Which Wheels are Best for Winter Use?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Many drivers seek plain black steel wheels (also called steel rims) for winter use due to their low cost and durability. In many cases, steel wheels aren't available for a vehicle due to brake caliper clearance or another reason, and therefore an aluminum alloy wheel must be used instead. For a comparison between the two options, read "Steel Rims vs. Alloy Wheels for Winter Use."

While many aftermarket wheels work quite well for winter use, not all wheel finishes and sizes are appropriate or ideal for driving on snow-covered roads. Here are some examples of finishes and/or fitments that you should try to avoid if possible: 

  • Lower offset wheels that will stick out. Wheel and tire combinations that stick out will throw more snow, ice, sand and other debris up against the side of the vehicle. Some aftermarket rims can stick out too far and cause this problem. When possible, try to be more conservative by selecting wheels with higher offsets to keep the wheel and tire set-up within the vehicle's fender wells.
  • Polished and chrome wheels. These types of wheel (including those with chromed lips) finishes either have no protective clearcoat or a very light clearcoat and aren't going to hold up well for winter use. The salt, ice melt chemicals and sand used on winter roads will quickly destroy the finish on these wheels.
  • Some wheels with machined faces and lips with thin, sprayed, clearcoats. Just like fully polished and chrome wheels, these types are vulnerable to salt, ice melt chemicals and sand. It's best to keep them away from these to maintain a good looking wheel finish. Remember, not all clearcoat finishes are the same.

Are you not sure which wheel to choose? Don't worry, we work closely with wheel manufactures to assure the finish of the wheels we have listed with our Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Packages can hold up in harsh winter environments. When you shop for wheels on our site, the wheels and sizes listed are pre-filtered to avoid possible finish problems, as well as fitment issues. You can rest assured that the wheels you purchase will be great for winter use and will go well with your winter / snow tires!

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