One of the most common misconceptions about magnesium rims is that they can catch fire as a result of prolonged scraping on road surfaces. But if true, they would not be approved by the FIA for use in Formula 1 races, because of safety concerns. Although pure magnesium is highly flammable, it is very difficult to ignite in mass or bulk. Additionally, no magnesium wheels are 100% magnesium, but an alloy composed with other elements/ingredients. There are a number of ways to fully minimize the likelihood of magnesium wheels’ ignition. For example, adding 1% calcium to the alloy makes such a scenario nearly impossible to occur even in the event of a complete vehicle fire. (In fact, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has admitted after multiple series of tests that modern, higher tech magnesium alloys are safe for use, even in aircraft seats).
Damping capacity is the ability of a material to absorb energy by converting mechanical energy into heat. Magnesium alloys have an incomparably higher damping capacity. A reduction in vertical movements due to a higher damping factor leads to a savings of kinetic energy, which potentially translates to fuel savings – and certainly translates to improved safety (stopping distance).
The main disadvantage of vintage cast magnesium wheels was their low corrosion resistance. That was why many disappointed users switched to aluminum alloys in the middle of the last century. Since then scientists and engineers have investigated the superior characteristics of magnesium to find a solution to the problem. Today, new magnesium surface treatment technologies have completely resolved the issue, allowing manufacturers to provide extended warranties on magnesium wheels (up to 10 years in some cases). In 2014 – 2015 six out of every ten (60%) buyers of Porsche 918 Spyder have opted for the forged magnesium wheels package.