Car Wheels: Definition, Parts, Types, Sizes, Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) Vs. Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)

Wheels are an integral part of a car; a car cannot move without the wheel; also, in addition, the performance of the car depends on them too. The wheel is placed vertically under the car’s body in the car. The wheel comes in multiple arrays of sizes—different styles and materials. Different power transmission to the wheels affects the performance of the car.

Also, the car performance is affected by the material we use in manufacturing the wheel. It means it does not only work for the smooth movement of the vehicle; all its extra functions and layouts affect the vehicle’s performance. Therefore, it’s important to understand all the aspects of the car wheel for better performance and the long-life span of the vehicle.

What are Car Wheels? Basics

Car Wheels Basics

The oldest invention of humanity is one of the most important changes for mankind. We can say that it is wheels that change the way of life amazingly. We couldn’t envisage a world without it. The wheels were initially seen on clay tablets discovered in the era of Mesopotamia. These clay tablets signify a car with wheels more than approx. five thousand years old.

car wheels definition parts types sizes front rear wheel drive basics
Car wheels definition parts types sizes front rear wheel drive basics

According to archaeologists, the wheel was created in Mesopotamia over six thousand years ago, but we cannot figure out who the inventor was. Supposedly. The first wheel was invented afterwards, and the first human being used cylinder-shaped tree trunks to move heavy stuff.

As time went by, wheels also upgraded as their use started in transportation. This results in mitigating the problem of Animals that don’t have to carry weights on their back. Benefits of the wheels, as the wheel pulled the cars and moved a lot of extra weight with minimal effort, and from then, the wheel acts as the foremost partner to human beings.

Before we proceed to the complete mechanics of car wheels, let’s look at some facts or the history of wheels. So, we connect our ancient vision with our modern world.

So, as we see, everywhere we can see the wheels almost all the important tasks, a movement that wheels provide us more efficiently, like on trucks, cars, aeroplanes, and also some are inside the whole thing like electronic instruments (PC hard drives, garments washers, electric toothbrushes, dishwashers, etc.).

Also Read: Types of Cars

What is a Car Wheel?

The wheel combines tire, tube, rim, spokes, and hub. Generally, we can say that it’s around a circular block in which the outer surface is the tire, the middle of the wheel is the hub, and the spokes are connected with the rims so all this arrangement is called a wheel. Which basically provides a movement to any vehicle on the road. Wheel gets movement through an axle bearing fitted with the middle circular hole of the wheel. Now we will further discuss all the parts of the vehicle separately to understand the different mechanisms of the car wheel.

Different Parts of a Car Wheel

Let’s look at a different part of the wheel.

car wheels parts types sizes front rear wheel drive Image: Google


The barrel is the part of the wheel between the outboard face and the inboard rim edge, attributed to the mounting tire structure, including the drop center and the out or inboard flanges.

Centre Cap

The removable part covering the wheel’s center bore part on the outer face. Numerous modern wheel caps cover the lug bolts for style and protection.


It is the structure found between the axle mounting pad in the center disc and the wheel’s outer edge.

Also read: Types of bikes

Lug Holes

Lug holes are the orifices in which the lugs are specifically attached during wheel installation. Wheels generally have 4,5,6 and 8 lug holes which form various bolt patterns.

Centre Bore

The center bore is an opening of the wheel at its back that centers the wheel on the vehicle’s hub. Most of the wheels have a big center bore to be fit in different vehicles.

Outer Lip

The outer lip is basically the area between the outer edge and the center disc of the wheel. Typically, the 14 inches wider the wheel, the deeper the lip.

Valve Stem

It is fundamentally a new mechanism that is basically for aerated tires. Amalgamated tire pressure monitoring systems are the new fundamental measures for all vehicles.

Centre Disc

A section of a wheel consists of the spokes and axle mounting pad.

Wheel bearing

The basic definition of the wheel bearing is the arrangement assembly that connects the wheel and the axle. In other words, wheel bearing creates a low friction connection between the rotating wheel and the stationary vehicle. A wheel bearing is an antifriction bearing. It is a set of multiple steel balls or tapers held together by a metal ring, which results in a smooth wheel rotation with less friction.

