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Old 05-22-2007, 08:06 PM   #1
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aluminum vs. steel

Does anyone have any hard data on the difference between steel and aluminum wheels? I haven't been able to track any down on the internet. People always say "yeah, aluminum wheels are lighter!", but no one can ever say by how much.

So.. does anyone have any experience with this topic?
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Old 05-22-2007, 08:24 PM   #2
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They aren't light enough to make the difference in price worthwhile.
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Old 05-22-2007, 09:16 PM   #3
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I did a little checking on the price of stock wheels.
the 11 pound civic vx wheels cost $113.83 each
my crx hf steel 4.5" wiede wheels that weigh just over 12 pounds cost $74.77 each
for the same year of crx only in the dx trim leavle the 5" wide rims cost $99.71 each, I don't know the exact weight on them because I haven't pulled one off the parts car to weight it, but I suspect it's around 15-16 pound each judging from the last time that I had one off.
honda insight 14" x 5.5" wide alloy wheels cost around $268.32 and weigh around 11 pounds.
decrative alloy wheels tend to just be that, form over function, a 15" wheel weighing 15+ pounds is listed on tirerack.com as being "light weight" and are going to need tires as well, 18 pound tires insted of 15 pound tires, so spend alot of money, and you are adding more rotating unsprung weight to your car, and out of all the places that you can have weight, that is where you don't want it.
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Old 05-23-2007, 06:59 AM   #4
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A big factor in alloy wheel weight is whether they are cast or forged. Forged aluminum is much stronger, and can be made lighter. Cast alloy wheels are for show, not for performance.
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Old 05-23-2007, 07:05 AM   #5
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Cast or forged, the primary advantages to aluminum are that for the same size of wheel, they can be lighter, and they also permit a more open design for better brake ventillation.

Ask for weight specs before buying any aluminum wheel. If they can't tell you what they weigh, you probably want something else if weight is your primary concern.
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Old 05-23-2007, 07:45 AM   #6
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FWIW, when I changed from factory steel 14in wheels to factory aluminum 15in wheels on my S15, the wheel/tire combo was 5lbs lighter with aluminum than steel. Overall tire height was the same, the 15in tires were sized to match the 14in tire height. I think I went from 35lbs to 30lbs on the wheel/tire combo. The tires on the 15s were new Michelin X radials (noisy tire, high rolling resistance, but they do handle well, do not recommend), the tires on the 14in steel wheels were cheap worn out POS Douglas tires that the previous owner had on.

With the superlight econoboxes most of you here drive though, I wouldn't worry about strength of the wheel. I've not seen one yet that had a weight limit less than 1000lbs, which means you can carry 4000lbs on a set of 4. I like to see at least 10 percent more capacity than the GVWR, which is the maximum amount the vehicle should weigh when fully loaded, including passengers.
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Old 05-23-2007, 09:55 AM   #7
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I checked out some aluminum wheel weight specs, they really vary all over the place even for the same size wheel. Lots of them are heavier than plain steel wheels.

I think if you research what's available for your car you likely can find wheels that weigh less than stock. Or can find larger wheels in alloy that will be less than stock when paired up with not-too-heavy tires.

But I'm a cheapskate. I bought junkyard Volvo 15" steelies that fit my car (originally supplied with 14"), so that's the deal for me. I'm not going to spend several hundred dollars for something just because it's shinier than what I already have.
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Old 05-23-2007, 10:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erdrick View Post
Does anyone have any hard data on the difference between steel and aluminum wheels? I haven't been able to track any down on the internet. People always say "yeah, aluminum wheels are lighter!", but no one can ever say by how much.

So.. does anyone have any experience with this topic?
Go to your local junkyard and see what they have available for your car. Then grab a steel one and an aluminum one. See which is heavier Kinda seems obvious.

Anyhow, where I live, they salt the roads, so I wouldn't recommend an aluminum wheel anyways, they corrode badly around here.
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Old 05-23-2007, 10:47 AM   #9
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Anyhow, where I live, they salt the roads, so I wouldn't recommend an aluminum wheel anyways, they corrode badly around here.
Well, then you polish off the corrosion, and the wheel is even lighter! ;-)
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Old 05-23-2007, 12:36 PM   #10
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Well, then you polish off the corrosion, and the wheel is even lighter! ;-)
After a few years it would weigh nothing! Awesome!
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