Factory (OEM) vs. Replica wheels: myths and truths!
You may have seen many sellers offering seemingly unbelievable prices on what they call “oem style”, “replica” or “reproduction” wheels. They even go as far, as to claim that these wheels are made to OEM specifications and at an OEM manufacturing plant. There are some myths below that we are going to explain so you can make your buying decision with confidence. By the way, for those of you who wonder what OEM stands for – it means original equipment manufacturer, which is a company that makes parts for the car manufacturer (such as Delco making Chevrolet parts).
When a factory wheel is made, the primary goals the wheel manufacturer has are as follows:
1. durability from road hazards (potholes, etc.).
2. durability from road salts, car wash acids, chemicals, etc.
3. durability in order to minimize warranty claims and/or recalls.
4. ability to properly support the weight of the vehicle and it’s passengers + cargo with a huge safety margin.
5. proper fitment to ensure vehicles suspension and brake systems operate as designed and without vibrations.
They go through millions miles of testing as well as millions of dollars in research and development, in order to make sure that the wheel will withstand the rigors of everyday driving and harsh road / weather conditions.
To compare when a replica wheel is made:
1. ensure the lowest manufacturing cost possible (using cheapest manufacturing methods and materials available).
2. fit a wide variety of models they were not originally designed for (by changing offsets, wheel widths, etc.).
Most of these wheels do not go through any sort of research and development, simply to minimize manufacturing cost, and also because the manufacturer simply does not have the money to perform such research.
Myth: Replica wheels are just as strong as the factory original wheels.
Truth: Replica wheels are made using the cheapest manufacturing method available (gravity casting). This is when molten aluminum is simply poured into a mold and allowed to cool off. This method results in a wheel that has lesser density aluminum, since no pressure is applied (most factory wheels use a what’s called low pressure casting method). What this really means is that the replica wheels are much more likely to get bent or cracked, since they are made from much weaker, more porous material. We have seen this happen over and over again.
Myth: Replica wheels are identical to original factory wheels.
Truth: Replica wheels will always differ slightly from original wheels. When a replica wheel is made, it’s made by copying the design of the original wheel by creating another mold. There are always difference since a wheel mold is very expensive to make properly ($25,000+). You will notice slight differences on the front, and major differences on the back. All of this is not only because the wheel mold is made in the cheapest way possible, but also because it’s virtually impossible to copy the design of the original mold without having super expensive equipment. Furthermore, if a wheel is made exactly the same as the original, manufacturer runs the risk of being sued. This recently happened with BMW issuing cease and desist letters to manufacturers, so you’ll hardly find anymore BMW replica wheels for sale on eBay.
Myth: Replica wheels are made at the same plant where factory wheels are made.
Truth: It’s pretty obvious that the statement above is very misleading. For example, do you think Toyota is going to allow a factory that makes wheels for them also make the same wheels for someone else? Wheel manufacturer making millions of wheels a year for a car manufacturer will not risk their business for a small company making wheels in the hundreds or maybe thousands. Not only that, but they also face the risk of being sued by the manufacturer who owns the rights to the design of that wheel.
Myth: Replica wheels have the same durable finish as a factory wheel.
Truth: Factory wheels are subjected to some of the most stringent road tests available to make sure they stand up to hundreds of thousands miles of abuse, potholes and such. They also go through what is called a salt spray test and many other tests to make sure the finish will stand up to road salts, chemicals and other elements. All of these tests are extremely expensive and virtually no replica wheel manufacturer does any of them. The finish on replica wheels is usually of the cheapest design with no testing done whatsoever so they can be made as cheap as possible.
Myth: Replica wheels will fit your car just as well as a factory wheel.
Truth: Once again, this goes back to making a wheel as cheap as possible. We have seen many replica wheels that are out of round right out of the box. They cause a major vibration on the vehicle or rub on suspension or brake parts since no fitment testing was done before they were made. This does not even address the issue of replica wheels causing a vibration from getting bent, as mentioned above.
