Most of us stop thinking about wheels once we know that it’s attached to our vehicle. Yet, you’d be delighted to know that wheels can come in different types and benefits.
Unless you’re a professional racer or a true automobile enthusiast, you’re probably unaware of the differences between cast vs forged wheels. But, if you’re thinking of elevating your driving experience, then you can’t neglect the impact that selecting the right wheels would have on your car performance.
But, no worries. If you don’t know your carburetor from your fuel injection, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of what cast and forged wheels are all about. We’ll also highlight the differences between the two categories.
Cast vs Forged Wheels 101: The Basics
Before we start our deep dive into the manufacturing processes for both cast and forged wheels, let’s make sure you’re familiar with the different kinds of wheels available to you on the market.
You can purchase cast wheels, flow-formed wheels, and forged wheels. Every type comes with its own perks, qualities, and drawbacks. For this article, we’ll focus on cast wheels and forged wheels.
What Are Cast Wheels?
In the simplest of terms, casting aluminum wheels, also known as cast wheels, are the most common type of wheels on the market.
It’s the manufacturing process of cast wheels has been an industry staple for many decades. By pouring molten aluminum, or drawing it into a vacuum, into a mold, you’ll get your wheels made from the molded material alloy.
Moreover, once the aluminum cools down, it’s drilled and trimmed into the final shape of the wheel. This process of wheel casting is considered the most cost-effective. But, it can result in higher rates of porosity in the material.
The Drawbacks and Benefits of Cast Wheels
This porosity we’ve mentioned can lead to a rather devastating failure point. Once you’ve put cast wheels under stress in the track or other areas, you’ll see numerous instances of the casting breaking away.
This is not a cosmetic problem. Having your wheel cracking when you’re driving can cause a huge amount of damage, starting from a faulty wheel to causing a collision that might hurt you.
The benefit of getting cast wheels is that it’s the cheapest type you can find. You can change these wheels whenever you feel like they’re wearing out and your wallet won’t feel a thing.
As long as you’re going for a lower load rating, and you won’t be racing anytime soon, you’ll be good to go.
What Are Forged Wheels?
On the other end of the manufacturing spectrum, you have forged wheels. Those are strong and light wheels that rate high in all different performance metrics.
But, of course, they come with the price point to match their high quality like those forged wheels from Savini Wheels. Honestly, those are functional pieces of art. Generally speaking, you’ll find two subcategories of forged wheels. The most commonly used manufacturing method is the machine forged wheels. The other (and much rarer type) is mold-form forging.
Let’s see what makes those different from the rest.
The process of machine forging starts by taking a chunk of billet aluminum and putting it under the mercy of very high temperatures, and tons of pressure.
This leads to the creation of a compressed structure, which is much stronger than the original material in the billet. Once this stronger piece of forged aluminum is ready for cutting, it’s put into specialized machines to form the desired wheel shape.
As for mold-form forging, some rare manufactures specialize in this process.
The key difference between the two methods is that the mold-form process will include the shaping phase of the wheel right in the middle of the forging process. Unlike the machine forging, which waits for the forging to be done, before the shaping process can commence.
In the midst of mold-form forging, the grain of the metal flows in the same direction as the shape of the wheel. This produces superior wheels that are much stronger than machine forged wheels.
After this first step of rough forging, the manufacturer will use a massive machine that can apply more than 10,000 tons of force to finalize the wheel shape.
The Drawbacks and Benefits of Forged Wheels
The main perk of shelling out big chunks of money for forged wheels is that they can come with a high load rating. Basically, it means that once your wheel strikes a wall or gets into another kind of impact, it’ll hold on and won’t break.
It will bend and will look rather miserable, but your forged wheels won’t fold on themselves as cast wheels would.
The glaring disadvantage of forged wheels, other than their higher price points, would be that they’re still a wearable item. You can’t expect your forged wheels to last forever, so there will come a time when you need to replace them.
Choosing Cast or Forged Wheels: What’s Best for You?
The short and truthful answer would be: it depends.
Start by analyzing your car usage, and be truthful with yourself regarding your intentions with the car. For instance, is this going to be a racing car that will deal with a lot of wear and tear? or will you be taking it on a hike once a year and the rest is all about grocery shopping?
Afterward, you should check your budget constraints. If you’re willing to spend around $10,000 and higher for your car wheels, then picking forged wheels is the way to go.
But, if you’re looking at a budget of $2,000, then cast wheels would be a much better fit for you.
Unlocking the Different Types of Wheels
We know how exciting it can be to start looking for your dream wheels. But, if you’re a newbie to the scene, you might want to limit your options at the start, so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options available to you.
Hopefully, our discussion of the differences between cast vs forged wheels has shed some light on what type of wheels might be more suitable for you.
And, if you liked this article, you’re going to love our other tips and tricks, all available to you in our auto section. Make sure to check it out before you go.
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