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The easiest way to give your car a custom look is to replace your stock wheels with a set of aftermarket wheels. Choose the right set, and you’ll turn heads when you roll down the street. Aftermarket wheels can also help improve the performance of your car by providing increased handling and reducing weight. If you like to go off-roading, you can buy a set of wheels that are strong and sturdy. Or perhaps you have a show car that could use a stylish wheel upgrade. Check out the best aftermarket wheels in our buying guide below.
Mickey Thompson Classic III Wheel with Satin Black Finish
Maxxim Air Black
Konig Illusion Black Ball Cut Blue Wheel
- Best Overall: Mickey Thompson Classic III Wheel with Satin Black Finish
- Best Value: Maxxim Air Black
- Honorable Mention: Konig Illusion Black Ball Cut Blue Wheel
Types of Aftermarket Wheels
This is the most traditional material for wheel construction. It’s incredibly durable and strong but also quite heavy. These tend to be the lowest-priced wheels on the market. They all have the least amount of customization and design. Most styles are a solid wheel with random circular punch outs.
There was a time when alloy wheels were only used on expensive sports cars. But as aftermarket wheels become more popular with the everyday individual, alloy wheels have made their way throughout the market. These days, they are the wheel of choice for most people. They have the same strength as steel wheels but are significantly lighter.
These are the strongest wheels on the market. They’re made from forged aluminum. The metal gets exposed to temperatures in excess of 900 degrees to crush it down and make it extremely dense. This makes it both strong and light. Keep in mind that you can’t easily bend them back like you can steel wheels if you bend a rim while off-roading.
Some wheels are manufactured with two or three separate pieces. Those individual pieces are then bolted together. This construction makes them heavier than alloy wheels but still lighter than steel wheels. The multiple pieces give you adjustability for achieving the perfect fit for your car. Two-piece wheels separate the barrel and the face of the wheel. Three-piece wheels take this a step further and make the barrel two pieces.
Best Aftermarket Wheels: Reviews & Recommendations
The Mickey Thompson Classic III Wheel with Satin Black Finish are high-quality wheels from a reputable manufacturer that are sure to impress.
The Maxxim Air Black are the perfect wheels for someone on a budget who is looking for durability and style.
Benefits of Aftermarket Wheels
- Style. Aftermarket wheels give your vehicle a custom look. They are more stylish and compliment the unique personality of your ride than most standard wheels. Consider both the design of the spokes and the finish.
- Performance. Aftermarket wheels improve your handling and overall performance because they are often stronger and lighter. You can also change the size to something wider or skinnier and with a bigger or smaller diameter.
- Longevity. If durability and longevity are a priority, then aftermarket wheels are a smart choice. You can choose a set of steel wheels that are tough enough to withstand the harshest conditions.
Look at the size of your current wheels to determine what size wheels you need to buy. Pay attention to both the diameter and the width. This will ensure you get a direct factory replacement. You can go larger or smaller, but this may require you to make additional adjustments to your car.
The finish is the outer coating and style of the wheel. You can choose from chrome, brushed metal, black, machined, and powder coated. They each have advantages and disadvantages, but it all comes down to your car’s style. Choose wheels that will complement and enhance your car to get the greatest change and effect.
Take a look at the center of your current wheels. You’ll see a series of bolts that are placed in a circle. You need to know how many there are as well as their size. Then you match that to a set of wheels that can accommodate that bolt pattern.
Aftermarket Wheels Pricing
- Under $100: These wheels are the smallest on the market and have minimal to no customization. You’ll be able to find quality steel wheels and lower-quality alloy wheels in this price range.
- $100 to $500: These wheels have more style and different finishes to them. You’ll find them in a broader range of sizes too. There is a limited selection of multi-piece wheels in this price range.
- $500 to $1,000: Higher-end wheels and the largest wheels on the market are in this price range. You’ll find that they have higher-quality construction and the greatest amount of design and finish variety.
- Over $1,000: These are the largest wheels on the market or custom creations. These are the wheels for someone who doesn’t have a budget or is looking to outfit a show car.
- Material: Consider your intended use of the car when choosing a wheel material. Steel is heavy and not the best choice for racing. Its durability makes it perfect for off-roading. Alloy and forged are lighter-weight and have more design options, which makes them perfect for streetcars. Steel reduces gas mileage and does not enhance the looks of your car.
- Offset: The offset dictates where inside of the wheel barrel that the wheel mounts to the car. The mounting plate position needs to match what’s in your stock car, or you risk rubbing on the suspension components or fenders. Zero offset mounts dead center. A positive offset is shifted towards the street side of the wheel. The negative offset is on the inner car side of the wheel.
- Hub or Lug Centric: You want your wheels to be hub centric. This is when the center bore of the wheel fits perfectly onto the axle of the wheel for a flush fit. Lug centric wheels focus more on using the lugs to keep the wheel in the center of the axle. This leaves space between the hub and axle, which can cause problems.
- Look for wheels that fit your current stock setup for the easiest replacement process. You need to know the diameter of your wheels, offset, and bolt pattern. If you deviate too far from these measurements, then you’ll need to make further adjustments to your vehicle.
- Buy rims that match your vehicle’s intended use. There are off-roading wheels that are heavier and sturdier, as well as lightweight racing wheels and over-the-top show wheels. Using the right type will improve the performance of your car.
- There are plenty of options when it comes to color, and the one you choose is all about your personal taste. Chrome wheels can give your car a classic look. Black wheels will give your car a sophisticated and sleek look. Then there are bold and bright colors that will make a statement and turn heads.
Q: Does it matter what metal is used to make aftermarket wheels?
A: There are significant differences between alloy and steel wheels. Alloy wheels are much lighter than steel. However, steel wheels are much more durable and easier to fix. If you’re planning on going off-roading, then steel wheels are durable enough to withstand extreme activities. Alloy wheels work well for street and racing cars where weight reduction is important.
Q: What does the bolt pattern mean on wheels?
A: Take a look at the center of the wheels on your car. You’ll see several bolts holding the wheels on the vehicle. You need to match this number on your new wheels so that there are holes for the bolts to go through. Most cars have between four and eight-lug nuts.
Q: What does offset mean?
A: The offset is where the mounting hub is located. Think about offset from left to right within the wheel. If the center hub is more in line with the outward-facing side of the wheel, then it has a positive offset. If the center hub is sunken in towards the backside of the wheel, then it has a negative offset. If the mounting hub is perfectly centered, then the wheel has a zero offset.
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