Alloy Wheels vs Steel Wheels – Explained

alloy vs steel feature
By - Manjul Sharma
March 9, 2022

Are alloy wheels stronger than steel wheels? Why are alloy wheels so costly? And which one is the truly better option for your car?

The wheels on our cars are offered with either steel wheels or alloy wheels. While the type of wheels fixed to a car greatly influences its looks, not many people know they play a significant part in the car’s performance as well. We explore what exactly alloy and steel wheels are, their relative merits, and which one is more suitable for your needs.

What are Alloy Wheels?Alloy wheel

Simply put, an alloy is a substance made by combining two or more elements, at least one out of which is a metal. This mixture of elements typically has better strength and corrosion resistance. These in-fashion alloy wheels in cars are mostly made of a mix of aluminium and magnesium, to achieve the desired structural integrity.

Note: – As we are comparing alloy wheels and steel wheels, it’s worth noting that steel is also an alloy and is made by mixing iron and carbon.

Advantages of Alloy Wheels

 

Tata Harrier alloy wheel

Their better looks are the most apparent advantage of the alloy wheels. You may have heard of “Diamond Cut alloys” and “Laser-edged alloys” in many car advertisements. In India, alloy wheels enjoy separate, special mentions by automakers, and come mostly in higher variants.

Also Read – Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels

2. Alloy Wheels are Lighter in Weight

This is one of the primary reasons behind making alloys. Their lighter weight helps to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, which further leads to better fuel economy, braking, acceleration, and longer tyre life. 

3. Alloy Wheels Contribute to Better Vehicle Performance

Since wheels are independent of the suspension system, the reduced unsprung weight of the alloy wheels transmits less inertia to the coil spring. This translates to less wear and tear of the suspension and better vehicle dynamics.

4. Alloy Wheels are Free from Corrosion

You’d probably already know this, but aluminium alloys are known for their ability to resist corrosion. So alloy wheels in automobiles are immune to rust that may eat away at your steel wheels.

Disadvantages of Alloy Wheels

 

As we have already mentioned, alloys aren’t pure metals, and are expensive to manufacture, buy, and repair. This is why alloy wheels are mostly offered in the higher trims of a car. Moreover, to own the car with alloy wheels you need to pay considerably higher than you would for the trim with steel wheels.

Just to help you put things in perspective, steel wheels fitted on to a Hyundai i20 comes 1000 rupees apiece, while alloy wheels on the same car set you back by as much as 12,000 rupees each. Is it a big difference? If you truly prize appearance and and are willing to shell out a premium for it, then maybe not. To the rest, it could be a crucial deciding factor.

2. Alloy Wheels are Less Flexible, can Crack under High Impact

Unfortunately, alloy wheels, once damaged, cannot be recovered. So, one needs to be very careful about alloy wheels, especially while off-roading!

What are Steel Wheels?Steel Wheel

As the name suggests, steel wheels are made of steel, which is the most robust form of iron available in the automotive world. Due to its strength and durability, steel has been used in major constructions, railway tracks, building endoskeletons, foundations, etc. In automobiles, steel wheels have been around for ages and are still preferred for many of their properties.

Advantages of Steel Wheels

 

The manufacturing of steel wheels is considerably easy, which makes them cheaper to buy. The steel wheels cost approximately 70-80% less than alloy wheels.

2. Steel Wheels are Durable and Easily Repairable

Hyundai Creta steel wheel

Steel wheels are a common sight on rugged SUVs known for their off-roading capabilities. Moreover, steel is relatively more malleable and ductile which makes it easy to repair.

Disadvantages of Steel Wheels

 

Since steel wheels are relatively heavier, and thus they increase the unsprung weight of the car and degrade the ride quality a little.

2. Steel Wheels are Prone to Corrosion

Steel is prone to corrosion and a humid atmosphere can take a toll on steel wheels. However, modern painting technology and dedicated paints can make the steel wheels resist corrosion to a great extent.

While alloy wheels look more stylish and enhance fuel efficiency and ride quality to some extent, there are some rugged traits of steel wheels that you can’t turn away your eyes from. Hopefully, this article will help you make a more informed decision while choosing the perfect car.

FAQs on Alloy Wheels vs Steel Wheels

Which is better alloy or steel?

Both alloy wheels and steel wheels have their advantages and disadvantages. While the alloy wheels provide better looks and are lighter in weight, the steel wheels are cheaper and more easy to repair.

Which is stronger, steel or alloy wheels?

Contrary to popular belief, steel wheels aren't stronger than alloy wheels.

Why are alloy wheels better than steel wheels?

Alloy wheels are lighter than the steel wheels, which improves the fuel efficiency and ride quality of cars. Moreover, alloy wheels are considerably better-looking than steel wheels.

Why do steel wheels come in the lower variants of cars?

The cost of manufacturing steel wheels is less than that of alloy wheels. This is why steel wheels are available in the lower variants of cars.

What are the benefits of steel wheels?

The steel wheels are easier to repair, and cost less than alloy wheels.

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