Wheels and Rims: Does Material Matter?

July 27, 2020

Are you thinking of improving your car’s appearance? Upgrading your rims and wheels is an easy way to do just that without breaking your budget. A lot of people will think of rims and wheels interchangeably, but there’s actually a difference! A tire is wrapped around a wheel and a rim is fastened to the outer lip of the wheel. Rim materials vary in price and durability.

Types of Wheels:

Chrome Wheels: These are actually alloy wheels with a thin layer of coating on the outside to give more lustrous appearance. This trend offers a classic look and will add an extra pop to your vehicle. 

Alloy Wheels: These will cost you a little more than the other sets of rims, but they may be worth it! Because of their light weight, your fuel economy may improve to save you some cash on gas. Be aware that because of their lighter frame, they can bend and crack easier, so watch out for those pesky curbs when driving around town.

Carbon Fiber: These are the most expensive wheels on the market. However, they are light (better gas mileage), and super strong. The automobile industry is hoping to see carbon fiber prices drop as they become more popular.

Aluminum Wheels: Built with a blend of aluminum and nickel, the majority of wheels today are actually made of this material. They are relatively strong, hold up well in heat, are reasonably priced, and have great performance with gas mileage. 

Steel Wheels: Durable and price efficient. Most police cars use steel wheels because they are tough but easy to replace if needed. They are a bit heavier than other standard rims, but they hold up longer and give you some extra traction. Steel wheels are also easy to fix if they get bent or damaged. Expect a little drop in fuel efficiency if you decide to change out for some steel wheels.

Budget Buys

Plastic Rims: If you have a 2- or 3-piece wheel that adds on your rims separately, you may just want a quick and cheap makeover by purchasing some plastic rims. Coming in various designs and colors, you can change these out yourself quickly to completely change the look of your vehicle. This upgrade will not change the performance of your vehicle at all and you can likely do it for less than $100.

Whatever you’re driving needs are, each type wheel and rim cover a different functionality. Do a bit of research and assess what you’ll need most. If you’re looking for something to help improve aesthetics, mileage, traction, etc., rest assured there are wheels and rims to fit every budget.