Basic Wheel Concepts: Guide in Buying Replacement Car Wheels

Wheels are among the most vital parts in the car. They are the

ones that keep it moving and thus, they are indispensable in a

vehicle. The size and the quality of the wheels significantly

affect your ride quality and handling so always make sure they

are in perfect shape and condition. Taking care of them is a

must so as not to sacrifice your vehicle’s performance. They

also need special attention since they are closest to the road;

hence, they are exposed to a lot corrosion-causing elements.

Aside from contributing to ride quality and handling abilities,

the wheels can also make the car look better and a lot

sportier. People have always been concerned with how their

vehicles should look and thus they replace or customize some of

the parts to make it different from the rest on the road. The

wheels are among those that are often replaced to achieve their

desired appearance. Accessories are also added to the wheels,

such as the hub caps and wheels covers. These auto accessories

are designed to match the user’s various driving needs and

moods.

In buying replacement wheels

for your car, there are important things you need to know,

especially if you are new to driving. You cannot just choose

any kind of wheel in lieu of the original wheel of your car.

There are different wheel specifications for every kind of

vehicle and car model since suspension design varies from one

vehicle to another. Take note that the wheels work hand in hand

with the suspension system whose job is to keep the tires in

tight contact with the road as the vehicle turns, brakes or is

driven down the road without sacrificing comfort of the

passengers.

Three aspects of the wheels are relevant to the suspension

design: wheel offset, aspect ratio, and tire width. All these

should be considered in choosing the best replacement wheels

for your vehicle.

Offset refers to the distance from the very center of the wheel

to the mounting surface of the wheel disc at the hub. Wheel

offset can be positive, negative or zero. A “0” offset means

that the mounting surface of the wheel is in the center of the

wheel. This measurement is very important in positioning the

tire. This also provides for adequate dual spacing.

Aspect ratio is the ratio between the width of the tire and the

height of its side wall. A tire specified as “205/60/15” for

example, has a width of 205mm and 60% aspect ratio. The “15”

refers to the size of the wheel to which it is fitted. You

shouldn’t buy wheels or tires with lower aspect ratio than what

is required because this will wear them out easily as ride

quality will deteriorate. However, this could also result to

more precision in turning.

You might be thinking of getting wider wheels to give your car

a racing car look. Better think about this again. While is it

true that wider wheels and tires can give your car a chunk of

gutsy looks, they can also ruin your driving satisfaction. This

is because the weight of the vehicle would not be evenly spread

over the wheel and tire width. Resistance is also increased,

thus you wheels and tires could wear out fast.

If you want to know more about car wheels, you can search for

car enthusiasts’ sites that feature different kinds of wheels

or go to the car manufacturer’s site and check out your car

model’s wheel specifications.

Basic Oil Change Tips

From the first car I owned, until just recently, I have always changed the engine oil. My father taught me how. He was a truck mechanic in the U.S. Army and then, as a civilian, he worked in plant maintenance. I would say that my father passed on the ‘mechanic gene’ to my older brother and me.

When it comes to changing the oil in one’s car, the first thing needed is to consult the owner’s manual to find the type of filter and how many quarts of oil are needed. Other items are a good drain pan, and funnel. These can be purchased at the auto parts store. It’s a good idea to have a basic set of tools. An extra tool that makes oil changes easier, in my opinion, is an oil filter wrench (specialty tool). I use a socket and ratchet set when I change oil. I’ve also known people who would use an adjustable wrench. I don’t consider this a good idea because you can slip off of the drain plug and damage the flats.

At the auto parts store, you can look up the type of filter required for your car. I would recommend buying the oil in a five quart container so you can pour your used oil into it after the new oil is poured into your car’s engine.

Once you’ve got your supplies and tools, it’s time to get under the car. You might not fit and you’ll have to jack the car up. One other good investment would be ramps. I always save a big piece of cardboard to lay on when I’m under a car. I have a creeper too, but it sets to high for some cars I’ve worked on. Start your car and let the engine idle for about 5 minutes. That way the oil is warm and will drain much easier.

Crawl under your car and make sure the drain plug, you’ll be removing, is on the engine pan. Some new cars have a transmission drain plug. Have your tools with you when you get under the car, and select the proper socket to use. It may be metric or standard. Make sure to have your drain pan close by when you remove the plug. When the oil from the plug hole is down to a few drips, re-install the plug. Locate the engine oil filter. If you’re not sure what it looks like, take the new one out of the box. Some filters are easy to get to, to change, others are not. Use an oil filter wrench, if you have one, and turn the filter counter-clockwise to remove it. Make sure the drain pan is under the filter, if possible, to catch the oil spilling out. Next wipe some oil on the seal of the oil filter and install it, turning it clockwise until it’s tight, then turn it 3/4 of a turn more, this insures it won’t leak.

The next step is to put oil in the engine. Most engines take 5 quarts with a filter change, but consult your owner’s manual. Also, double-check you are pouring the oil into the engine and not some other service port. I know it sounds crazy but it does happen.

Once you have serviced the engine with oil start it up and check for oil leaks by getting under the car, the drain plug and filter should not be leaking. No leaks and oil pressure in the green? Congratulations on a job well done.