Alloy Wheels vs. Steel Wheels: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Each

February 07, 2018

Alloy Wheels vs. Steel Wheels: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Each

First and foremost, the main purpose of the wheels on any vehicle is function. However, for many, there’s also a style aspect to them as well. When it comes to wheels, alloy and steel are the two most popular materials on the market today. Yes, there’s carbon fiber and a few other options out there, but by and large, it all boils down to steel and alloy. 

With that in mind, you might be wondering what the better option for your vehicle is. Steel or alloy? Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of wheel.

Alloy Wheels: What You Need to Know

Like we said in the opening, while wheels are designed to properly function and perform, many also consider them a complement to a vehicle’s style as well. If you’re among that crowd, then aluminum, or alloy, wheels are the way to go. In fact, it’s the way most automakers have opted to go with the models they develop, as alloy wheels have become more popular than steel ones today. Alloy wheels are stylish, as they’re offered in many different designs. They also come in a range of sizes and with various different finishes. Finally, alloy wheels typically offer performance benefits over steel wheels. Combine their stylish nature and performance benefits and it makes for an attractive product.

The key reason why alloy wheels typically perform better than their steel counterparts is because they are lighter in nature. It’s this lightweight offering that puts less strain on a vehicle’s suspension, permits faster starting and stopping, and also allows for better fuel economy. If you regularly drive in more demanding conditions, alloy wheels may also be the right choice for you. That’s because they’re better able to dissipate heat from critical vehicle components, like the brakes.

While there’s a lot to like about alloy wheels, they aren’t without their disadvantages. The biggest, arguably, is that they’re more prone to cracks, dents and damage. This is because alloy is a less durable material than steel, so while drivers typically choose alloy wheels at least partially for their appearance, their durability should also be a factor that is taken into consideration when weighing the pros and cons of each. Another factor that may prohibit drivers from going the alloy route is the higher cost of such wheels when compared to steel.  

Steel Wheels: What You Need to Know

The two big advantages of steel wheels are that they’re more affordable and more durable than their alloy counterparts. In terms of the latter, it’s next to impossible to crack a steel wheel, a characteristic that makes it an ideal option for vehicles when driving in more rugged conditions. What’s more is that steel wheels won’t rust just so long as paint covers their surface. While it’s true that steel wheels may dent or bend, these irregularities are usually easily resolved by hammering the material back into its proper shape.

Despite affordability and durability benefits, steel wheels also have some notable drawbacks. For instance, they don’t look as good as alloy wheels and there’s not as vast of a selection as there are with alloy wheels. While you can purchase wheel covers to improve the aesthetics of steel wheels, their overall appearance can be a prohibiting factor for many.

The other main disadvantage is that steel wheels weigh more than alloy ones. This excess weight can potentially decrease a vehicle’s center of gravity and put more wear on the suspension. It can also negatively impact a car’s fuel economy and cause handling and acceleration issues. It’s important to note, however, that this excess weight from steel wheels can come in handy during the winter months when it can work to better stabilize a vehicle in snowy or icy conditions. For this reason, many drivers opt to swap out their alloy wheels for steel wheels during the winter season. Steel wheels may be an ideal year-round choice for vehicles that regularly off-road and heavy-duty work trucks.

A final drawback to steel wheels is that they’re not applicable for all vehicles. Most are only available in 16-inch rims and they’re not intended to be installed on vehicles that were designed to operate with alloy ones.  

So what wheel option is best for you? Steel or alloy? Be sure to consider the pros and cons of each type. For more information on the key differences between alloy wheels and steel wheels, contact HD Wheels or visit www.HDwheelsUSA.com today.





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