Coming Soon: Plastic Wheels

By: Evander Klum

Ever imagined driving a car with plastic wheels? If it hasn't even crossed your mind, well it now will - because sooner than we think, today's light-weight alloy wheels may one day be replaced by even lighter plastic wheels or advanced composite versions (read: plastic wheels).

A new testing system has been developed that will allow manufacturers to simulate tests for the wheels in the hope that they'll one day feature on production cars. The benefits of plastic wheels are their lower costs and lighter mass.

Some time ago, plastic specialists have already been able to develop wheels using glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) components. Unfortunately, they have never been able to test them to meet industry safety regulations. But that may soon change with a new simulation developed by Europe's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research facility.

According to a department manager at Fraunhofer, Andreas BÃ?ter, who spoke recently with reporters from Automobilwoche, the simulations use tomography imaging to determine the length, curvature and density of the glass fibers used in the wheel. Those parameters, he says, are crucial for the firmness and maximum stress of the material.

This will allow them to forecast how the wheel may react to impacts to a curb or from a crash, as well as long-term reliability. So far, some prototype examples have been tested successfully beyond 250,000km.

This development should be good news, as GRP wheels says Autoblog, should be both lighter and less expensive than their metal counterparts, reducing the unsprung weight of your car and wallet at the same time. People will definitely be watching out for development of this news.

In the meantime, make sure that you maintain your current tires, along with your car's auto parts like your .

Tires, despite their being among the most important and easily cared for parts of a vehicle are often the most neglected. Here are a few simple tips to help you take care of your tires:


  • Measure your tire pressure monthly using a good quality tire gauge. A visual inspection is not sufficient to detect under or over-inflation problems.

  • Have your tires aligned annually.

  • Tires should be balanced approximately every 20 000 km, or when drivers feel a vibration.

  • Rotate your tires regularly.

  • Monitor tread wear and replace tires when your tire tread is worn out.

  • Conduct a visual check for embedded stones, glass and other foreign objects that could work their way into the tire and cause a leak.



By adopting these few simple tire maintenance practices, you can increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency, reduce harmful emissions, save money and make your vehicle safer.

Top Searches on
Car Parts
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Car Parts
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles