Mechanical Testing Puts Tire Rims to the Test

Drop weight test on tire rimsWhen parts or products fail to perform as expected, Laboratory Testing Inc. can help identify the reason. During the course of a failure analysis, our metallurgical engineers utilize appropriate testing methods to determine material composition, material properties, the existence of defects or any other information on features or characteristics that will shed some light on the cause of the problem. Oftentimes, the research and evaluation are used as evidence in legal cases and LTI may provide expert witness services.

Comparing Factory and After-Market Wheels

One such case involved the safety and performance of tire rims. LTI’s client needed a comparison of cast after-market wheels involved in an auto accident with forged factory-standard rims for the same vehicle. The vehicle’s after-market wheels shattered upon impact with a concrete curb during the accident, so Laboratory Testing Inc. tested and compared both types of rims to determine the ability of each to withstand a similar impact.

A mechanical testing drop weight impact test was used to replicate the force applied to the wheels during the accident. The testing involved allowing a 1,000 lb. weight to free-fall directly onto each rim from increasing heights, which created various ft. lbs. of energy.

The Test Results

The cast after-market style was tested at 3,000 and 5,000 ft. lbs. of energy. The first wheel cracked at 3,000 ft. lbs. of energy and a second one shattered under 5,000 ft. lbs. Damaged wheel after drop weight testThe forged factory rim was tested at both 5,000 ft. lbs. and 10,000 ft. lbs. and showed no breakage.

Complete details of the mechanical testing drop weight impact test method and results were provided to our customer in a Certified Test Report.

Watch the Test Videos

Drop weight test videos taken during testing can be seen on YouTube and include “Drop Weight Test on Forged Wheel” and “Drop Weight Impact Test on Wheel”. Visit LTI on YouTube for more videos at

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