What’s in a name? It’s not surprising that the names of vehicle components such as wheels and tyres are used interchangeably to mean the same thing when in actual fact they are not. The same with wheels and mags, or mags and rims, and so on.
To distinguish the difference between the three, here’s a breakdown and explanation of what wheels, mags, and rims are, technically speaking.
What is a Wheel?
The wheel is the entire metal section attached to an axle and a hub. The word ‘wheel’ has been commonly used to include this metal component with the tyre it houses. However, the components of a wheel consist of:
- Hub or central disc – Attaches the wheel to the axle of the car by lug nuts.
- Rim – The cylindrical outer edge of the wheel supports and seals the tyre to the wheel. (More about rims later.)
- Spokes – The rods that radiate out from the central hub connect to the rim of the wheel. These spokes play a part to determine the wheel’s overall weight and strength.
Okay, so what are Mag Wheels?
Magnesium wheels are produced by casting or forging. The word ‘mags’ is often incorrectly used for any cast or forged wheel without hubcaps, regardless of what materials they are made from. Mag wheels, in fact, are so called because they are manufactured from alloys containing mainly magnesium.
The benefits of mags
- Lighter – they are the lightest metallic structural material available and can weigh significantly less than aluminium or steel wheels
- High strength-to-weight ratio – a material's specific strength is its strength divided by its density
- High damping capacity – good ability to absorb vibrations
While mags have functionality and looks on their side, they cost significantly more and therefore used specifically for professional racing cars rather than average passenger cars.
What Is a Rim?
Image source: Researchgate.net
Rims and mags are another set of words that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A rim is the cylindrical outer edge of any type of wheel that supports and seals the tyre to the wheel. In the case of a tubeless tyre, a rim ensures proper fitting between it and the tyre retaining the air inside.
The condition of your rims will affect the safe handling of your car and can become damaged by pavements and potholes. So while they are normally made from the same materials as the rest of the wheel, some are coated with a layer of Teflon for extra protection.
The size of the rim determines the size of the tyre.
Now that you know the difference between a wheel, a mag, and a rim, you’re one step closer to becoming a automotive expert!
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