Whether you want to customize or update your truck’s look or improve the overall performance and how well it drives, many truck owners replace their rims. If you’re a first-time truck owner or have never replaced your rims, our buying guide gives you all the information you need to buy the right truck rims.
Wheels and Rims: What’s The Difference?
Even people who have a good understanding of vehicles may not truly know the difference between wheels and rims. Since you can’t have one without the other, wheels and rims are often considered to be the same thing, but both play integral (and different) roles on your truck.
The wheel is a metal disc, and it has spokes and a bolt pattern where the lug nuts attach to the wheel to your truck’s hub. The rim is the outermost part of the wheel, and the tire fits over the rim creating an airtight seal.
When you get a flat tire, you’re essentially driving on the rim. Both wheel and rim have an essential role in how well your truck drives, and if you have the wrong truck rims or wheel, you could cause some serious damage to your truck.
A Few Reasons To Replace Your Truck Rims
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Many people upgrade their truck rims for aesthetic reasons. Others swap out stock rims for something more lightweight, which results in speed but the ride might be a little rougher. Aside from a cosmetic upgrade on your truck, a bent rim is one of the main reasons for replacing the rims on your truck.
Bent rims can lead to flat tires and other serious (and expensive) problems, but it’s virtually impossible to visibly tell whether or not your rim is bent or damaged. Here are some signs that indicate that your rims may be bent or you should at least get them checked out before replacing the rims.
The Steering Wheel Is Shaky
When you’re driving down the road at 60 mph, a shaky steering wheel that vibrates heavily can be a little unnerving. While a shaky steering wheel may indicate something as simple as needing your tires balanced (which is a relatively inexpensive fix), it could be a sign that your rims are bent.
A bent rim means that your tire is unable to make even and consistent contact with the road. If you feel a shakiness or strong vibration in your steering wheel, the front rims are likely bent while a shake farther back in the vehicle may indicate a bent rear rim.
Your Truck Doesn’t Handle Like It Usually Does
Your truck may “feel” different when you drive it for a number of reasons such as road conditions, but when your truck starts to drive noticeably different and doesn’t return to handling like you’re used to, it could indicate a bent rim. Bent rims can affect tire pressure and even the control you have over your steering.
Even though it can be difficult to see whether or not a rim is bent simply by looking at it, visible damage to your wheel may indicate that your rim might be damaged as well. If you have a hard time determining which part of the wheel is damaged (and whether it’s superficial or serious) and if your rim might be affected, have a wheel and tire professional check it out.
Frequent Deflated Tires
Tires deflate frequently for a number of reasons, such as the age and wear of the tire or colder weather, but if your rim is bent, you may lose air in your tires more often and quickly since the seal is not tight.
Selecting New Tire Rims
If your tire rims are bent, or you want to upgrade to something a little more aesthetic, it’s best to shop around before you buy the first ones you find. Purchasing the right size tire rim may be a “no brainer” for many truck owners, but it’s worth noting since many people end up purchasing or looking at rims that aren’t the best fit for their truck.
Shopping at your local tire shop and seeking help from a tire professional is often the best option when looking for new rims for your truck, but you should also have a good idea of what to look for and different aspects of measurements for the right fit. Here’s a closer look at the dimensions.
Positive and Negative Offset
When you see the term “offset,” this refers to the position of a wheel’s mounting plate to the centerline of the wheel. A positive offset means that the mounting plate is closer to the street side while a plate with a negative offset is closer to the brake side.
Some mounting plates are located in the center of the wheel, and this is referred to as “zero offsets.” If you want a “deep dish” look on your rim, it’s best to select a negative offset mounting plate.
The backspacing is the distance from your wheel’s mounting plate to the rear edge. Backspacing is important to pay attention to because original wheels and rims are designed to fit your truck safely and without impeding on your suspension or brake calipers.
Backspacing is important to consider when selecting rims but especially if you’re adding a lift kit to your truck (which is common for truck owners who want to swap out their rims).
If you like how your truck handles, it’s best to stick with the same diameter. The diameter is measured from just below the outer rim and is referred to as wheel size. Larger wheels and rims are popular for upgrading trucks, but bigger isn’t always best. The diameter of your wheel will determine your truck’s acceleration, handling, braking, and other performance features.
Bigger wheels may look better, but it can result in a rougher ride or fitting improperly, which can ultimately affect how well your truck performs. Other measurements to consider include the width, center bore, and load capacity. Whether your new rims are based on aesthetics or function, the dimensions are likely to differ.
Choosing The Right Material For Your Tire Rims
Rims are made of steel, aluminum alloy, and carbon fiber. Depending on your reason for replacing the rims on your truck, you may prefer one material over another. Here’s a quick overview of each one.
- Steel: Steel rims are inexpensive and have a basic design. They are typically heavier and handle the wear and tear a little easier.
- Aluminum alloy: Many truck owners prefer aluminum alloy rims because they are lightweight and durable. They are often a middle-of-the-road option and are more aesthetic than steel rims although they are not as sturdy as steel.
- Carbon fiber: Carbon fiber rims are rare for trucks, but they may become more popular. They are expensive and more prone to damage, which may not make them an ideal choice for rims for trucks.
Tips For Buying New Truck Rims
If you need to replace your rims due to damage, finding replacement rims may come at an inconvenient time particularly if you have a limited budget. While you may be able to find some relatively inexpensive rims, keep in mind that it may alter how well your truck rides. You may be able to find used tire rims for your truck, but if possible, this should be your last resort.
Even “gently used” rims may be damaged, bent, or have issues that are not easily visible upon a quick inspection. A used rim may be a great option for a temporary and quick fix, but it is not your best long-term option. Whenever possible, try to look at rims in person. Visit your local tire shop or talk with a tire professional that you can trust. Even if you end up purchasing your rims online, it’s best to see rims in person to see and feel the quality and durability.
Each truck owner may have different needs and preferences when buying new rims, so it’s important that you work with a company that is knowledgeable in all sizes and types of rims. A tire and rim professional should lay out all of the basics and allow you to make a decision based on the facts (and your preferences) rather than feeling pressured to buy a specific type of rim.