November 22, 2022

Aluminium vs Steel Alloy Wheels

Choosing the right alloy wheels for your car is an important decision to make, especially if you live in harsh climates or drive your vehicle as part of your job. 

Keep reading our guide to find out more about the two main types of alloys, and how they differ from each other.

What are steel alloy wheels?

Steel alloy wheels are made from a combination of iron and carbon. They are heavier than aluminium alloy wheels, but are much more durable and can be easier to repair and refinish

Steel alloys also offer more resistance to cracks or damage caused by gravel and brake dust, which makes them a popular choice during winter. 

Read our blog on What Alloys are Suitable for Winter Use to find out more.

What are aluminium alloy wheels?

Aluminium alloy wheels are a blend of aluminium and nickel – the majority of wheels today are cast aluminium alloy, meaning they are made by pouring molten aluminium into an alloy mould. 

They are lightweight, but strong and can withstand heat well. Aluminium alloys are a good choice for balance, aesthetics and cost.

What is the weight difference between aluminium and steel wheels?

The average weight of steel wheels is around 78 lbs, which is approximately 30 lbs heavier than aluminium, which usually weighs an average of 47 lbs. 

Depending on what vehicle you have, you may see the effects of steel wheels. The thickness of steel wheels can make them wobbly, and changing from aluminium to steel can make it seem like your vehicle is harder to stop or drive in general.

What is the strength difference between aluminium and steel wheels?

Steel wheels are significantly stronger than aluminium wheels, meaning that they are ideal for driving in harsh conditions. It takes a great amount of force to bend steel wheels, and it is almost impossible to crack them. 

Aluminium is generally stiffer than steel, and they can be susceptible to scratching, oxidation and cracking.

Are steel alloys or aluminium alloys cheaper?

Steel is generally cheaper per pound compared to aluminium, making steel alloys cheaper to purchase. 

The cost of the raw material will have a direct impact on the cost of the alloys you choose, and generally, aluminium will be more expensive because of this. 

Benefits of steel wheels

For drivers looking for a cheaper and more durable alternative to aluminium wheels, steel wheels are a great choice. 

  • Steel wheels are significantly stronger than aluminium wheels, which makes them ideal for winter use and more powerful vehicles. 
  • Cracking is also nearly impossible with steel wheels as it would require an incredible amount of force, and as long as you maintain a layer of paint on your wheel, they will not rust. 
  • Cosmetic damage is not usually an issue either, as they naturally look quite rough. This can make it easier to repair the wheels if they are damaged, as there is no fear of damaging the appearance.

Benefits of aluminium wheels

Aluminium wheels are generally more appealing than steel wheels and they tend to perform better too.

  • They are made from multiple metals, meaning they are lighter than steel wheels which reduces overall fuel consumption through improved braking, acceleration and handling. 
  • There is a large selection of aluminium wheels to choose from as they can be cast into a variety of different designs. This allows more customisation for your vehicle compared to if you choose steel wheels. 
  • Using aluminium wheels also means you will reduce your fuel consumption. With lighter wheel frames, it will put less strain on the suspension of your car allowing for faster acceleration.

Which is better: alloy or steel wheels?

Whether you choose alloy or steel wheels will all depend on the specific needs of your vehicle and your environment. 

If you live in an area which is constantly faced with poor weather conditions, such as snow, ice and rain , steel wheels may be the better choice for you. 

However, if you are only likely to face snow and ice during a short period of the year, aluminium alloys will be the best choice for you.

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