tires, you have lowered the load carrying capacity of your car. Although there is nothing wrong with buying tires with a higher load index, you should be cautious of buying tires with a lower load index. You may be accustomed to carrying a higher load than your tires will be able to support.

Speed Rating 

Contrary to what you may believe, the speed rating isn’t based merely the maximum speed at which a tire can be safely driven. The tire’s grip, cornering ability, ride comfort, and wear durability, are all taken into account when determining a wheel’s speed rating. As such, as the speed rating increases so do the tire’s grip and cornering abilities. At the same time, the tire’s tread life will decrease. This is highly evident in car racing, such as Formula 1, Nascar and Indycar racing. The car can travel at incredibly high speeds; however, the tires have very littel tread life. A lower speed rating will generally mean the tire has a higher tread life. This can be witnessed in 18-wheelers. Using the chart above and our example 255 40R17 94W tire, the speed rating would be W. A W speed rating indicates the tire can be safely driven at speeds up to 168 mph.

It is crucial to note that speed ratings are only applicable to undamaged and unmodified tires. Other factors including under-inflation and over-inflation will change the tires speed rating and their reliability. Most tire manufacturers state repaired tires that have been punctured no longer maintain the original speed rating because the original structural strength has been compromised.

If you are unsure about which tires to get for you vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact us at 714.239.1122. Our highly trained sales team will be more than happy to assist you.

04Feb 2019

Are you tired of your chrome rims looking old, dirty, and not shining to their full potential? After today’s article, people will be asking you where you purchased your new set of chrome wheels. Little will people know, all you did was adequately clean and polish them.

First things first: we must wash the wheel with the least aggressive method. Get a bucket filled with warm water and car soap. Use a soft-bristled brush to help loosen any dirt or debris stuck on the wheel. Never use a hard-bristled brush, wire brush, or scrubbing pad to clean your wheels. These products could potentially damage the chrome plating and lead to pitting and rust. If your chrome wheels still have visible debris, water stains, or road grime, you may use a wheel cleaner spray. We strongly advise you to avoid wheel cleaners that contain any harsh chemicals, such as acids and ammonia. Do not to leave the product on for longer than recommended. Once clean, dry the wheel with a chamois or microfiber towel. Never let the wheel air dry, as this will likely create water spots.

Should your chrome wheels need a little tender loving care, follow these next steps. This process will help get rid of minor surface rust, corrosion, and hard water marks. As long as the wheel is not physically damaged, you should encounter no problem restoring your wheel to an almost like-new condition.

Making sure the wheel is thoroughly dry, we will move forward with a metal polish. There are polishes specifically designed for chrome wheels; however, an all-metal polish will work just fine. Keep in mind; however, if your wheels have a clear coat or powder coat, then we advise you to not continue with this process. The abrasives in the metal polish will eat through the clear coat and powder coat.

To assist with the process of bringing back your chrome wheels to life, you ultra-fine steel wool pads will come in handy. These wool pads are specifically graded 0000. It is crucial you only use Super-Fine/Ultra-Fine 0000 steel wool pads. If any other type of steel wool is used, you will most likely scratch the chrome.

Apply some metal polish onto the steel wool, and work your way around the wheel. Since the wool is flexible, you can stretch it and mold as required. Although this process is relatively gentle on the wheels, be careful not to apply too much pressure. Only use a little extra elbow grease when needed and in rust-covered sections. Each wheel should take about a minute or two, after which you should wipe off the residue with a terry towel. You should be able to immediately notice the difference in shine and clarity. Should some areas need extra work, you may apply more metal shine and work on the wheel.

Once properly polished, all the hard water marks and surface corrosion should be gone. The only thing that should stay behind is a very nice shiny gloss. A good indication of the quality of reflection is a reading test. Put the metal polish tube or steel wool bag next to the chrome and see if you can read it through the reflection. If you can, then the wheel has been duly and effectively restored. If not, then you may continue polishing the wheel.

Once the wheel is sufficiently polished, you will want to give the wheel a final rinsing with warm water. Any residue and steel shavings left on the wheel can create corrosion and rust on their own. If there is any stubborn residue, you may use soapy water. Drying with a microfiber or terry towel is the final step. Make sure you to get in between all the groove and ridges. Now install the wheel back on your car, and drive around to showcase your “new” wheels.

