Most of us buy a car, drive off the lot and don’t think twice about the wheels on the car. But for some people, custom rims are a must-have. Maybe they want stylish rims or want them in a different color. Or maybe you’re getting a custom car built and are very picky about what kinds of wheels you want on your car.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to know what the different types of rims are. It’s also a good idea to know how much a set of rims will set you back. You could get into an accident and need new wheels. Or, you may want to do a cosmetic facelift on your car or truck.
Here, we’ll talk about the main differences between steel and alloy wheels. We’ll also talk about where you should buy your rims if you want the best bang for your buck!
What Factors Affect the Price of New Rims?
If you’re looking to get new or replacement rims for your car or truck, there are a few things you need to consider. The price and availability of new rims depend on a few things:
- The make and model of your car – The more unique your car, the harder it will be to find rims. It will also be more expensive. For example, it’ll cost more to get rims for a Corvette than it would a Ford Taurus.
- The year of your car – It can be harder to find new rims for older cars. For example, if you have a classic car, you may have to search hard for new rims. And, you might end up paying a lot more than you would for a newer car.
- Size – This may sound simple, but the bigger your car, the bigger the wheels. It will cost more to get larger rims.
- Type of Wheels – You’ll need to decide between steel and alloy wheels. The alloy rims are more expensive because they’re harder to make. But they do come in a greater variety of colors and finishes.
- Finish – If you want a basic finish, it may not cost all that much for new rims. However, if you’re going to want custom or brushed finishes, it’ll cost you a pretty penny.
Now that we know what factors impact the price, let’s talk about the main types of rims.
What is the Difference Between Alloy and Steel Rims?
There are two main types of rims: steel and alloy. Steel wheels are just what they sound like. They’re made from steel. They’re rather simplistic and a whole lot cheaper than alloy wheels. This is because they’re a lot easier to make. They also don’t come in all that many colors.
Alloy wheels are made out of aluminum. That’s why they cost so much more. They’re also made differently. They come in all different sizes and finishes. If you’re looking for a custom look, you’ll want to spend the extra money on the alloy rims.
As far as price goes, it varies. It would be impossible for us to tell you how much the rims would be for your specific car. However, size is a big factor. For rims between 15-18″, the price increase is gradual. The price for 18” rims isn’t all that much higher than it is for 15” rims. However, when you start looking for rims that are 20-22″, the price starts to go way up. In fact, there’s a dramatic price increase between 20” and 22” rims.
It’s a Lot More Money to Customize Your Rims
If you get into an accident and just need to replace a couple of rims, you aren’t going to want to spend a ton of money. It will come down to what kinds of rims you already have. If you have steel rims, you can replace the damaged rims for not a lot of money. But if you already have alloy rims, you’d have to either buy a whole new set of steel wheels or just replace the rims that are damaged.
When it comes to customizing rims, however, it can be more expensive. If you’re more concerned with how your wheels look, you may want to go with alloy rims. They come in so many colors. Where the steel rims only come in black, white and grey, you can get alloy rims in just about any color.
Alloy rims are also made differently. They’re available in a variety of finishes. You can even get combination rims that offer the best of both worlds. It’ll come down to how much you want to spend. It will also come down to what kind of car you have.
Rims Are Made Differently Too
Steel rims are made pretty simply. Alloy rims are made in a variety of ways. The most common (and cheapest) alloy wheels are made using a cast. They melt down molten metal and fill a cast in the shape of your wheels. They wait for it to dry and then fit it onto your car.
The most expensive types of wheels are the alloy rims that are single-piece, forged wheels. They are made out of a single piece of aluminum. Then, they’re forged into a cylindrical shape and molded by a special machine. They’re more durable, precise and strong than other types of rims. If you can spring the extra few hundred dollars, then it’s definitely worth it. Even if you don’t spring for a fancy color or finish, alloy wheels are a much better way to go.
They can also do multi-piece wheels. These are comprised of 2-3 pieces that are forged together. Because this takes more work and craftsmanship, it’s a lot more expensive. Regardless of what kind of alloy rims you choose, you can still pick from a wide variety of colors and finishes.
Alloy wheels can be made in almost any color. They also come in a variety of finishes, including:
- Paint coated
- Chrome plated
- PVD chrome plated
Keep in mind – the more intricate the polish, the more money you’re going to pay. You can spend a few hundred dollars on rims. Or, you can spend several thousand on rims.
Where Should You Buy Your Rims?
When it comes time to shop for new wheels, you need to make a decision. Do you want to buy them from a manufacturer (OEM) or do you want after-market rims? There are lots of differences between the two.
OEM rims are made from the original manufacturer. If you drive a Chevy, you’re going to order new rims from a Chevy dealer. If you drive a Ford, then you’d get your replacement wheels from Chevy. However, if you want to save a bit of money, you should consider buying your new rims from an after-market dealer.
OEM wheels cost more money for a few reasons:
- They are safety tested
- They receive a seal of approval
- They are regulated by the auto manufacturers
When you buy aftermarket wheels, you don’t get these reassurances. You could end up with totally garbage wheels and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, for the most part, you’re going to get quality wheels no matter where you buy them. So, if you can get them for a fraction of the price, why not?
If you want to get cheaper wheels, you should go to a wheel distributor or retail outlet. You may even be able to get them at an auto parts store or department store. Just remember – you get what you pay for. Unless you’re looking to really customize your vehicle, you don’t need anything fancy. You just need wheels that will be safe and let you drive your car.
Never Buy New Rims from a Dealership
One word of advice – never buy rims from an auto dealership. Usually, when you buy your new car, they’re going to try to upsell you on upgraded rims. The problem is, they jack up the prices on these rims. They know you’re eager to drive off in a beautiful car. If they think you’re attracted to the wheels, they’re going to push them on you. And you may be tempted to buy them. Don’t. You can drive off the lot and buy the same stock wheels and rims from other after-market vendors.
And remember – if you’re just looking to replace damaged rims, you don’t even have to buy new rims. You can always go to a junkyard and see if there are any rims there that fit your car. Or, call your local mechanic. Sometimes they have wheels that are already mounted on other cars that they’re willing to sell cheap. Not only will they sell them to you, but they’ll also mount them pretty cheap. Just make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.