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What is the first die-cast wheel?
- Jun 01, 2017 -

A sizable selection of alloy wheels (sometimes called "mags"—see below) are available to automobile owners who want lighter, more visually appealing, rarer, and/or larger wheels on their cars. Although replacing standard steel wheel and tire combinations with lighter alloy wheels and potentially lower profile tyres can result in increased performance and handling, this doesn't necessarily hold when increasingly large wheels are employed. Research by Car and Driver conducted using a selection of differently sized alloy wheels from 16" to 19" all outfitted with the same make and model of tires showed that both acceleration and fuel economy suffered with larger wheels. They also noted that ride comfort and noise were negatively affected by the larger wheels. The allure of larger wheels is that they signify luxury, sportiness, or wealth.

Magnesium wheels were the first die-cast wheels produced, and were often referred to as simply "mag wheels." Magnesium wheels were originally used for racing, but their popularity during the 1960s led to the development of other die-cast wheels, particularly of aluminum alloys. The term "mag wheels" became synonymous with die-cast wheels made from any material, from modern aluminum alloy wheels to plastic and composite wheels used on items like bicycles, wheelchairs, and skateboards.

However, pure magnesium wheels are no longer produced, being found only on classic cars. Pure magnesium suffers from many problems. Vintage magnesium rims were very susceptible to pitting, cracking and corrosion. Magnesium in bulk is hard to ignite but pure magnesium wheels can be ignited by a burning tire or by prolonged scraping of the wheel on the road surface following a puncture. Alloys of magnesium were later developed to alleviate most of these problems.In fact, US Federal Aviation Administration has conducted wide-ranging tests over the past decade, and has reached a conclusion that potential flammability of magnesium is no longer deemed to be a concern.Modern surface treatment technologies provide protection from corrosion and significantly extend the average lifecycle of magnesium rims.

The mass of a typical magnesium automotive wheel is about 5–9 kg (depending on size).