Wheel bearing must be carefully selected to deal with the type of load, as wheel bearings have an average lifecycle of 136000 to 160000 km, but the actual lifespan of a wheel bearing is conditional on the quality of the wheel bearing and the operating condition.

Some of the outcomes of bad wheel bearing

  • Noise
  • Looseness, excessive playing with the steering wheel
  • Steering wheel vibration
  • ABS malfunction

Also Read: What is Governer

Essential subsidiary parts of a wheel

Wheel Rims

The wheel rims are the link between the hub and the tire. On the rim, the tire is installed, and the rim is fastened to the hub. If we focus on the design of the wheel rub in the middle part of the wheel rim, there are wheel mounting holes.

Some additional engraving is used to attach the cover for the wheel cover, which attaches to the wheel rim. Generally, some types of wheel rims manufacturers, according to material strength, the weight of the car, size, and appearance, like steel rims, are comparatively lightweight and reduce the unsprung weight; so, they are cheap in price and durable.

Several are chrome plated, as we discussed above, for appearance. If we see the modern vehicle, we observe changes like modern vehicles progressively rims are made from materials other than steel, commonly called customized rims. Hence, collective materials of custom materials are aluminium, aluminium -magnesium alloy, and graphite and plastic combination.


generally, the main work of a tire is to reduce shock and provide traction .and we can say it is a cushioning device, also can be considered part of the suspension system .as we used the word traction so for traction device, as they transmit engine power, braking and turning effort to the road, also tire cover and prevent wheel rims from touching or rubbing the ground.

The main part of the tire is the thread and its body. The outermost part of the tire is the tread or track, and it is in direct contact with the ground resulting in wear out over a larger period. Grooves and notches in the tread are called tread patterns. The important role of grooves and notches is to increase the friction between the ground surface and the tire and the direct water and rubble away from the wheel.

Some specification on the sidewalls of the tire includes-:

  • Tire width
  • Tire height and width ratio
  • Wheel diameter
  • Treadwear, traction, and temperature grade
  • Tire ply composition and material used
  • Load index and speed symbol
  • Inflation and load limits

The Hub

The rim is attached to the hub, and the hub is the central part of the wheel; it is home to brake pads, calipers, and rotors; all are attached to the axle & help the vehicle move and stop. Tires are attached to the hub, and five bolts are mounted together with lug nuts from its center.

(Refer to the below image for more insights)

Also Read: What is Engine

Sizes of Wheels

Wheels come to a wide range of extents as modern fashion people prefer a larger wheel car for more attraction. Also, larger wheel sizes have become fashionable today. In terms of stability, it works for some vehicles. But a larger wheel has a disadvantage: it affects fuel mileage, and acceleration degrades. So, the engineering of cars, including the speedometer, odometer, traction control, torque, and gearing setting, is based on a distance that standard wheel and tire assembly would cover in one revolution.

So, we must decrease the size of standing height on every increased wheel diameter.

By following this rule, the wheel and tire will cover the same distance in one revolution; this results in better performance with a larger wheel.

The size is explained as:

Diameter*Width Where D= diameter of the wheel and; W=width of the wheel. For example, the wheel with the numbers 17*8 means that the wheel diameter is 17 inches and the width is 8 inches.

Also Read: Fuel Pump

Different Types of Wheel

Steel Wheel

Steel wheels are made from an alloy of iron and carbon, i.e., steel. Steel wheels are one of the most basic wheels in the automobile industry worldwide. Steel wheels are cheap and simplistic.

They are cost-effective and help most effectively as a standard wheel. If you also want to invest less and make the most out of wheels, steel wheels are the appropriate alternative.

But as it is cheaper it has some problems like it is not the lighter metals, these wheels are very heavy. This makes it tough for the transport as they are of much weight. It also decreases the car’s speed, but that doesn’t make it ineffective, but it is recommended to consider all the points while purchasing them. 

Alloy Wheel

Aluminium and magnesium alloys are used to make alloy wheels. Alloys are made up of a combination of metals and other elements. The steel wheel, on the other hand, is a carbon-iron alloy. Nonferrous alloy wheels are also known as alloy wheels. These are stronger than pure metal wheels, generally softer and have more malleable properties.