28Jan 2019

Ever wondered why wheels don’t come in different shapes? Such as why you can’t simply pick up square- or triangle-shaped wheels from your local wheel shop? Well, we are going to answer that specific question in today’s blog post.

Speed:
The circular shape of wheels and tires ensure that the vehicle can move fast. Wheels help the car move by rolling smoothly and without much drag. Their circular shape is the most appropriate one as they maintain a uniform and smooth contact with the surface. This constant contact with the road surface provides the wheels and tires with grip and traction that other shapes just can’t.

Any other shape other than round, such as triangular, square, or rectangular, has edges that would dig into the road. This would make the vehicle rather slow; not to mention they would increase the rolling resistance.

Fuel Efficiency:

As rolling resistance increases, fuel consumption by the engine increases too. It is, therefore, in our wallet’s best interest to get the least amount of rolling resistance. The smaller the number of sides a wheel has, the greater the rolling resistance. Triangular and square wheels would cause the engine to severely consume more gasoline because of the sharp edges. These edges would dig into the road surface and require extra energy to “undig” themselves out. As a result, a wheel’s circular shape offers the least amount of energy loss when converting rotational energy to kinetic energy.

Ride Comfort:
By definition, a circle is an infinite number of points equal in distance from a center. Wheels and tires use the same logic to smoothly and comfortably roll on the road surface. The lug nuts and bolts are tightened around the center of the wheel allowing for uniform movement.


With non-circular wheels, the car would jolt up and down because the edges and flat sides of the wheels would be of different distance from the wheel’s center. This would create an extremely bumpy and uncomfortable ride. The suspension would help with some of the movement, but it just won’t be enough.

If you would like a visual representation on precisely why square wheels are not used, check out this funny Mythbusters video!

21Jan 2019

Ever wondered what the wheel reconditioning process is like? Well look no further, today we will dive into the behind the scenes process.

Wheel reconditioning not only significantly improves a vehicle’s appearance, but it can also enhance the safety and reliability of your wheels by ensuring that there are no wheel defects and that the wheel is repaired for optimum performance.

The wheels are submerged in our stripping tank. As a chemical based stripper, it does an excellent job at removing the old finish, surface contaminants, and any existing paint from wheels without marring the surface. Should the wheel contain extra material or buildup, a sand blaster. The plastic urea in the sand blaster takes off the remaining finish and residue without damaging the wheel. With the wheel cleaned and bare, each wheel is thoroughly inspected for rust, cracks, bead seat wear, and bolt hole distortions. The wheel is sent back to the customer as too damaged for reconditioning if the wheel does not pass inspection.

Any damage, scrapes, and curb rash need to be repaired. Depending on the extent of the damage, we use one of two options. If it is a minor surface blemish, then it is just sanded by hand, and the wheel will look as good as new. If it is a deeper gauge, then further steps are required. The gauge needs to be prepared and filled with additional metal. Once the weld is allowed to completely dry, it is sanded.

The wheels are coated with a special primer. In addition, to helping the paint adhere much better to the wheel, the primer helps prevent against wheel corrosion and rust. As wheels enter our cutting edge spray booth, our paint is electrostatically charged and applied onto the wheel. This electrostatic charge ensures that a uniform mil thickness is sprayed to each wheel. The newly applied powder coat is cured in an oven for 30 minutes. The automated process ensures that the powder coat applied on each wheel cures for the same amount of time.

Once allowed to cool, a final inspection takes place. We use a digital mil gauge to measure and verify paint thickness. Our specialists also check for defects in the powder coat and for the “orange peel” effect. When the quality of the wheels meets our strict standards, the wheels are ready to go. They are labeled and shipped to our customers.

14Jan 2019

We have seen this before and are not strangers to the phenomenon: the wheels of a fast moving vehicle appear to move slowly and sometimes will even appear to spin backward. This is evident when an accelerating wheel will seem to rotate forward at first, but as the car gains more speed, the wheel will appear to slow down. As the vehicle moves faster, the wheel will then appear to spin backward. This goes against our logic because the wheels seem to be spinning backward when we know for a fact they are rotating forwards.

