How to Choose the Right Kind of Car Wheel Rim for You

How to Choose the Right Kind of Car Wheel Rim for You

New wheels are one of several great ways to mod your ride. With so many rims available, however, it can prove challenging to figure out which ones are right for you. Here, we’ll go over the primary type of rim options on the market.

It helps to understand which ones are right for you and your vehicle. Hopefully, our tips will help you match the right kinds of wheels to your driving style.

Of course, it’s essential to choose a rim that looks great, but you also want it to improve the performance of your car. Today, you’re going to learn how to choose the right car wheel rim based on your needs.

To learn more about how to choose the right kind of car rims for you, keep reading.

Wheels vs Rims: Different Car Wheel Rim Types

Often, people use the words “rims” and “wheels” interchangeably. Yet, a rim is really only the outer lip of a well. Alternatively, manufacturers press wheels using a single piece of metal.

Wheels and rims are connected closely. However, there are several methods of wheel manufacturing that separate the two features.

Let’s have a closer look at them.

Safety Rims

Nearly everyone’s seen a safety rim. This is the main kind of rim that you’ll see on a passenger vehicle.

Safety rims have bumps that extend inward. The bumps hold the tire bead on the edge of the rim. They also keep the tire bead away from the edge of the outer rim.

Safety rims only work with a lot of assistance from tire pressure. In fact, they won’t do much at all if your tires are underinflated.

Split Rims

Meanwhile, a heavier vehicle might have split rims. Split rooms have a side ring.

It’s also called a locking ring. In either case, the ring holds the tire in place.

You may see split rims on one of several heavy vehicles. These vehicles include tractors and forklifts. You may also see them on other heavy-duty utility vehicles.

In some instances, split rims can prove dangerous. They can separate suddenly and create an explosion risk. Usually, you won’t see split rims on a passenger vehicle for this reason.

Beadlock Rims

A beadlock rim is unique among rims. It physically clamps the tire bead to the rim.

Sometimes, tires have low pressure or are underinflated. In this case, they’re more likely to come away from the rim.

A beadlock rim solves this dilemma. It creates a connection that doesn’t rely on pressure from the tires.

Only a handful of beadlock rims are DOT compliant. Most aren’t acceptable for on-road use. There’s a risk that the bolts that hold the tire to a beadlock rim can come off.

Also, beadlock rims are heavy. As a result, most car owners only use them off-road as four wheeler rims.

Different Materials for Wheels

Moving on to wheels, one of the most important characteristics of a wheel is its material. Firstly, the material of a wheel determines its price.

It will also affect the weight of the wheel. Also, it will affect its durability. You’ll usually find that manufacturers make a wheel using one or more of three materials commonly found in wheels—steel, alloy and carbon fiber.

Steel Wheels

Steel is the least expensive material option among all wheels. Sometimes, you might hear someone call steel wheels “steelies.”

Manufacturers have used steel wheels for years. They’re durable and easy to fix if they get damaged. However, they’re not the most attractive option for your car.

Most manufacturers use steel wheels for new production vehicles. At a minimum, however, they’ll cover them with rims.

A good-looking rim can make your wheels look just like the alloy variety. However, a bad one looks just like what it is—cheap plastic.

Also, steel wheels are heavy. In fact, they’re the heaviest option among the three different wheel material types.

Sometimes, however, heavy is a good thing. A lot of people keep a set of steel wheels to use in the winter.

Heavy wheels can help your car tires dig into the snow. In turn, they’ll improve your traction.

Alloy Wheels

Meanwhile, alloy wheels have a mix of different metals. By mixing metals, manufacturers can provide you with the benefits of each kind of material.

For instance, aluminum is the material that manufacturers often use to make alloy wheels. You’ll often hear these kinds of alloy wheels called “aluminum rims.” Manufacturers may also add magnesium to the mix.

Alloy wheels are lighter than steel ones. As a result, they’re much more desirable for high-performance driving. What’s more, it doesn’t hurt that they’re a lot more attractive.

Also, alloy wheels have better heat dissipation.

Imagine that your breaking hard. During hard braking, overheating can cause your brakes to fail. If so, alloy wheels can decrease the chances of brake failure.

Alloy wheels also use a different manufacturing process compared to steel wheels. Manufacturers can create more intricate designs using alloy for this reason. They can also produce alloy wheels with a greater variety of finishes.

These capabilities make alloy wheels extremely versatile. As a result, they’re a much better choice for most of today’s drivers.

Carbon Fiber Wheels

Finally, you may want to go for lighter wheels if you’re looking to squeeze every ounce of speed out of your vehicle. Carbon fiber wheels are the granddaddy of wheel mods.

These kinds of wheels are strong. What’s more, they’re lightweight and attractive.

Of course, you’ll pay for these benefits. Carbon fiber wheels are also the most expensive wheels on the market.

There’s also one more drawback to carbon fiber wheels. If they break, wheel and rim repair isn’t an option. Here is where carbon fiber wheels have a disadvantage compared to their steel and alloy cousins.

Accordingly, you usually won’t see a set of carbon fiber wheels on most standard passenger vehicles. Typically, someone who buys this kind of wheel has a high-performance sports car.

Hopefully, the cost of carbon fiber wheels will go down eventually. When this happens, a lot more people are likely to buy them.

