Updated: May 27, 2015

Wheel Reviews:

Wheels...you can't go far without them. Whether you're hitting the bike pedal or the gas pedal, wheels make the world go round. On a functional level, you don't have a car or bike without wheels. On an aesthetic level, your choice of wheels and rims can make your ride more sporty and help it perform optimally. But your tires are doing the dirty work for your vehicle, whether it is powered by a motor or by your body. They are exposed to hazards, corrosive elements, and tremendous wear and tear. Choosing the best wheels is about more than what is functional and durable, though; it's about what enhances your vehicle's performance.
car wheels

Wheels and Rims - You have to replace your tires every few years, but you don't have to replace your wheels. Typically, the ones they come with from the factory or dealership are fine for the life of the car. They may, however, lack in appearance. This is a major reason why people trade up with new wheels. Another reason is that they want to size the tire up, called plus sizing. Say you have 15 inch rims and plus size to 17. You decrease the amount of sidewall showing while increasing the amount of rim showing. Besides looking sportier, this can deliver better steering response and lateral stability without changing the overall diameter of the wheel/tire assembly. So wheels and rims. What's the difference? Nothing much. The terms are used interchangeably, but today, the rims usually refer to sleeker aftermarket wheels. The black tire fits over the wheels, or rims, and there you have your complete wheel package. Before you plop down several hundred dollars for some rims, knowing the right size is crucial. You can't really make a wheel fit if it is not the right size. There's no squeezing it onto the car or truck. This is the "fitment," or finding the right wheels for your car's measurements. This is based on the bolt pattern, bolt circle, lug nut type, wheel diameter, offset, load factor, centerbore, caliper clearance, and gross vehicle weight rating. Luckily, when you buy online, you typically just need to enter your car's make, model, and year, and you will get a list of wheels that will fit. In a shop, you can give this information to one of the salespeople and they can generate a list of possibilities as well. eBay has a helpful guide that explains what each of these factors means (http://reviews.ebay.com/The-Wheel-Buying-Guide_W0QQugidZ10000000000890789).

Popular Wheel Sizes -

16 Inch Wheels/Rims
17 Inch Wheels/Rims
18 Inch Wheels/Rims

After fit, the makeup of your wheel is the next important factor to keep in mind. Your choice will depend on what you expect from the wheel - do you just want a wheel that will take you to and from work and drive the family around or do you want rims that make other car lovers jealous? If you want a functional pair, steel is a good choice. These aren't flashy, but they are typically much less expensive than the showy models. Steel and chrome may be more appropriate if you want to put more style into your wheels. These are a step up in terms of appearance, but they won't protect your wheels as well from salt or chemicals. Aluminum alloy and magnesium alloy are also top choices for those who aren't really looking for practicality. As you might guess, these last two are also the most expensive. According to car experts, Edmunds.com, "These days it's tough to buy truly bad wheels and tires. While some wheels are lower quality than others, as is also the case with tires, there are so many good ones out there that you will usually have several possibilities from which to choose." Keep your objective and budget in mind, and you should have no problem finding the right truck or car wheels. You can browse the best selling wheels and rims here.

Tips for Buying the Best Wheels:

You can find great wheels and tires online or in automotive supply stores. If you want to comparison shop online, Amazon is a great place to start. When you go to their automotive section, you can enter in the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Say you have a 2006 Jeep Wrangler. You can then select the parts you want to look for: wheels and tires, and it generates a list of possibilities for your Wrangler. From here, you can look through your choices and filter them by appearance, composition, and price. It is a good idea to check out forums, specifically ones devoted to your kind of car, and see what people recommend. These are the real experts, and you'll find a wealth of great advice. One of the best pieces of information you can glean from these sources is the brands that perform best and rate well among real car enthusiasts. Among brands mentioned most frequently in forums are:


One thing you'll notice about these brands is that they are pricy. And by pricy, we mean you can spend more on your wheels than some people spend on their cars. A set of HRE carbon wheels for an Audi costs almost $11,000. By comparison, the $500 you'll spend on each Volk tire seems downright cheap. But remember the good news according to Edmunds: you will have a hard time buying a really bad wheel. You can find rims on Amazon and at auto supply stores for between $70 and $200. Sure, the chrome or alloy rims will be more expensive, but if you're willing to go with steel or steel and chrome, you can knock a bit of the price off. There is a reason why most people leave their factory-installed rims on for the lifetime of their vehicles: new wheels, especially hot new wheels, are expensive. But if your car is more than a mode of transportation, then the extra expense, and the performance that comes with it, may be very well worth the investment. Check out the top brands, but don't forget to consider lower priced rims from AC Delco, American Racing, 5-Zigen, Advanti, and more (http://www.wheelsnext.com/wheels-rims.html). Rims are never really considered a "cheap" purchase, but you can lower the price by going with one of these brands.