Alloy vs Steel Rims: Factors to Consider Before Upgrading Your Car Wheels

A photo collage of alloy rims (left) and steel rims (right)
A photo collage of alloy rims (left) and steel rims (right)
Loge Auto Parts

Selecting the right rims for your vehicle is an important decision for any car enthusiast – almost as important as when you’re selecting your actual vehicle.

While road accidents in Kenya are mostly attributed to human behaviour, tyre rims seem to be another major cause of accidents.

“Rims in a vehicle are as equally important as the engine, without them, there is no movement,”

That is according to cars expert Miller who spoke to on why motorists need to be careful when choosing vehicle rims.

A photo collage of a damaged rim (left) and a cracked alloy rim (right)
A photo collage of a damaged rim (left) and a cracked alloy rim (right)
Mechanics Association Kenya

“Some may assume rims are just add-on accessories for show and tell, but in reality, the process of choosing the right rims for your car is much more interesting and complex,” he added.

A car’s wheel refers to the entire rotating disc moving your vehicle. Wheels and rims can be made as one unit or they can be assembled later on as multiple fragments. 

Parts of the one-unit wheel include spokes, lug holes (to secure the rim) and a rim lip.

Additionally, the rim is the outer edge of a car wheel that holds the tire firmly in place, so the tire can rotate in conjunction with the rest of the wheel.

Among the factors that he highlighted as imperative in choosing car rim included;


Appearance and safety often go hand in hand. 

"Well-maintained wheels project professionalism and demonstrate your ability to handle materials, people, or products, but one rusty rim is enough to create a perception of unreliability," Miller remarked.

Cars Function;

A wheel rim’s weight is another factor to consider when buying. 

Your car’s suspension cannot counteract the weight of the rim, so the heavier it is the less agile your car will be. 

The material the rims are made of has perhaps the biggest impact on rim weight. 

Miller advised that it would be good for motorists to seek light rims that nevertheless meet their needs for durability and aesthetics.


A fresh set of rims can give your ride a sleek, upgraded look.

Before you get rid of those generic wheels and slap on some custom rollers, take the time to figure out what size will work best for your vehicle. 

According to Miller, some rims affect the braking system of the vehicle in the long run which could be a cause of accidents.

Type of Tyre;

Wheel size and tire size (in diameter) must match. If you have 17-inch tires, you need 17-inch rims.

Larger rims also require you to decrease the side profile of the tire to maintain the appropriate out diameter.

Match the bolt pattern to your car rims and wheels. The wheels and the tyres have to fit together, and the holes for the lugs need to match.

Bolt Pattern;

The bolt pattern must match the pattern on the axle hub.

This is important because different car hubs have different bolt patterns and the bolt pattern determines which car model a given wheel rim can be installed on.

Motorists should always remember to use wheels with a matching number of holes and diameters.

How to check rims for wear

As with all car parts, anyone investing in used car wheel rims should take the time to check for dents, scratches, tears and other signs of wear before purchasing.  

Miller further advised that if one is not sure how to replace the current part, consult an expert/professional mechanic.

"You don’t want your wheels to come rolling off whilst you’re driving on the road," he stated.

Miller also observed that the government was at fault for allowing the importation of substandard goods into the country.

A vehicle with a polished alloy rim.
A vehicle with a polished alloy rim.
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