You just bought a car or truck, but it looks like everything else on the street. What can you do to make it stand out? The most popular aftermarket upgrade you can do for your vehicle is to get new rims and wheels.
Besides the amazing number of choices, there are some things you need to know about buying new wheels and rims before you go to the shop. Your decision is more complicated than you might think. On the other hand, not only will the upgrades make your ride shine, some new wheels and rims can improve driving performance.
Let’s look at what you need to know.
Types and Materials
Wheels and rims come in three basic materials: steel, aluminum, and chrome. You can also find aluminum or magnesium alloy wheels.
- Steel rims are kind of old school. Most standard wheels used to be made of steel, but manufacturers are moving to lighter metals to boost fuel efficiency. Most commonly found as a 17-inch wheel, steel rims are about 80% cheaper than the competitors.
- Aluminum wheels are much lighter than steel. They are typically alloyed with some nickel.
- Aluminum or magnesium alloy rims are durable, reasonably priced, and very popular. They are lighter than aluminum-nickel alloys, making them the lightest rims on the market.
- Chrome rims were trendy from their inception in the 1960s through the early part of this century. Chrome isn’t solid metal, it is an applied finish over the choice of wheel. They are a little heavier than other rim choices, but they resist rust. However, they can scratch easily; severe weather is hard on them. Also, some chrome finishes used some hazardous chemicals, so they have been banned in some states in the U.S.
- Spinners originated in the 1980s and were popular through the early 2000s. They were available in different colors and spin motions, but are not as common as they used to be. Common colors were white, black, and red, often to match the color of the vehicle.
Now that you have a handle on the various materials and types let's look a little deeper into the manufacture and selection of a boss rim.
Manufacturing Wheels and Rims
Wheels and rims are manufactured in three different ways.
- Casting involves pouring molten metal into a wheel-shaped mold. This process is relatively inexpensive but yields a durable and lightweight wheel. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to repair.
- Flow-forming is performed starting with a low-pressure casting process. Then a high heat/high-pressure spinning machine created the outer hoops of the wheel. These are lighter and stronger than cast wheels while remaining fairly low in price.
- Forged wheels are created by forcing a round bar of metal between forging dies under extreme pressure. This creates a one-sided wheel that is dense yet lightweight. Forged wheels are a more expensive choice, but you can lower the cost with two-piece wheels that are strong and light.
Most of these processes yield a lightweight wheel. Forging increases density and durability while casting is a less costly option.
Specifications and Sizing for Your Rims and Wheels
You might think you want the biggest rims you can find, but read this before racing out to get them. You have three requirements to meet to have wheels or rims that fit your car and look right.
- Wheel size and tire size (in diameter) must match. If you have 17-inch tires, you need 17-inch rims.
- Inside fender clearance is critical, especially if you are increasing your rim size. Larger rims also require you to decrease the side profile of the tire to maintain the appropriate out diameter.
- Match the bolt pattern to your car rims and wheels. If the rim bolt pattern doesn’t match the wheel hub, you are out of luck. Check to see if you have five lug nuts or six, and make sure everything fits.
Just remember that the wheels and the tires have to fit together, and the holes for the lugs need to match. Plus, the entire wheel needs to fit inside the fender with enough clearance to keep things safe.
What do you want out of your new wheels - a beautiful look or better handling? You can get both in a single wheel, but different diameter wheels handle differently.
- Keep the same size wheel the car already has and focus on the rims if looks are all you’re after.
- Larger diameter wheels and tires improve responsiveness, stability and cornering.
- Smaller wheels with taller sidewall tires provide a more comfortable ride and less road feedback. If you live where potholes and speed bumps are common, this may be your best bet.
- All-weather tires improve handling in extreme weather, but you need to pick a finish on the wheel that can stand up to your region’s prevailing climate.
If you just want to make it look good, rims are all you need. If you want better handling, select larger wheels and tires, while smaller ones smooth out your ride.
In winter conditions, a steel wheel adds weight, nearly three times that of aluminum, providing better road grip. Steel is also less expensive than your other choices. Alloy wheels are lighter weight than steel and can be plated with gold or silver if you like.
Because of the lighter weight, your gas mileage will improve. Alloy wheels offer fast acceleration and minimum stopping motion, so less strain on the body - yours and your car’s.
Chrome is flashy but doesn't improve performance, and they can easily become scratched. You might want to consider a backup set of rims for bad weather. Spinners don’t affect performance one way or another - they just look good…if you’re into that sort of thing.
Where to Shop for Rims and Wheels
We will mention a couple of places for you to go for new rims or wheels. As always, be a smart consumer and do your homework before you go.
Located in Bellaire, Tire 59 claims to have the widest range of custom wheels and rims in Houston. They also stock a full range of new tires from manufacturers like Michelin, Goodyear, and Bridgestone. They carry wheels and rims from over 25 different custom manufacturers.
They are used to dealing with exotic cars and are likely to have any size you need in the way of tires and wheels. They offer every size from 13 inches to 30 inches. They can rotate and balance tires and perform vehicle service as well.
Some of the brands they carry in wheels and rims include Rohana, Ruff, Sacchi, and Tezzen Design. Call 832-251-1800. 5822 Southwest Freeway, Houston.
Wayside Custom Wheels
At 10960 East Freeway in Houston, you will find Wayside Custom Wheels. They are open seven days a week, and you can message them on Facebook or Instagram. They carry tires, wheels, and rims from a wide variety of quality manufacturers. Call 713-678-7669.
Have fun putting the finishing touches on your new or used car.