Nevertheless, carbon fiber wheels are a high-performance modification. They increase handling capability and handle energy efficiently. What’s more, they offer a quiet ride.

Carbon fiber wheels also decrease rotational inertia. This characteristic allows for faster acceleration and deceleration. As a result, carbon fiber wheels offer a great ride.

They also decrease unsprung mass. Unsprung mass is everything between the road and your shocks that doesn’t get absorbed. With less unsprung mass, your ride will perform better.

Again, carbon fiber is the most expensive option of the lot. If you really want them, however, you shouldn’t let the price stop you from getting them. Just remember to take them off your car if you ever sell it.

Wheel Manufacturing Methods

Manufacturers produce wheels using many different methods. These methods have an effect on the durability of the wheels. They also affect the appearance of wheels.

The following entries offer a closer look at those methods.

Pressed Sheet Metal Wheels

Manufacturers usually make steel wheels using pressed sheet metal. They then weld the sheets together. Using these options, manufacturers have limited design options.

Next, manufacturers will paint the steel. Again, car manufacturers will typically hide this kind of wheel under a cover, rim or hubcap.

Forged Wheels

Manufacturers usually forge or cast alloy wheels. When forging wheels, manufacturers use a solid block of metal.

They’ll then shape the metal to the desired form. They’ll also pressurize it.

Forged wheels are lighter and stronger than cast wheels. However, they’re also comparatively more expensive.

Cast Wheels

When making cast wheels, manufacturers pour liquid into a mold. This is a more cost-effective manufacturing practice.

However, this method also has a drawback. Casting creates pores. In turn, pores in a cast wheel can lead to cracks.

Pores are not a problem for regular driving. However, you wouldn’t want to take cast wheels on a racetrack.

During a race, your wheels will build up excessive heat. That heat can cause the pores in cast toils to form into cracks.

Wheel Construction

Manufacturers also construct wheels in several different ways. For example, a manufacturer may create a wheel with one, two or three-piece construction.

This point is important for distinguishing between rims or wheels. With a wheel made using two-piece construction, for instance, the centerpiece and rim are separate.

Each piece may have a different construction. It will also have varying properties.

The same applies to a three-piece rim. With this kind of rim, the construction is further separated into two halves. Each half can have its own material properties.

Wheel Finishes

Wheel finishes are also important. Without a finish, metal can corrode quickly.

As a result, manufacturers must use some kind of finish to keep your rims looking good. Different finishes have different properties.

Chrome Plating

Usually, you’ll hear someone refer to chrome-plated wheels as “chrome wheels.” However, a wheel made completely of chrome would be impractical.

What’s more, it would be outrageously expensive. Alternatively, manufacturers apply a thin layer of chrome to steel or alloy to make chrome wheels.
 Chrome is a classic wheel finish. It looks great at auto shows.

However, it’s highly susceptible to pitting. Also, any scratches can lead to oxidation.

You’ll need to take good care of your chrome wheels. In many cases, you can fix mild scratches in chrome at home.

You want to give your chrome wheels an occasional wash with a soft rag and mild soap. You’ll also want to use a chrome protectant.

Taking good care of your chrome wheels is a lot more affordable than it is to pay to have them replated.

Powder Coating

Powder coating is a popular option for wheels. Also, it allows manufacturers to use bold, bright colors.

However, it takes professional equipment to apply a powder coating. It’s nearly impossible to touch up the finish. Still, you most likely won’t need to concern yourself with a touch-up if you clean them frequently.

However, there’s one thing you want to remember if you have powder-coated wheels. Never use bleach to clean them. Instead, you’ll want to use a non-acidic wheel cleaner.


Who doesn’t love a shiny, polished wheel? Clearcoat is a great way to give a wheel a polished look. It gives elegance to bare metal.

Clearcoat is great for machined wheels. It allows you to show off the brilliance of metal without worrying about corrosion. Also, manufacturers often follow up a layer of paint with a nice clearcoat to protect it.

With clearcoat, you want to stay away from abrasives. Again, you can clean your wheels easily simply by using mild soap and water. Also, you can touch up clearcoat if you want to get rid of scuffs.

Choosing the Right Wheels for You

Some cars take mods better than others. However, any car will look great with a new set of wheels.

A good set of wheels does more than make your car look good. Nevertheless, they’re one of the easiest ways that you can improve the appearance of your ride.

It helps to know about different metals and manufacturing styles. When choosing new wheels, it’s also important to think about how your car will handle. This information will help you narrow down your style options.

Here, you’ll want to look into wheel characteristics such as backspacing and offset. These characteristics tell you how a wheel will sit on your car.

More importantly, it will inform you about how your car will perform after your new wheel installation. It may also help you to figure out how long your new wheels will last.

Figuring out backspacing and offset can prove tricky. Fortunately, you can figure out these characteristics using the handy wheel offset calculator over at OZZYTYRES.

Learn More About Tweaking Your Ride to the Max!

Now you know more about how to choose the right kind of car wheel rim for you. However, there’s always more to learn about making your sweet ride even sweeter.

We’ve covered the different auto wheel and rim types, as well as how to choose the right wheels for you. However, it never hurts to have more tricks up your mechanical sleeve.

Check out our Technical Article forum to learn more about getting the most out of your ride.

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