Ah, the incredible wheel! Where would we be without it? One of the six simple machines of physics, the wheel has been around for quite some time, dating back to around 9,000 B.C., slightly longer than this writer has been alive.

We won’t bore you with a definition of the wheel but we will bore you by telling you about wheel parts. First there is the wheel itself, that round thing on your car that allows you to roll over surfaces; this writer saw one definition that said the wheel propels a car across a surface but technically that’s not true; the transmission does the propelling and the wheel just facilitates the process.

Next we have the hub, the central part of the wheel through which the axel passes; it is the hub of a wheel that allows the wheel to rotate and without rotating you will be sitting in the driveway for quite some time.

The hubcap is…..are you ready….the cap that fits over the hub. Duh! And finally we have the tire, which technically is not a part of the wheel but if we are talking about cars and trucks it might as well be a part of the wheel definition. And that’s it really; a simple definition for a simple machine. Even though those in physics call the wheel one of the simple machines it is anything but simple; it was one of the earliest of inventions that really has not been improved upon for, oh say, ten thousand years.

And what are today’s wheels made of you ask? Most now are made of aluminum but there are still steel wheels floating around if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a quick trivia question for you: is the car wheel the only wheel in a car? If you said no you would be right on because as a simple machine the wheel is part of most compound machines, or machines that have more than one part. If you were to tear apart a car you would find the wheel in the transmission and you would find the wheel in the engine and the steering column and the fuel pump and on and on we go, where it stops nobody knows….kind of like the Wheel of Fortune!

Before we get too silly let me point out that there is no reason to buy a new wheel should you need one; go to your favorite neighborhood salvage yard and pick up some used wheels or used car parts for half the price; used replacement parts are a smart thing to buy when money is tight. Check out your local junk yard and see for yourself. Wheel parts are always plentiful, easy to install and last for decades.