Dodge Charger Hellcat Track Car’s Broken Wheel Shows Why Part Quality Matters

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Wheels are one of the most important parts of a car, but also one that we don’t always consider to be essential for safety. Lose a wheel and you’ll know it fast, whether you’re on the road or on the track. The driver of a Dodge Charger Hellcat recently learned this lesson the hard way, as Deviate Motoring shared on Facebook.

The Hellcat in question has been modified for track use, sporting a big rear spoiler, serious front splitter, and even ducks on the front fenders for extra downforce. Paired with the over 700 horsepower supercharged V8 engine, it should have been quite the weapon on the racetrack. However, the car in question had a critical wheel failure. The front passenger-side wheel broke all five spokes near the hub, with the tire and rim fully separating from the car. As you might expect, this ended up putting the car in the grass, to the detriment of the lowered aero parts in the front of the car in particular. Fortunately, the car otherwise appears to be in good condition.

The problem lies in the choice of the wheel, or more precisely, the construction of the wheel. Cast alloy rims are popular because they are cheap and generally suitable for driving on the street. However, put them on a heavy, powerful track car with sticky tires, and suddenly things change. The huge loads on the wheels ultimately caused a sudden, brittle failure, causing the wheel to separate and the driver to crash.

For large, heavy and powerful tracked cars, a forged wheel is more suitable. The forging process involves beating or pressing the hot metal into shape, thereby changing the grain structure of the material. This is done to create a wheel blank, which is then machined into its final shape using lathes or CNC machines to produce a finished wheel. This process creates a part that is stronger than the casting processes, and a part that is much more ductile instead of brittle. Thus, forged wheels tend to bend more than to break, often allowing a wheel to still hold air even after being damaged.

If you’re putting a 4,600-pound car on the right track with over 700 horsepower, sticky tires, and all kinds of aero, you don’t want to run out on cheap basement wheels. Put too much load on a cheap wheel, and it can break, causing a lot more damage to your wallet than if you just bought the right rims in the first place.

The lesson here is to buy the right parts for your car, and not to skimp on the things that matter. Spending on crucial components can have terrible consequences, and it’s just not worth taking such a risk.

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