Wagon-Wheel Effect
What we are experiencing is the Wagon-Wheel Effect. It is an optical illusion in which a wheel appears to rotate differently from its correct position. This entails appearing to rotate slower, appearing stationary, or appearing to rotate in the opposite direction. The name comes from people first seeing this effect on wagon wheels in movies and on TV.

It is relatively easy to explain and straightforward to understand. Video cameras record footage by taking a series of pictures in quick succession. To those techy people out there, this is known as the “frame rate.” Most movie cameras use a frame rate of 24 frames per second and thus take 24 pictures per second. This frame rate is highly significant in understanding why a wheel appears to spin backward at high speeds. Suppose a 24 spoke wheel is being recording by a camera with a frame rate of 24 per second. When the rotation of the wheel’s spin matches the frame rate of the camera, the wheel will rotate quickly and will appear to be in the same position every time the camera captures a frame. In the end, the wheel will seem to be motionless.

If the wheel rotates faster than the frame rate, then the wheel will appear to spin backward instead of forwards. In each frame, the spokes have rotated and seem to be a few degrees behind the position it was at when the camera last imaged it. This is commonly known as the Reverse-Motion effect. If the wheel rotates even faster, the spoke will appear to be a few degrees ahead of the position it was at when last imaged by the camera. This will make the wheel seem to rotate forward rather slowly.

This was a highly simplified explanation of the Wagon-Wheel Effect and I hope you understand other factors must also be taken into consideration. The camera’s exposure time, the frame rate setting (some cameras have features to increase or decrease the frame rate), and location with regards to the wheel will affect the appearance and strength of the effect. For example, a wheel with 24 spokes rotating at 24 revolutions per second will appear still if shot with a camera shooting at 24 frames per second. Similarly, if the wheel were rotated at 48 revolutions per second, the wheel would also seem to be motionless.


07Jan 2019

No, there is no such thing as a universal wheel. Numerous factors come into play when deciding what wheels can go on your vehicle.

Diameter and Width
Two of the most critical factors are the wheel’s diameter and width. Every car will have a range of wheel diameter sizes of several inches that will securely and adequately fit. This is generally the result of vehicles having different wheel options and various sizes with each trim level (i.e. base model – premium luxury model). This allows the customer the option to choose wheels based on appearance and performance.

The wheel’s diameter and width are measured in inches. The wheel diameter is the height of the wheel across the center; while, the rim width is the measurement from the edge of one bead seat to other bead seat.

Offset
A wheel’s offset is the distance from the wheel’s centerline to the mounting surface. It is measured in millimeters and depending on where the mounting surface is in relation to the center line; the number can be either positive or negative. A positive offset is when the mounting surface is in front of the wheel centerline, and a negative offset is when the mounting surface is behind the wheel centerline.

This is highly important because you must stick within the recommended offset range for your car. If the change is too drastic, the wheel may not leave enough room for the wheel hub and brakes to work correctly. An incorrect offset wheel may also interfere with your car’s turning radius and may also cause the wheel to rub against the wheel well.

Bolt Pattern/PCD

The Pitch Circle Diameter (PCD) is the diameter of the circle which passes through the center of all the studs, wheel bolts or wheel rim holes. If the wheel you are looking to purchase does not match your wheel hub’s PCD, then you won’t be able to install them on your car without additional parts or changing your wheel hub.

Dual Drilled Wheels
Some people may think that dual drilled wheels are universal, but that is also not the case. Don’t be fooled by advertisements or salespersons, a ten lug hole wheel will not fit every five lug hole vehicle. Dual drilled wheels are wheels that have two bolt patterns or PCD’s.

For example, a dual drilled wheel with bolt patterns 5×115 and 5×120 will only fit on vehicles whose bolt patterns are 5×115 and 5×120. These wheels will not fit on another bolt pattern.

31Dec 2018

When it comes to wheel spacers, you’ll quickly discover the majority of people have already made up their mind and have strong opinions of them. On Google, YouTube, and car forums, you will find two groups: those that claim wheel spacers are entirely safe when installed correctly and those that urge others to avoid them like the plague.

