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Alloy Vs Steel Wheels - Pros and Cons

Alloy Vs Steel Wheels - Pros and Cons

Category : general , 2 years ago

Alloy vs Steel wheels

Today, most cars come standard with alloy wheels, however this wasn’t the case 20 or even 10 years ago when steel wheels (many with elaborate looking hubcaps) were the manufacturers’ wheel of choice due to the inexpensive nature of steel over alloy.

In the past decade, more and more manufacturers have opted to include alloy wheels as the ‘standard’ rim of choice for many of their entry to mid-level vehicles, regardless of the cost (which has dropped significantly, mind you).

Although 90% of drivers don’t give much thought to the actual ‘benefits’ of one versus the other, we thought the differences were significant enough to warrant the writing of this piece with the hopes that the next time you’re considering a vehicle, the inclusion of alloy or steel wheels might help as a bargaining tool.

Alloy Wheels

Advantages of Alloy Wheels

Weight: Aluminum/nickel alloy is a much lighter metal than steel. Alloy rims make for better performance, improved acceleration, and quality of ride.

Because aluminum wheels are lighter, they handle road imperfections better. This means you can achieve better grip when driving around corners and feel fewer bumps along the way.

Because aluminum wheels are lighter, they handle road imperfections better.

Fuel Economy: Lighter wheels lead to improved city fuel economy because it takes your car less effort to accelerate.

Customization: Aluminum alloy can be cast into many different designs which mean they offer you more options when it comes to how your wheels look.

Disadvantages of Alloy Wheels

Durability: Alloy wheels tend to be more pliable than their steel counterpart. Simply put, alloy tends to bend easier under road impacts, even cracking if bent too far.

This means they run a greater possibility of receiving cosmetic damage from collisions, salt, scrapes, and cleaners.

Cost: Alloy Wheels are more expensive. While alloy wheels may look and perform better, they come at a higher price tag.

Steel Wheels

Advantages of Steel Wheels

Durability: Since steel wheels are heavier than aluminum, they are significantly stronger. In fact, because they can bear a greater load, they are next to impossible to crack. And, because they have better traction at lower speeds, they are usually the best choice for off-road applications.

Steel wheels are usually the best choice for off-road applications.

Practicality: When it comes to steel wheels, they can be more easily repaired if dented and they will last almost indefinitely. Depending on your preference, their more utilitarian look may appeal to your taste and style of vehicle.

Cost: Steel wheels are cheaper. Typically, they can be up to ½ the cost of alloy wheels. That extra money in your pocket is a definite plus!

Winter Driving: Steel wheels tend to bite the snow and ice harder. And since they have less agility and response when accelerating, they offer a greater sense of safety due to their heaviness.

Disadvantages of Steel Wheels

Weight: They feel like driving a tank! Their extra weight reduces your vehicle’s agility while lowering it’s’ center of gravity. This can dampen your driving performance, especially in the summer.

Rust: It almost goes without saying that as the paint layer of your wheels comes off over time, the steel will rust.


Alloy wheels refer to any wheels made from a combination of aluminum and small traces of other metals. Aluminum combined with these other metals creates a supremely strong and lightweight wheel. Alloy wheels are also favored for their aesthetic appeal, and they tend to increase the overall value of the car.

Steel wheels are the best economical solution, due to mass production and the low cost of steel. However, they come in very basic designs that can be boring and require plastic hub covers to get the “aluminum wheel” look.

With all that horsepower under your hood, you could think of your wheels in terms of horses. Alloy wheels are like a Thoroughbred; beautiful and built for performance. Steel wheels, on the other hand, are more like a Clydesdale; the tough, strong workhorse of the wheel world. Weigh the pros and cons of both types and be sure to take your personal preferences and vehicles needs into consideration before deciding on the best of option for your wheels!