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Thread: Steel Wheels vs Aluminum/Alloy Wheels

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    Junior Member WILLTAKE's Avatar
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    Default Steel Wheels vs Aluminum/Alloy Wheels

    I am looking at purchasing a new set of wheels to replace my smashed and bashed steel wheels. I am currently running 15 x 10 chrome wagon wheels. I figure with the new lift etc going on the Jeep it is time for new rims. I lean towards steel but wanted to know if anyone has any real world knowledge on the aluminum/alloy rims on the trail. I have tried to research the topic a little on my own but everything just seems to compare maintenance aspects. Please let me know if any of you guys running trails or your buddies on the trails run aluminum rims and how they hold up.
    A simple misunderstanding gets a lot less simple when you add choppers and a SWAT team.

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    Breakage = Upgrade! jsargent's Avatar
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    I just replaced my aluminum wheels with steel. I had bashed 3 out of 5 bad enough that there was no way to get a tire back on them. It may have just been cheap wheels. YMMV

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    Junior Member CJ2aChad's Avatar
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    If you already bashed a set into submission i'd say get the steelies, they're cheap and tough as hell
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    G.I. Grandpa SGM O's Avatar
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    Aluminum/alloy wheels are lighter and stronger and on a daily driver will give you better all around performance, but they are more expensive and when you do bash one off road you usually need to take them to a specialty shop to get repaired.

    Steel wheels are almost as strong and weigh more which will negatively effect your mileage to some degree, but they are half to 1/3 the price of aluminum and can be fixed on the trail with a hammer.

    Depending on where you wheel, steel also stands up better in rocks. It will dent and scratch, but allow rims will peel leaving a sharp edge that may cut into the tire.

    Another feature to look for is valve stem placement. If the valve stem is recessed in the wheel there is less chance of ripping it off or damaging it off road. You didn't mention what tire size you were running, but you may want to look at an 8" wide wheel instead of 10" as it will help hold a bead at low pressure better.

    I have my 35" BFG AT mounted on alloy rims and my 35" Trxus M/Ts on steel rims.

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    Junior Member WILLTAKE's Avatar
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    I will be running 35x12.50 BFG MT's. I am currently running 33x12.50's on a 15x10 rim. I have been running that size tire,wheel combo for about 10 years and never thrown a bead even around 10 psi. At the time I bought the rims I asked around and everyone said a 10" rim would hold the bead better. Has common opinion on that changed or was it just the people I talked to? Why would a 8" rim hold the bead better than a 10" rim? It would seem that the sidewalls being pulled in to meet the rim would unseat quicker.
    A simple misunderstanding gets a lot less simple when you add choppers and a SWAT team.

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    darwinism at its best irish1371's Avatar
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    i ended picking up a set of mt classic 2's with the fake bead lock. Got all 4 for like 200 so I figured for that price i can handle the cheese factor of the fake locks. Found one wonderful side effect of those rings.. they suck up rim damage like mad. top it off when they do get trashed(the ring) you can usually find replacements on ebay for dirt cheap.

    my fake lock rings look like they have been slammed with sledge hammers repeatedly but the rims are in perfect shape behind the rings. also rocks wont be able to "shave the rim
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    High Speed, Low Drag XtrmTJ's Avatar
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    If you are looking to be a Rock Racer where seconds and lbs/oz matter then go Aluminum. But if you are a weekend warrior like the rest of us, then go steel. More bang for your buck, can be bashed in , hammered out and still hold air. Been on this set of steelies for over eight (8) years now. Bent one so bad it would not hold a bead, hammered it out and have ran it for over 4 years now with no problems. IMO, go steel !
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    G.I. Grandpa SGM O's Avatar
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    Willtake, interesting, I have always heard and read that the 8" rim will hold up to a 12.50" wide tire better at lower pressures and the extra side wall bulge will help protect the rim, and give you more traction and that a 10" rim will give you better on street ride and handling.

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    Junior Member WILLTAKE's Avatar
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    SGM O, thanks I had not heard that insight before. The tire bulging to protect the rim seems like a very possible thing. I know that I end up having to bend my rim back into shape fairly regularly with the 10" rim.
    A simple misunderstanding gets a lot less simple when you add choppers and a SWAT team.

  10. #10
    Senior Member HillBillE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGM O View Post
    Aluminum/alloy wheels are lighter and stronger and on a daily driver will give you better all around performance, but they are more expensive and when you do bash one off road you usually need to take them to a specialty shop to get repaired.

    Steel wheels are almost as strong and weigh more which will negatively effect your mileage to some degree, but they are half to 1/3 the price of aluminum and can be fixed on the trail with a hammer.

    Depending on where you wheel, steel also stands up better in rocks. It will dent and scratch, but allow rims will peel leaving a sharp edge that may cut into the tire.

    Another feature to look for is valve stem placement. If the valve stem is recessed in the wheel there is less chance of ripping it off or damaging it off road. You didn't mention what tire size you were running, but you may want to look at an 8" wide wheel instead of 10" as it will help hold a bead at low pressure better.

    .
    I concur

    Quote Originally Posted by SGM O View Post
    Willtake, interesting, I have always heard and read that the 8" rim will hold up to a 12.50" wide tire better at lower pressures and the extra side wall bulge will help protect the rim, and give you more traction and that a 10" rim will give you better on street ride and handling.
    Thats my experience also.

    Tire choice has a lot to do with how well wheels hold up also.

    Mud type tires usually have a stiffer/heavier sidewall, and tires like the Cooper STT and MAXXIS Big Horns, have extra rubber that sticks out, protecting the wheel.

    Up here, a lot of our wheeling is in old iron ore mine pits, and the rocks are brutal! You can ruin a set of alloy's in one trip easy.

    Some guys up here run 'rock rings', they do the same job as a fake beadlock, by protecting the wheel from rock rash.


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