Image via Flickr by DrivingSpirit
Image via Flickr by DrivingSpirit

Car wheels, also known as rims come in all sizes, designs and materials. It can be confusing for some to understand the difference between the various types of wheels. Here, we provide you with a short education car rims and wheels.

The Reason for the Confusion

Google has long been known for offering alternate suggestions to Internet searches. Search for “car wheels” and Google will recommend:

  • Custom car rims and wheels
  • Alloy rims
  • Aluminum rims
  • Steel car rims
  • And more!

The type of metal materials used in car wheels varies quite a bit. Most auto manufacturers now use alloy wheels—a combination of metals, but what metals? Let’s dig in a little deeper.

The Favored Alloy Wheel: Aluminum and Magnesium

Alloy rims are made from a combination of metals—aluminum and magnesium or both. According to Auto Universum, these wheels became popular in the 1980s although they were first utilized as far back as 1924 on modified racing vehicles.

Although you can ask tire experts what specific metals are used in alloy wheels based on manufacturer, for most cars, vans, trucks and SUV, aluminum alloy wheels come with the vehicle. Sportier vehicles will use alloy magnesium rims—also called “Mag wheels.”

Aluminum alloy wheels are less expensive than Mag wheels but both are now popular choices due to their durability. In addition, whether you choose Mag or aluminum alloy wheels, both tend to be lighter than the older steel material used in wheels. Alloy rims make vehicle handling more responsive including braking.

Chrome Wheels

Take an aluminum or steel wheel and add layers of chrome to it and you’ve got the fashionable chrome wheel. Although chrome rims were once more expensive, with today’s chroming techniques, they can be competitive in price, depending on manufacturer.

Many looking to “trick their ride” will choose chrome wheels because not only do they shine and grab the eye, they are less prone to rust than alloy or magnesium wheels. Adding chrome layers on top of steel or aluminum makes these car wheels heavier.

Chrome wheels also require more maintenance meaning extra attention must be taken to remove debris. There is also polishing involved to keep them shiny as when they were new. Chrome rims are extremely durable in all weather conditions and chrome finishes include matte and black beyond the silvery chrome.

Aluminum Wheels

Aluminum wheels made of cast aluminum or forged aluminum should also be looked at in any post that is all about car wheels and rims. offers that with cast aluminum, the wheels are manufactured by “pouring molten aluminum into a one-piece mold.” And, forged aluminum wheels are fabricated by “by applying extremely high force to the base wheel material in a contained die.” Both types allow for less cracking and forged aluminum wheels are able to stand up to extreme pressure.

Wheel Sizes and Packages

There a multitude of wheel sizes from 17 to 24-inches. Then there are wheel packages. If you are seeking a full wheel package, all that means is the tire is mounted perfectly to the rim prior to installation. If you’re dead set on custom wheels or hot rod performance rims, a tire package is recommended. Finally, even if you choose to purchase alloy rims from a tire store, it’s best to have a professional mount the tires and wheels at the time of purchase to avoid slippage and ensure proper alignment.

Hopefully, you now understand more about the various types of wheels and rims!


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