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Three Things to Think About Before Adding Rims to Your F150

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Ford F-150

Three Things to Think About Before Adding Rims to Your F150

Jason Lancaster
April 6, 2012


Ford F-150
If you’re thinking about putting after-market rims on your F150, remember that what you choose can have a small or large effect on your truck’s performance, fuel economy and expected repairs. In most cases, over-sized rims will increase the burden on your vehicle.

TYPES OF WHEELS

When selecting new rims, choosing the material that best fits your intended use will help you gain the most benefit for your dollars.

  • Steel – These inexpensive but strong rims, a good fit for heavy-duty or off-road use, are stamped out as two separate pieces that are welded together. Repairs are relatively easy, but the heavy steel hurts the performance of the suspension, acceleration and fuel economy.
  • Cast Aluminum – This alloy weighs much less than steel while sacrificing only a little strength. Since hot liquid aluminum is poured into molds, the differences in density throughout the material create weaknesses that break under pressure. Cast aluminum wheels address this problem by adding more metal, which increases the weight slightly.
  • Forged Aluminum – In this case, aluminum is heated almost to the point where it turns into a liquid. High pressure shapes the aluminum into the desired shape. This method arranges the material at the molecular level to reduce the inherent weakness found in poured aluminum. This creates a strong, light wheel that is well-suited for performance driving.
  • Chrome – These shiny wheels are becoming popular among drivers who want a clean look. The base, made of aluminum or steel, is coated with chromium for extra strength and aesthetics. The resulting wheel resists corrosion and rust as well as tolerating extreme temperatures and weather conditions. The chromium plating is also harder and tougher than steel or aluminum. This combination of strength, durability and looks offers the most benefit for drivers who stick to paved roads; off-road driving would damage the fancy finish.


  • IMPACT ON PERFORMANCE AND FUEL ECONOMY

    Wheels and tires may only have an indirect effect on performance and fuel economy, but don’t forget that they can certainly hurt the vehicle’s overall performance. For instance, larger wheels increase the wheel-to-axle ratio. This translates to needing more force to accelerate the truck, which in turn translates to slower acceleration and reduced performance. And since the truck has to work harder, these actions burn more fuel that can result in a lower fuel economy.

    If you try to lessen these negative effects by maintaining the same rolling diameter as the factory wheels and tires, you’ll probably end up with a larger tire size, shorter sidewalls, and a wider area of contact between the rubber and the road. This larger contact patch creates more friction that must be overcome to move the truck. The result is greater drivetrain loss. The driver experiences better handling and stability, but more fuel must be used to overcome the extra friction.

    In short, any increase in wheel size will hurt your truck’s performance and fuel economy. The extent of the damage will depend on how radically you choose to change your rims.

    FRONT SUSPENSION ISSUES

    F150s have been known to experience recurring problems with the front suspension, especially leaking axle seals and broken coil springs. Be aware that increasing the rim size puts more stresses on car parts, as discussed above. The larger the wheels, the more the weight burden on the suspension. This extra pressure exacerbates any potential problems or weaknesses and thus may require more repairs.

    In the end, careful consideration must be taken when thinking about adding rims to your F150 and many factors must be weighed out.

    Author Jason Lancaster writes for BlueSpringsFordParts.com, your source of discounted OEM Ford parts.



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