Wheel weight can have a major impact on your vehicle. Ultimately, it is a part of your car’s overall weight. And, if you enjoy a speedy ride, a heavier wheel can limit that. Similarly, heftier wheels make it more difficult to slow down. It can even have an impact on your overall fuel consumption. Certainly, there are various factors to consider when looking for wheels, but the weight of it is very important and is also dependent on what you plan to do with it.
Types of Weight
Not all weight is equal on a car. The weight that sits on top of the suspension is called “sprung weight”. This is because it is supported by the springs. In contrast, the weight that is connected to the springs but does not sit atop the suspension is called “unsprung” weight. This includes your wheels. Thanks to your suspension, all the unsprung weight moves following the surface of the road. When you hit a bump, your springs and shock absorbers will absorb the motion. This causes your suspension to bounce up and down as well. However, the heavier the mass is on the suspension, the harder it will be for it to move with the surface of the road. The lighter your wheels are the easier it will be on your suspension, making every bump more controlled.
Regarding performance, reduced wheel weight means a reduction of the “unsprung” weight on your vehicle, ultimately allowing your suspension to perform better. In a performance vehicle, reduced wheel weight will allow for better handling when driving. In addition, with less mass in motion you will experience a significant change in speed. More so, it is especially interesting because when weight is removed from a specific location on the wheel, it affects the physics of your vehicle’s behavior on the track.
Big Brake Kits
These are a key component of helping reduce unsprung weight. For example, Ksport Big Brake Kits feature two-piece rotor designs that provide several benefits including light weight, fade-free performance and effective grip on the street and racetrack. They also offer a comfortable, easy-to-use operation under normal driving conditions. The two-piece rotor design reduces rotating and unsprung weight, allowing your car to stop quicker and more efficiently. Ksport’s rotor design is extremely lightweight when compared to OEM one-piece rotors, commonly weighing up to 50% less than OEM rotors of the same size. Our kits also feature light weight center sections crafted from 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. These give you the benefit of lower rotational mass making wheels easier to stop and give you the instant snap of brake response that’s proper for high performance driving.
Additionally, certain suspension systems can help reduce unsprung weight. Some of these systems include our Gravel Rally, Asphalt Rally, and GT Pro. Where applicable- Some of these coilovers are equipped with an inverted shock which lowers the sprung weight of the car by flipping the heavier parts of the shock upside down. Switching to a coilover system can also be much lighter than the stock components and improve performance across all areas including acceleration, handling and stopping power. For additional details on coilovers, check out our blog ‘What to Look for When Buying Coilovers‘.
While Big Brake Kits can be used to help slow down the vehicle, what ultimately pulls the most weight in stopping the car is the tire. The weight of the tire must also be included in the weight of the wheel. It’s your tire that does the ground gripping. Even with the biggest brakes in town, mediocre tires will not help you stop at peak power. A bigger tire will offer a better grip than a smaller one. Be sure to invest in tires that are not only the correct size for your vehicle, but that also optimize your car’s braking ability and handling.
It’s also important to note that in addition to sprung and unsprung weight, there is also rotational weight. This is considered when your wheels spin as your car is in motion. In short, rotational weight is the energy spent spinning or stopping the spin of the wheel as your car’s speed changes.
The material of the wheels can also affect weight. If you’re using aluminum material such as alloy, your wheel will be lighter than a car with steel wheels. Forged and cast wheels are also lightweight and should be considered if you’re looking to swap them for OEM equipment or steel wheels. Furthermore, alloy can be very beneficial when it comes to handling. On the contrary, steel wheels can be sturdier and resist impact and damage more than aluminum wheels. They are preferable for winter driving and are generally less expensive.
In conclusion, the importance of wheel weight is dependent on your intended use of your vehicle. If you want speed and performance, go with lighter wheels. It will provide you with improved handling and better acceleration. If you’re a rough driver or live in a terrain exposed to harsh elements, consider steel wheels. They are much stronger, more durable, and easier to repair. Need help deciding which wheels are right for you? Contact our friends at Element Wheels!