In summary: For many reasons, some of which are listed above, original factory wheels are more durable, stronger and perform better on your car. Please keep all these things in mind when making your purchasing decision. – source
From our leading industry expert:
This is an interesting topic.
The octane rating of petrol is a number that has certainly been glamorized in the public eye, and everyone wants more..
Unbeknown to most, octane actually has no relevance at all to the energy content of the fuel.
It is merely a measure of knock resistance. (knock, also known as pre-ignition, pinging etc)
A high octane fuel will not result in knocking as easily as a lower octane fuel.
This means that you can increase the compression ratio of the engine, and that gives you more power.
Unfortunately for the man in the street, the compression ratio of the vehicle you buy is fixed and is designed for 95 octane fuel at the coast.
So if it does not knock on 95 fuel, it still won’t knock with 98 or higher.. Use of higher octane fuel/ octane boosters will make absolutely no difference.
Modern engines however can take some small advantage from higher octane fuel.
This is because they are electronically controlled and have a knock sensor.
The engine continuously adjusts the spark timing to the point of knocking and optimizes the timing for best efficiency, slightly away from the knock limit.
Higher octane fuel will allow the engine management system more adjustment range in the timing to achieve better performance.
This advantage will be slight though, and probably not worth that expensive bottle of additive…
When engines are modified for racing, the block is usually machined down to increase the compression ratio. These engines are therefore ‘designed’ to use higher octane fuel, such as 102.
If these engines ran on 95, they would knock terribly and this would destroy the engine as knocking erodes the pistons and they eventually break into pieces.
Similarly when aftermarket turbos are fitted, or the boost pressure of a turbo system is increased, you will have a knocking problem unless higher octane fuel is used.
At altitude (Highveld) the lower atmospheric pressure means that engines don’t knock as easily as at the coast where the pressure is higher.
Therefore 93 octane is perfectly adequate and behaves like a 95 would at the coast.
Most cars would not perform any differently on 93 or 95 at altitude.
Regarding Engen Primax, you can read information on the Engen website.
In truth, they have simply caught up to the competition rather than introduced anything new…
A leading fuel supplier has had very similar additives in our petrol for many years now, we just aren’t that good at marketing it.
However, none of these additives increase octane beyond the spec. Primax is definitely not 98.
Octane is expensive, no-one will give it away…
A leading fuel manufacturer does not supply 102 octane petrol to anyone.
MBT are either fooling the customer or adding a metal based octane booster additive. You can tell this from the price. If it’s not more expensive, then it’s probably a lie…
Our racing fuel is available from certain race tracks in cans, and is rated at 98.
We are currently developing our racing fuel for improved performance, even though it is currently the best in the market. There are many other factors that make a good petrol, not just octane.
Drag racing cars do use Nitromethane (with 10% methanol) instead of petrol. The chemical formula for Nitromethane is CH3NO2. Petrol is purely a hydro-carbon chain, whereas Nitromethane has a nitrous oxide molecule in the mix. This does not provide more energy, actually less. However it introduces more oxygen into the cylinder, which allows you to burn more fuel. That gives more power. The same principle works in cars modified with nitrous oxide injection. Essentially just adding oxygen – nitrogen does nothing, it is inert. But.. as an oxy-acetylene torch burns through metal – so will this burn through your pistons.
This is why dragster engines only last for ¼ mile, and you probably won’t meet anyone who has used “NOS” without melting an engine or two.
E85 is now very common in Europe and USA.
Its purpose is more to try and introduce bio-ethanol into the market from a ‘greening’ perspective.
It has octane benefits, but again, street cars can’t take much advantage from that anyway.
There are many corrosion and water related problems with ethanol, and vehicles need to be designed to be compatible with this. Ie: flex fuel vehicles
The future of E85 is dependent on the supply. Less likely to become prominent in Africa as the crops used to make ethanol are usually the same as those used to make food…
Hope that answers some of your questions.
If you are ever in Cape Town you are welcome to pop in and visit our engine testing lab.
Enjoy the braai…
And if you want more power – buy a bigger engine