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What to Look for in a Steel Wheel: A Buyers Guide

Educational  ·  May 12, 2021

What to Look for in a Steel Wheel: A Buyers Guide

Let’s suppose that you’re shopping around for some aftermarket wheels. You’ve taken the time to compare steel and alloy wheels (perhaps by reading our previous article on that topic). After taking the time to consider your options, you now have your heart set on getting your beloved vehicle a new set of steel wheels. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you're shopping for an individual steel wheel or a whole brand-new set of them, there are a few things you'll want to consider. 

First, you need to look for the size of the wheel and the bolt pattern—they should match your car’s requirements. Then, you can start sorting your options according to price, wheel load rating, and aesthetic features like colours and finishings.

That might sound like a lot of things to compare when picking out a steel wheel, but don’t fret! Let’s take a closer look at each of those points together.

5 Things to Check When Buying a Steel Wheel

Here we go.

Wheel Bolt Pattern 

Whenever you’re shopping for new steel aftermarket wheels, the first thing you’ll want to check is the bolt pattern on your car.

The bolts that keep the wheels attached to the car come in specific patterns, such as 4-, 5-, 6-, or 8-lug patterns. In other words, the steel wheels you're interested in will have to match the bolt pattern on your car. If not, you'll never be able to attach the wheels to your vehicle.

The bolt pattern might not sound like a big deal to someone unfamiliar with steel wheels, but it’s definitely the most fundamental criteria you have to satisfy.

After all, you don’t want to spend a pretty penny on a beautiful but useless set of new rims!

Steel Wheel Size 

When it comes to bolt patterns, your choices are binary. By that, I mean that either the steel wheels fit that bolt pattern or don't. There's no wiggle room there. However, it's a little bit different when it comes to size.

When shopping for aftermarket wheels, you may go for a steel wheel that’s either bigger or smaller than the one you currently have. This is often referred to as plus or minus sizing your wheels.

When you plus-size your wheels, you’ll find that the wheel’s overall diameter will be larger, but the tyre’s sidewalls will appear smaller. Down-sizing your wheels will have the opposite effect: smaller diameter, more extensive sidewall profile.

Of course, there's a limit to how far up or down you can go in size. That limit will depend on things like your car's design and local laws. Going too far in either direction could result in damage to the vehicle (as the oversized wheels scrape against the body) and affect the vehicle's driving performance.

Your Budget

Once you’ve got your bolt pattern and sizing clear, shopping for aftermarket wheels becomes so much easier. That’s because you’ll be able to filter out which steel wheels are or aren’t compatible with your car from the get-go.

With those two considerations out of the way, now comes another important one: budget. Here’s a quick car owner’s personal finance tip: Never walk into an auto parts shop without a set budget. If you do that, you could end up overspending!

With a clear budget in mind, shopping for aftermarket wheels becomes even easier, as you’ll narrow down your options to whichever ones you know you can afford.

Wheel Load Rating

Okay, so this one might not be a concern to many people, but it's still worth mentioning. When shopping for aftermarket steel wheels, you'll also want to consider the wheels' load rating.

The meaning of that term is straightforward: all wheels are rated to carry a certain amount of weight. The maximum weight that the wheel can carry is known as its wheel load rating.

Again, this won't matter so much if you're only carrying people in your car, if at all. 

However, for anyone planning on carrying any cargo regularly, this is something you'll want to consider very carefully.

Coloured or Not Coloured?

Now that all of the crucial considerations have been sorted out, we’ve finally come to the more ‘fun’ aspects of shopping for aftermarket steel wheels. Ask yourself this: Do I prefer my wheels coloured or not coloured?

Most people will stick to neutral and generic colours for their rims. However, if you’re customising every other part of your car, you’ll probably want to know that you can also do the same for your rims.

Sure, you could always paint your steel rims later. However, you can get some tyres "off the rack" already painted in the colour of your choice.

Of course, this is a matter of personal preference and taste. Be sure to choose a colour that matches the rest of your car’s aesthetics.

Choose Your Finishing

Last but not least, you can also choose your steel wheels based on their finishings. This is another aspect of aftermarket wheels that’s more about aesthetics rather than performance. So, you’ll want to make your choice based on the overall style of your vehicle.

Some common finishings include:

Your choice when it comes to steel wheel finishings will affect the overall price of the rims, as well as the maintenance required once you have them on your car. After all, no one wants to drive around with expensive rims that aren’t shining bright for everyone to see!

Visit CarPartAU for More Articles Like This!

To learn more about aftermarket wheels and other car parts and accessories, check out the blog at That blog has plenty of frequent updates teaching you everything you need to know about customising your car. Ready to shop for some new steel wheels instead? Check out the Marketplace or Car Part Finder to get your hands on what you need!

By Ray Hasbollah

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