Pro and Cons of Alloy and Steel Wheels
Steel Wheels Pro: Price
Not surprisingly, steel wheels are significantly less expensive than alloy wheels. The price for a new steel wheel starts at about $50 dollars compared to the price for a new alloy wheel which starts at about $75 each.
Steel Wheels Pro: Heavier
Steel wheels are heavier than alloy, so it can lower the car's center of gravity. If the vehicle had alloy wheels prior, it’ll feel more like a tank with the heavier steel wheels. This can be an advantage in the winter when the extra wheel weight helps tires grip the snow tighter. Having a vehicle with less and agility, a low center of gravity and a sense of solid heaviness can be a plus in certain terrain and weather.
Steel Wheels Pro: Stronger
Durability is definitely a selling point when it comes to steel wheels. What steel lacks in attractiveness, it makes up for in strength. Steel wheels are significantly stronger than alloy wheels. To bend steel wheels is a feat, and it is almost impossible to crack them. Cosmetic damage to steel wheels is not nearly as common as it is on aluminum wheels.
Steel Wheels Con: Size
It is uncommon to find steel wheels over 17 inches in size. Usually, steel wheels are less than 16-inches in size which is a limiting factor as to what types of vehicles they work on. Steel wheels aren’t ideal for oversized brake calipers or suspension tweaks which are also subject to wheel size specifics.
Alloy Wheels Pro: Versatility
The true beauty of alloy wheels is their ability to be dolled up. They can be polished, painted, machined or chromed. The entire look and feel of an alloy wheel can be altered by any of these processes. A word of caution though – they are vulnerable to more surface damage than a steel wheel, such as curb scrapes, saltwater corrosion, and acid cleaners.
Alloy Wheels Pro: Variety
Unlike steel wheels, aluminum can be cast in many different designs, giving a unique look to a vehicle, and offering owners the chance to customize even more. The aluminum (and nickel) alloy is significantly lighter than steel and makes for more agile performance and acceleration.
Alloy Wheels Con: Weaker
Alloys tend to bend under road impacts and can crack under pressure. Depending on the amount of nickel in the aluminum, it can cause the wheel to be more pliable or brittle. Generally, the lighter the wheel the softer and more malleable it is. Casting or pressure forging during construction also affects the alloy's strength.
Overall, if you are seeking an attractive, versatile performance wheel in many shapes, sizes and prices, an aluminum (alloy) wheel set is probably the best choice for you. If you are seeking a basic looking, inexpensive wheel that will withstand road hazards and winter weather over the long-haul, the steel wheel is your best bet.
Do you have steel or alloy wheels and need some service? Contact us here. Find out what we can do for you.
Not ready to take the plunge? Follow us on Instagram to get inspiration and ideas for your next wheel job.