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Wheel Weight Slows You Down

times   2018-12-14

Unfortunately, wheel weights are one of the major places that many enthusiasts completely ruin their car's potential performance. They have an enormous impact on ride quality, acceleration, handling, and also to a smaller degree, braking.

Choosing the correct size and paying careful attention to weight will improve your car’s ride and ability to tear it up at the track and on the street.


Wheel weight is one factor that many enthusiasts are aware of. However, I still see so many people picking wheels for their car that weigh a LOT. Some enthusiasts select the right wheel, but blow it on the size they chose to run. 

Let’s talk about weight first and then we’ll talk about one of the more controversial and surprising topics of wheel size in the next part.


Why does wheel weight matter? Wheel weight, if nothing else, is part of the vehicle’s weight and will need to be carried along with the car’s mass everywhere it goes. It Is one of the cheaper and easier items to change on a car, especially when it comes to weight. It’s free to lose weight by removing items, but replacing components with lighter weight parts is usually expensive. Wheels, are multipurpose items and they can usually be the source of quite a few pounds of weight loss at a much better value than carbon fiber hoods and the like.


They are also a special sort of weight. Wheels turn (obviously) and therefore they are rotational weight. If you pick up a 30lb weight it may feel a little heavy in your hands. However, if you attach that same weight to a piece of chain or rope and begin to swing it, you’ll find out quite quickly that it is much harder to spin a 30lb weight than to simply hold it. It is also requires more and more energy the further out you let that weight slide from you. So, if you spin a 30lb weight on a 2ft piece of chain, it’s a lot easier than even a 3 ft section of chain.


The same goes for your car. A 30lb weight sitting on the floor is easier for your engine to pull down the road than a 30lb spinning wheel is.


Now, the wheel is also one other special type of weight, which is UNsprung weight. On your car, there are two types of weight. One is sprung (or held up by the springs), the other is unsprung weight. Which, in most cars includes things like the brakes, the control arms, the wheels, tires, and so forth.


Finally, lighter wheels can be stopped faster. In the real world, you may see a slight decrease in stopping distance (as-in, slight), and a slight decrease in the amount of heat you see at the brake rotor due to less energy being absorbed thanks to your lighter wheels.

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