If you want some new rims for your Mercedes, here’s a tip: buy the real thing. Industry testing of counterfeits has shown huge quality disparities between cheap copies and genuine wheels, with some third-party cheapies shattering over a regular pothole at just 50km/h.
After some initial testing at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria where some wheels tested shattered over a 50km/h pothole, laboratory work by metallurgial and chemical analysis experts LMATS uncovered what they called “significant defects” in the fake wheel, including a range of metal-weakening pore and surface micro-cracks caused by substandard manufacturing and casting processes.
Dye penetrant testing, often used to determine whether manufacturer-supplied wheels are safe to re-use after crashes and harsh pothole damage, showed “severe porosity” on counterfeit rims while the genuine wheel had no recordable faults. At magnifications of up to 800 times, something called ‘hot tearing’ — a telltale sign of inconsistent cooling after casting — were easily detectable on the fake and nonexistent on the genuine.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ Genuine Is Best campaign works to promote genuine parts in the simplest way possible, by showing up the potential faults of dodgy alternatives. While there are times you can get away with remanufactured parts on your car, wheels are one of the two things — along with tyres — that sit between your car and the road. We wouldn’t skimp on them.
Genuine wheels are pricy, yes. But they’re pricy for a reason, as the video below demonstrates pretty clearly. If you’re going to change away from your stock rims, at least buy some from a proper wheel manufacturer like Volk or O.Z.