A new set of wheels can make a personal statement, modify handling dynamics and change a car’s personality. For our Project V70R we looked at a variety of wheels, spoke with several vendors and came away with newfound appreciation and education on wheel technologies.
Todd Henderson, President of HEICO North America, educated us on the TUV testing regiment, which measures all automotive components against a series of stringent engineering standards. These tests, which are required by the German government and tested by independent agencies (TUV or Dekra, as examples), assure that all components made for use on the Autobahn are up to the task in terms of material technology, fit, finish, and reliability. Heico is not unique to TUV testing but their high quality and exclusivity to Volvo means you won’t see the Volution wheel on anything but a Volvo.
TUV testing is particularly important when discussing alloy wheels, as these have so much to do with the operational safety of the vehicle. Generally speaking, TUV is considered the most difficult engineering standard for automotive parts in the world, typically exceeding some manufacturer requirements. Safety is a cornerstone of the Volvo brand, and no one wants to put on a great looking wheel only to have reservations about its structural rigidity during harsh driving conditions.
First, wheels are tested using finite element analysis (FEA) to check that a given fitment passes the basic engineering criteria for a particular application. Following approval of the basic design, tooling and molds are produced for the final wheels. From these same molds that produce the final production wheels, samples are taken and a number of physical checks are made.
The KBA (the enforcement body involved) is authorized to do random field tests to assure that the wheels being produced for the TUV testing are the same quality as those being produced for the street. If a discrepancy is found, the KBA can call back ALL wheels sold at the cost of the seller. This is the equivalent of an auto manufacturer’s recall but in this case, everything is bought back and destroyed.
A few of the tests completed during the evaluation process are:
This test checks the resistance of the material from which the wheel is produced. During the test, the rim is fixed on a test bench and varying forces are applied (see photo…force applied upward from below)…the wheel is effectively twisted over and over again. The force applied varies, but is equivalent to cornering forces from 190 to 240 km/h (in both directions) for 14.5 hours in total. Oddly, under strobe light one can actually see the spokes undulating up and down under load! This test checks to make sure that there are no cracks found in the hub area or in the wheel spokes following repeated torsional testing.
This test measures the endurance strength of the wheel and tire package during cornering and straight-ahead driving. This test measures the strength of the wheel lip, and the mounting area, including the bolt holes and center bore to make sure there are no cracks in any of these areas, and that there is no air leakage from the tire under the test conditions.
Wheel lip test
Criteria are the strain of the wheel lip during testing over a road hazard. Critical points are the spokes and the area around the valve stem, making sure these do not fail during contact.
During this test different weights are dropped onto the wheel. This test measures any air leakage from the tire/wheel package within a fixed period of time. The height from which the weight is dropped is 230 mm, the weight varies depending upon the weight and performance of the vehicle application being tested, but can be as much as 1000 kg. This test simulates an impact of 40 km/h into a sidewalk or curb.
This is an endurance test that measures the tangential force on the wheel during acceleration and braking. Criteria are also the cracks. The wheel is installed on the bench without tire for this test to measure the wheel deflection.
For 384 hours a wheel is sprayed with salt spray solution. In advance of the test some grid lines are made on the wheel lip, wheel base and the interior drum of the wheel. These are used to measure any corrosion during the testing, and to assure that each area of the wheel is tested thoroughly. A few spots on the wheel are damaged, as though from rock damage, and then analyzed to assure that the alloy can withstand the concentrated spray without corroding.
The alloy of the wheel itself is tested, including the wheelbase, wheel lip, and interior drum areas to assure they are consistent, and of the proper quality. The alloy components are also checked to assure purity and consistency of the materials.
For this test a complete set of wheels is installed on a vehicle and test driven under normal (normal for the autobahn conditions). These checks are made to test to see if the wheels contact the fenders at all. If rubbing is found, a procedural check is made to document what installation steps are required to assure for a contact-free installation. Ride comfort is also checked. The bump toe-in and king pin offset are tested during acceleration, deceleration, and heavy braking to assure suspension clearances.
If a wheel fails to pass any of these tests, the molds must be changed and the entire process is repeated.
To receive TUV-approval documents, a manufacturer must also be ISO 9001:2000 certified. This assures that the company has the appropriate management and recordkeeping horsepower to assure proper compliance with ongoing technical standards.
In other words, if you can’t prove that you keep good enough records, then spot checks to make sure you’re within compliance don’t carry any weight. DEKRA or TUV does compliance auditing each year to assure compliance. And it is this level of scrutiny that HEICO puts into each of its wheel offerings that made the decision to go with their Volution V design rather easy. As an added bonus for multiple Volvo owners, the HEICO Volution wheel is certified for use on the XC90 as well as the V70. So, if you want to change the look of your Volvo car next year, you can put the HEICO wheels on your wife’s XC90, of course with her approval.
I was impressed with the effort taken to package the wheels. They didn’t just arrive in boxes, they were wrapped in plastic and the face of the wheel was covered with a cloth cover imprinted with the HEICO logo. The wheels came with center caps and chrome valve stems. The loose wheels weighed in at 26lbs and with the 235/35/19 General tires, 51lbs. We also used a set of HEICO’s TUV approved spacers and longer lug bolts.
If you are considering a set 19” wheels, I recommend you consider your local road conditions. While the ride quality is equally as aggressive as the look, if the roads are rough, the inch and a half of rubber between the wheel and the road might be a little thin for most drivers. Combine the wheels with a set of lowering springs and the R’s Advanced mode really lets you’ll feel the cracks and carve the corners. We love the look of the 19s on our Project V70R, the bright silver finish against the Sonic Blue really makes the wheels stand out.
We choose a set of 235/35/19 General Exclaim UHP performance tires. General is typically not thought of for performance tires. Lets be realistic, 19s are more about looks than performance, so we didn’t see the need to spend over $200 per tire. Instead we spent about $125 at Tire Rack. And we are happy with the tires and how they perform.
The Exclaim UHP uses a high performance silica compound molded into a directional tread design for responsive handling. The tires feel solid heavy rain and the tire’s design helps limit hydroplaning. The UHP has a “M+S” rating so the tires combined with the R’s Haldex AWD may get you through a few inches of snow. The road noise is about the same as the stock 18” Pirelli tires.
The VOLUTION V is a stylish wheel that doesn’t look added on. The 19x8 wheel is just enough to aggressively enhance the profile of our project V70R without exaggerated proportions. We are extremely pleased with the quality of the wheel and gained a new respect for the time and effort that HEICO takes to bring their wheels exclusively to Volvo customers.
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