Magnesium and aluminium alloys provide the same strength as steel wheels but are lighter than the steel wheel; the heat conduction of alloy wheels is better than the steel wheel and has a good aesthetic appeal than steel wheels.

Alloy wheels have the following advantages over steel wheels-:

  • Alloy wheels provide more strength than steel wheels. As alloy wheels are typically softer and more ductile
  • As alloy wheels are lighter in weight, as we see above, steel wheels are heavier in weight; also, alloy wheels provide the same or even more strength.
  • Alloy wheels at conducting heat are much more efficient and give better visuals than steel wheels.

Initially, alloy wheels were made of magnesium alloys, but ductility was the problem. More R&D led to the discovery of aluminium alloy wheels, and casting refinement in the 1960s made them very advanced. Until 1960 most aluminium suffered from low malleability or ductility, extending from 2-3% elongation. Once aluminium casting improvements were more broadly implemented, aluminium substituted the magnesium wheel.

Chrome Wheel

The wheel is made of chrome, but they are generally alloy wheels or steel wheels coated with chrome. Also, the question comes to mind: does it affect the performance of wheels? This coating doesn’t affect any wheel performance. Only it gives an aesthetic enhancement to the wheel; now, why were we coated with chrome. The chrome coating gives wheel protection against oxidation.

Forged Wheel & Cast Wheel

We see forged wheels and cast wheels –however, these two wheels are only different in the manufacturing process.

In the manufacturing of forged wheels, a single piece of solid aluminium forges into the shape of a wheel.

And on the other hand, cast wheel manufacture uses liquefied aluminium poured into different moulds.

Now let’s look at key features of both the wheel types.” as compared to the cast wheel, forged wheels are three times stronger than cast wheels and in addition 25% lighter …that is all we need to consider for the better performance of our car’s

But if we go to the economic aspects of these wheels, forged wheels are three times costlier than cast wheels.

Also Read: Gear Box

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) Vs. Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)

Front-wheel and rear-wheel drives are two of the most general engine and transmission arrangements for motor vehicles, and both have their benefits and some drawbacks.

What are Front-wheel drive and Rear wheel drive?

As we see, the most vehicle is generally front-wheel drive. Usually, the engine and transmission of power in the front-wheel-drive vehicle are fixed at the front side of the vehicle, and these mechanisms send power to the vehicle’s front wheels. On the other hand, if we go to the mechanism of the rear-wheel-drive cars, the transfer of the engine’s power is directed to the rear wheels. As we see, most rear-wheel-drive cars have their engine mounted in the front of the vehicle; by contrast, some rear-drive vehicles have engines in the middle part or rear of the vehicle instead of distinctive sports cars.

Drawbacks of front-wheel drive

  • If we talk about the most significant drawbacks of front-wheel drive, we can face its handling compared to rear-wheel drive. Even though their traction is greater in bad weather, for example, whether it’s a muddy, snow-covered or wet road or on some condition where the car gets stuck in that muddy or snow road, as the engine is just above the front wheel also the power to pull the car be with the front wheel makes its grip with road perfectly, or we can say good with compare to the rear-wheel-drive vehicle make it powerful, they don’t take turns absolutely as compare to the rear-wheel drive. The pressure over both power and the steering system placed on the front axle tends to tax the front wheel tires, creating a less dexterous sensation while driving the vehicle. Sometimes, we may feel the car isn’t properly reacting to your steering fine or has a propensity to own an interruption in your inputs.
  • This issue is most perceptible under the condition of fast driving. Front-drive mechanisms wear down their tiers due to their hardware loaded at the front, so it costs us more in repairs in the long term.
  • Also, we face torque steer problems in front-wheel drives, which means the heavy layout of the front wheel drives under a condition of acceleration results in a drift of the vehicle to its right or to the left side on its own, a state in which quick acceleration affects the vehicle to drift to its right or the left side on its own.
  • Therefore, most sports cars that are high-performance vehicles work on the rear wheel or the all-wheel mechanism layout.

