So you want some different wheels than the ones that came on your car when you bought it. When it comes down to it, there's really nothing, not even a new coat of paint, that can change and customize the way a car looks and feels than a new set of rims. But how to go about finding the right wheels for you? How do you make sure they will fit on your car? Believe me, the process of fitting wheels and tires can be much more complex than it looks. That's where a Buyer's Guide comes in. Here in one convenient place, you will find all of my articles related to fitting and buying new wheels, whether from a shop or online.
It's true that many reputable wheel sellers will know this information and will make the right choices for you. But how do you know if a seller is really knowledgeable if you're not? I've seen enough disasters created by people who didn't know - or worse, didn't care – about wheel fitment to think that it's a good idea to leave everything in the hands of the person who wants to sell you wheels. It's always best to be able to discuss things like offset or plus-sizing with some confidence and authority, if only to keep that salesman on his toes!
Alloy vs. Steel
The differences between aluminum alloy and steel wheels are tremendous, and it's ultimately what you as the driver want out of your wheels that will determine which is the best choice for you.
Wheel Anatomy, Parts 1, 2 and 3
You'll want to start by knowing the basic terminology for the parts of any wheel, and how they all work together. Then in the more advanced lessons, you will learn about the mysterious but important sizing issue known as offset.
The bolt pattern is the first and most fundamental fitment issue with wheels – unless the bolt pattern is correct, the wheels will simply not fit on the car. Learn how to find your car's bolt pattern in order to know that those awesome wheels you're looking will even go on in the first place.
Hub-centric vs. Lug-centric
I see more problems with aftermarket wheels that came about because neither the buyer nor the seller understood this concept than with any other issue I encounter. It is incredibly important when buying wheels to know why your wheels must be hub-centric and what to do to ensure that they are.
Wheel Composition and Construction
The many different ways that wheels are built also affects what kind of driving they are best used for. An extremely light, high-performance and correspondingly expensive forged-alloy wheel is hardly needed on the family minivan, but a great choice on the track.
The cosmetic finish on a wheel not only makes a big difference to how the wheel looks – obviously – but also how you will need to take care of the wheel to keep it looking good. Whether the wheels you're looking at are painted, polished, machined, hypersilver or chrome, it's best to be armed with the knowledge of what those finishes really are, and how to go about caring for them before you buy.
Where to Buy Wheels and Tires Online
Online retailers can often be your best choice in terms of buying quality aftermarket wheels. They will generally have a better selection than brick-and-mortar shops and most often will have better prices due to lack of overhead and economies of scale. The best online retailers have a lot of knowledge and very good software to deal with even the knottiest of fitment issues.
The Top 5 Toughest Aftermarket Wheels (And 3 to Avoid)
As a wheel repair expert, I judge the toughness of a wheel by how often I don't have to repair one. Having repaired literally thousands of wheels, I have a pretty good idea of which wheels are the best at resisting damage. Here's my list of the toughest wheels out there.