One of the first things that car owners consider while customising their vehicles is a perfect set of wheels. If you are in the market to change your tyres you will most probably consider one of the following categories — speed, style or safety.
Unfortunately, speed, despite being the most important is generally overlooked by the majority of car owners. Choosing to compromise on safety always offers cheaper alternatives. While such choices may seem wise at the moment, as you save a lot of money for your next pimp-my-ride project, you will likely pay the price eventually.
The quickest and cheapest route to customisation, whether in appearance or performance, lies in Sharjah. Several shops within the emirate's industrial areas have numerous after-market parts ranging from rims and brake pads to car bonnets and engine components. Despite several authorised distributers and qualified workshops in the country, there are quite a few car owners who continue to choose cheaper options.
Speaking about rims available at unauthorised vendors, Nizamuddin V.Z., Operations Manager at Hamann Motorsport Middle East, says, "[Many of these rims use] alloys, usually cheap aluminium. It looks the same but at the end of the day, can break very easily. Earlier, one of our customers had fake Hamann rims; [when] he had a small accident, one of the rims broke in half."
Nizamuddin explains that the tyres Hamann deals in are three-piece wheels, prepared with materials of the highest quality and made in Europe. He warns consumers not to be taken in by companies retailing fakes, whether Hamann or other brands and advises buying directly from the dealer. "People have no idea how serious it is to drive with fake tyres; if they spend about Dh1,000 more they can get the original stuff. Those familiar with brands like Hamann, Schnitzer or Mansory go out and buy the originals. However, the sad thing is that people who have expensive cars like the Mercedes SLR and the latest Ferraris still get their modifications done at unauthorised garages with fake after-market parts," he says.
Jaics Joseph, General Manager at Performance Group, a leading after-market parts supplier in the region, says that the majority of tyres and wheels sold in Sharjah are from China. "Those wheels are pretty heavy when compared to normal wheels. Besides the obvious safety issues, the rims can damage your vehicle's suspension while drastically decreasing the power of your engine. You won't experience the same performance that you did before," says Joseph.
Daring you to cheat
In order to combat the industry born from fake rims, several manufacturers are starting to introduce new designs that are hard to duplicate. Nizamuddin tells GN Focus that Hamann will introduce new technology to the market very soon. "We used to have five bolts on our rims and now we will have a single bolt, similar to Formula 1 cars. That will reduce the fake after-market sales drastically," says Nizamuddin. This new design, including the wheel spacers, will be extremely difficult to replicate.
One of the main points on the Dubai Police vehicle safety checklist urges motorists to check the tyres of your vehicle daily. Unfortunately, the majority of drivers on the road would be content if they check their air pressure once a week. Statistics issued by the Dubai Police go on to mention that in the past year 47 people were killed or injured in traffic accidents caused by punctured tyres.
Hamann recommends tyres from Continental, Pirelli and Dunlop. The top-of-the-range run-flat tyres that are virtually impossible to burst can set customers back about Dh3,000 per tyre.
"It is obvious that good tyres are a necessity, for the safety of yourself and your car," says Joseph, "It is just a little more money, that's all it costs. Make sure you buy your tyres from a reputable source and that it comes with a warranty."
Finally, the man-in-charge at Hamann Motorsports shares a few pointers for the youthful petrolheads in the country. "Young kids, soup up your cars but try to stay away from engine upgrades until you are familiar with your vehicle and can handle its speed. Always buy original tyres. If possible, buy from the dealer because you can get a warranty. Make sure it comes with a warranty for six months or one year," says Nizamuddin, "Check out tyres and rims reviews before you make a decision. Go online; read about it, the information is out there."