Benefits of rear-wheel drive

  • In the condition of the control car, the rear-wheel-drive advantage to control the car more effectively compare to front-wheel drive.
  • No torque steer- there is no power to the front wheel, so the front wheel can freely move, so handling of steering is good and easy.
  • Weight distribution- the weight distribution of rear-wheel drive is like 50-50 to front, and the rear wheel, which results in better control of the vehicle, also provides a good pickup. Also, we see some sports cars where the driver takes high acceleration to drive the car. The car’s front wheel uplifts a bit and the rear wheel down a bit, which gives more grip to the vehicle to control in high-speed cars.
  • Turning radius-no axle to the front wheel or not any complicated joints to the front wheel means they are independent in case of rear-wheel drive, which results in better turning as compared to the front-wheel-drive

Also Read: Diesel Engine

Effect of tires on Car Wheels

The kind of tires affects a lot, and in the case of cars, this remains at the topmost place. Let’s discuss the two most prominent tire types and their effects of them on the wheels:

Tube Vs Tubeless Tire

As the name indicates, if we talk about tubeless tires, the tire without a tube means there is no tube between the rim and the tire. So, in place of the tube is a tube filled with air, and in this tubeless tire mechanism, there is direct air held in between the rim and the tire. On the other hand, a tube-type tire has a tube in it that holds the air; most vehicles have now shifted to tubeless tires, but the tube type variety continues to be sold, so let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the tubeless tire to get some deep understanding over it.

Advantages of tubeless tires on Car wheels

The advantage of tubeless tires on Car wheels are as follows:

  • The contraction rate is minimum, meaning it’s given the tiresome extra pull so that the driver can reach the nearest repair shop. This slow contraction rate also helps the driver get enough period to delay the vehicle’s stopping time.
  • If we compare the car’s resistance to the tube tire, the tubeless tire creates low resistance to the vehicle while driving. As a result of this, it feels lighter to the vehicle driving than the tube tire.
  • It also provides a comfortable ride and stability to the vehicle compared to the tube tire.
  • Compared to the life term of a tube vs tubeless tire, the tubeless tire has a longer life and is more durable. 
  • Tubeless tire repair is relatively easy compared to tube tires. This means that your vehicle can cover more kilometers if we keep refilling the tire air.
  • heat dissipation in the tubeless tire is better as compared to the tube tire, as the air inside the tire due to tubeless contact direct with the rim
  • In the case of the tube tire, the tire gets damaged in the case of the flat tire, but in the tubeless tire, damage to the tire is less as the tube is not inside the tire. Also, the contraction rate is slow.
  • Fuel efficiency also improved, as we discussed above, the lightweight of the tire, increasing fuel efficiency.
  • It’s suitable to use liquid sealant for puncture repair automatically. The modern tire (tubeless) can be filled with liquid sealant. This means that the sealants flow through it and dry in the condition of being cut by the sharp object Hence filling the puncture. Very helpful to riders when they are in a condition when there is not any repair shop nearby,
  • So, at low pressure, running our vehicle can damage the tube tire. However, damage to the tire does not happen with tubeless tires.

The disadvantage of tubeless tires on Car Wheels

  • Tubeless tires are difficult to fit on the rim as they have to be airtight against the rim. Furthermore, only an expert can fit a tubeless tire without getting rim damage.
  • If you had a puncture and found that the tire is flat, not everybody will be able to fix it. Fixing tubeless tire punctures requires special equipment, which not many will have.
  • The sidewall of the tire is a dangerous place to have a puncture. You can change the tube-type tire and forget about it in a tube-type tire. But a tubeless tire will need to be changed if its sidewall gets damaged or carelessly discarded.
  • Tubeless tires are generally more expensive than tube tires due to the different components.

Also read: car radiator

How Does Low Tire Pressure Affect Your Vehicle wheels?

As we know tire is the essential part of the vehicle, the entire vehicle body rests on it. Very small things can affect the tire’s pressure, like the outer surrounding temperature. Because of this, it is necessary to keep a watch on the tire’s temperature further; we are going to know and learn so many of the aspects that if the tire air pressure is low in the vehicle, it causes numerous problems in multiple ways. If you are continuously driving on tires with lower inside air pressure than actual need, it may cost us more than standard and prove hazardous.