Purpose

For most car enthusiasts, spacers are the easiest way to get perfect fitment from their wheels and tires. Wheels tend to be pushed slightly inwards (generally 5mm-30mm) for improved drag and fuel efficiency. This, however, doesn’t create a sleek and flushed appearance. The purpose of wheel spacers is to increase the “space” between the wheel and the wheel hub. This pushes the wheels and tires slightly outward.

Wheel spacers are also used for trucks and off-road vehicles. This is also done to increase the clearance and room between the wheel and wheel hub. This is highly beneficial for off-road vehicles because larger off-road tires can be installed. This directly impacts and improves performance, traction, and off-roading capabilities.

Safety

Wheel spacers are safe to install on your vehicle, only if they are properly installed. This entails purchasing high-quality spacers from reputable companies. The wheel spacer should be of appropriate size and should be hub-centric. This means the wheel spacer will fit securely between the wheel and wheel hub. A torque wrench should be used to torque the lug bolts to appropriate tension.

When wheel spacers fail, most of the time it is due to the quality of the wheel spacers themselves. When installing or purchasing spacers, ask if they are cast aluminum, forged aluminum, billet aluminum, steel, or titanium. If you are going to install wheel spacers thicker than 1 inch, we highly recommend installing bolt-on type wheel spacers. They bolt on to the wheel hub, and the wheels bolt on to the wheel spacer.

Durability

If properly installed, then there should be no durability issues. Two common problems people have are the lug nuts becoming loose and ultimately leading to the entire wheel coming off or the wheel studs bending. The only explanation for this is the lug nuts were not torqued properly and the weight of the vehicle was put entirely on the loose wheel bolt(s) and/or wheel stud(s). A wheel stud cannot merely be bent by tightening down a wheel spacer between the wheel and wheel hub.

A common misconception about wheel spacers is the affect they will have on your wheel bearings. If properly installed, wheel spacers will not cause your wheel bearings to fail prematurely or suddenly. As long as high quality wheel spacers are used, and they are of appropriate size for your vehicle, there will be no problems. The hub bores on your wheel hub and wheel should match the hub bore on the spacer.

Precautions

The lug nuts need to be torqued to their required tension. We recommend you get wheel spacers installed at reputable wheel shop. If you are installing these at home, we highly recommend using a torque wrench. As a precaution, we recommend you do a torque check every 25,000 miles. This will catch any loose lug nuts or bolts.

If you are curious about learning more about wheels, please read our previous article on Lugs, Nuts, and Bolts.

24Dec 2018

Lug nuts, also known as wheel nuts, are used to hold a wheel in place. Your vehicle can have four, five, or six lug nuts. This is dependent on the type of car you have, such as a small economy sedan, SUV, truck, or sports car. As lug nuts are engineered to hold a certain amount of pressure, larger cars will have more lug nuts. Some vehicles come factory-equipped with loose wheel nut sensors. These allow you to know when a lug nut is loose. As the majority of cars are not equipped with such sensors, it is a good idea to check for loose lug nuts as a preemptive measure.


If any loose lug nuts are spotted, you should have them tightened to manufacturer specifications. Use the lug wrench that came with your car and tighten any loose lug nuts. It is highly recommended to use a torque wrench, if available. A torque wrench measures the amount of force applied; therefore, you can rest assured knowing your lug nuts are properly tightened.

If you have lost a lug nut, the pressure asserted from driving around will be distributed to the remaining lug nuts on the wheel. You can safely drive at legal speeds with a missing lug nut; however, you should head to your nearest tire shop as soon as possible. Over time, this excess pressure can wear down the other lug nuts. This can lead to adverse effects on the wheel bearings. Because the wheel bearings will be subjected to more stress, they can wear out prematurely.

A common problem with vehicles missing a lug nut is car wobble. Car wobble and the additional stresses placed on the vehicle as it turns, brakes, and accelerates can cause other issues: the remaining lug nuts can loose, and the wheel studs can break. Wheel studs placed over them and bolted in position using the lug nuts.

If you are driving with a loose lug nut, we recommend you have it tighten as soon as possible. If you are driving with a missing lug nut, it is highly important you have it replaced as soon as possible. It can be potentially dangerous to drive with a missing lug nut because of the extra pressure exerted on the remaining lug nuts. This pressure can damage the lug nuts, wheel studs, and could cause the other lug nuts to loosen.


