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Wheels and Tires

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Wheels and Tires

Richard Romando
March 13, 2006

Wheels are the circular disks or rings on which automobile tires are mounted. Wheels work in synchronization with an axle. The tire is a rubber ring filled with air that fits around the wheel of a vehicle. The wheel and tires move together with axle that allows low friction in motion by rolling.

There are two types of tires that can be mounted on wheels: pneumatic and solid. Pneumatic tires are air-filled tires. They have holes in the rim, which makes mounting of wheel on hub easier. Pneumatic tires are good for traction as they can be easily adjusted by changing the air pressure. The tire will have larger traction when you reduce the air pressure because the contact path with the floor will be larger. However, with the reduced wheel diameter, the speed reduces and the torque or the pushing power goes up. Pneumatic tires invariably involve risk of puncture as a disadvantage. On the other hand, solid tires are made from solid rubber or plastic. They are very light and come in a variety of sizes. However, they suffer traction loss faster than the pneumatic tires, and if they get damaged or worn out, you will have to replace the entire wheel and tire system.

Wheels are classified according to the bolt patterns, which can be a 4-lug, 5-lug, 6-lug, or 8-lug system. The number of bolt holes and the bolt circle diameter determines bolt pattern. Classification is on the basis of wheel backspace and wheel offset. Each vehicle has its own wheel-tire package type according to the vehicle dimensions and the amount of maximum load it is designed to carry.

The wheel and tire system dimensions do not just depend on the vehicle dimensions, but also on how fast the vehicle is expected to run and how heavy a load it is expected to carry. So when you are choosing a wheel-tire system for your vehicle, take into account the dimensions of the current system, the dimensions of the vehicle, and the speed and load bearing expected from the vehicle.

Discount Tires provides detailed information on Tires, Discount Tires, Snow Tires, Wheels and Tires and more. Discount Tires is affiliated with Tractor Tire Chains.

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