There could be a lot of unpleasant effects of not keeping ample tire pressure.

Decrease mileage

It is a fact that most driver only keeps 80% of the required air pressure in the tire. And this is one of the most probable reasons for the low mileage results of not maintaining the requisite tire air pressure. And it is found that if the tire pressure is low, as minor as 6 PSI, it affects your car mileage go down by approx. 5%. The required pressure of the tire will only have a positive effect on the performance of your car, affecting the handling of the car and mileage.

Increase fume emissions

Now, it is very clear that if low tire pressure, it requires more energy to pull the car, which results in an increase in fume emission. So, if the tire pressure is low, its effect also comprises higher fume emissions due to the decreased fuel economy. And as a result, we have got to refuel constantly, but with under-inflated tires, the vehicle consumes more energy to stay in full motion.

So, this is the reason for the increased emission, as you will have to stock up more often along with your fuel consumption rate decreased. Also, more waste is created since aerated tires consume more energy to induce the vehicle’s full motion.

Shorter tread life

If we got the low-pressure effect on tread, we find that it majorly affects tread life. Research shows that if proper air pressure is not maintained inside the tire, then it leads to a decrease in the life of the tread by about 25%, which clearly shows why we should be concerned about maintaining adequate tire air pressure; otherwise, we will have to replace them more frequently because it is hazardous for the users to use tires further on the least tread block.

More chances of the failure

Low tire pressure one of the dangerous effects on tires is tire failure. We said so because the flat tire or low tire pressure increases the surface contact of the tire, which leads to the increase in friction between the tire and the road. This increase in friction causes some extra heat, which can further cause the tire to blow up or the tread to separate. Which causes a hazardous situation for passengers or a worse accident?

Increased stopping time

Now we discussed many bad effects of low tire pressure, but increased stopping time can’t be ignored. It takes more time to stop the vehicle when we apply the brake to the car or when it comes to rest compared to the usual time. Also, it takes some extra time when the condition of the road’s surface is wet. So, we can now understand that these minute avoidable points can cause a dangerous effect on vehicles.


So, we go through all the important aspects of car wheels in this topic. We cover all the points from history to different mechanisms of the wheel. What we need to know as students or as curious people or to enhance our knowledge helps you all, and at completion, you get to enhance your knowledge. In this context, we try to cover all the minute things you should know if you are a buyer, student, or person who needs to know all about car wheels.

Why should we know all these things always come to mind? It’s not about deep knowledge. It’s about a simple understanding of all the things that can change the way of our environment. It reduces most of your silly mistakes or a bunch of your problems by just understanding things. So, I hope this knowledge will be very helpful for you.

Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs on Car Wheels

How do we know that which wheels will fit my vehicle?

There are different methods through which we can get an idea of which wheels can fit your vehicles. You can take the help of a professional or with the help of different videos. You can also check the model of your car and research on the basis of that. This will not only help you to be aware but also helps in the best possible ways to keep your vehicle upgraded.

What are the different materials which can be used for the manufacturing of rims and wheels?

The two most common types of materials that are used to manufacture rims and wheels are steel and aluminium. Though thee are other materials also but they are not common. Please refer to the above article that will help you in getting an idea of all the materials used for manufacturing.

What are prerequisites that can help to know the idea of new tires for your vehicle?

The tread of the tires is the prominent aspect that provides an idea for changing the tires at a specified time. It is recommended to keep a regular check on the treads of the tire.

Which company manufactures best class of car wheels?

There are numerous brands that provided excellent quality of wheels. You just have to choose according to your needs and the car specifications.

Can we customize the Car wheels?

Yes, there are lots of customization options for car wheels. You just have to choose as per your choice and needs.


Hello Everyone! We, Rituparna Guha & Firan Mondal, are delighted to present our Mechanical Engineering articles. We will capture all types of articles and try to explain in the simplest way with a lot of diagrams! Happy Reading....

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