If you are interested in reading more about how wheels are held in place, check out our article on Lugs, Nuts, and Bolts.

17Dec 2018

What Is TPMS?
Tire Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS for short refers to the system that monitors your vehicle’s tire pressure. This system alerts you when any of 4 tire’s pressure drops below the manufacturer’s recommended acceptable level. TPMS was first introduced in the 1980s on ultra-luxurious European vehicles. TPMS was introduced to the US with the 1991 Chevy Corvette. Now, all cars sold in the US are required to have TPMS. 

Why Are TPMS Sensors Required?

In 2000, the TREAD (Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation) Act was passed. This Act requires all new cars sold in the US after September 2007 must be equipped with TPMS. The TREAD Act was pushed for approval mainly due to the Ford and Firestone Tire controversy. This was a three year period in which tire tread separation and failure was traced back to over 271 fatalities and over 800 injuries in The US. 

Where Are TPMS Sensors Located?

All new cars have the TPMS sensors located inside each wheel and assembly. The sensors are attached to the valve stem and held in place with a nut. Because they are inside the wheel and secured in place against the wheel barrel, damage is quite rare. External TPMS sensors are available; however, they are considered aftermarket. All external TPMS have the sensors located in the tire caps. These don’t communicate directly with your car. Instead, an additional digital display is installed in your vehicle to give you real-time tire pressure readings. 

Different Types of TPMS

An Indirect TPMS will use the same technology that the anti-lock brake system uses. These sensors do not measure the actual tire pressure of each tire. Instead, the sensors measure the speed at which each wheel is turning and is used by an onboard computer to compare that speed with the rest of the wheels and the rate the car should be traveling at. If a wheel is spinning faster than the rest, the onboard computer determines that tire is under-inflated and alerts the driver.

A Direct TPMS uses air pressure monitoring sensors within each tire that reads the specific pressure levels. Cars equipped with direct TPMS will have an option to view the air pressure of each tire in real time. Due to the costs, these types of sensors are generally only seen on higher-end or luxurious vehicles. All this data is sent wirelessly. Because each sensor has a unique serial number, the system can distinguish between itself and other vehicles’ TPMS.

10Dec 2018

It should come to no surprise that BMW does not produce their own wheels and rims. The auto brand subcontracts wheel manufacturers around the globe to provide their wheels.

BMW isn’t the only company doing this. All major vehicle manufacturers subcontract wheel manufacturers to act as OEM suppliers. This is done because car brands do not generally have the expertise nor resources required to manufacture their own wheels. A wheel manufacturer can mass produce wheels more efficiently, cheaper, and faster than a car brand could in-house. BMW and the wheel manufacturer handle the design and specs of the wheel, while, the wheel manufacturer handles the production.

Below is a partial list of some of the different wheel manufacturers BMW has worked with in the past.

BBS Wheels

BMW M5 Style 65 BBS

BBS is a world-renowned racing and aftermarket wheel manufacturer. They have produced numerous wheels for BMW including Style 42 seen on the 3 5-Series, Style 65 seen on the M5 (seen above), Style 71 seen on the 3 series, Style 162 seen on the 3-Series, Style 197 seen on the 3-Series, and Style 230 seen on the 3-Series.  

Borbet Wheels

BMW Style 179 3 Series

Based in Germany, Borbet is one of the oldest wheel manufacturers in the world. Borbet manufactured Style 37 seen on the 5-Series, Style 95 seen on the 7-Series, Style 132 seen in the X5, and Style 179 seen on the 3-Series (seen above).

Cromodora Wheels

Cromodora is a major wheel manufacturer based in Italy. They produced Style 18 seen on the Z3, Style 69 seen on the X5, and Style 71 seen on the 3-Series (seen above).

Ronal Wheels

BMW X5 Style 214

Based in Germany, Ronal is one of the largest wheel manufacturers in the world. They produced Style 132 seen on the X5, Style 199 seen on the 3-Series, and Style 214 seen on the X5 (seen above). 

What other style do you know are made by these brands? Comment below.