Is there a performance Difference between steel vs aluminum wheels?

Discussion in 'Lifted & Offroad Suspension' started by 1flyfisher, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. 1flyfisher

    1flyfisher Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    If so what exactly and how much?
    I am getting a new GMC Savana and they come with the steel ugliest wheels so I intend to replace them with some chrome, aluminum, painted or something wheels.
  2. TRPLXL2

    TRPLXL2 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Is the van a 1500 or a 2500? Aluminum wheels are high strength especially if the are one piece forged such as Alcoa wheels, there is nothing wrong with steel wheels other than there less than desirable looks. A lot of aftermarket chrome wheels are 3 piece wheels, that are welded together robotically. I had a set of Weld Racing wheels on 35" tires on my Silverado, and within 4 years I had 3 bent rims and I never went off-road. So as far as I am concerned aluminum one piece are the best for a 2500 series, such as the OEM 2500HD aluminum wheels that come on the Silverados which I have also seen on these vans.
  3. 1flyfisher

    1flyfisher Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    The GMC Savana I am getting (it's on order) is a 1500 AWD. I plan on driving it offroad in easy conditions like wash board roads, snow, sand, dirt roads but no serious or rough off roading or mudding or rock crawling. Just dirt dirt roads to get me into the back country. The steel wheels it comes with are very ugly and I want new wheels and tires. I plan on driving on the wheels and tires from the time the vehicle arrives to next fall then I want some excellent All Terrains like BFG AT's, Toyo Open Country At's, Goodyear Silent Armours on there with some new wheels.
    I was thinking about these wheels.
    They are American Racings Offroad ATX Series and one piece.
    Aside from durability of steel or one piece wheels what is the performance difference if any?

  4. unplugged

    unplugged Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Theoretically alloy wheels would be lighter. My recollection is they got the moniker "mag" wheels because truckers saved weight on their 18 wheelers by using magnesium wheels. Saving weight saved fuel. Trucking companies saved money on fuel which offset the high cost of early alloy wheels like the Alcoa's used on trucks.

    Their use in racing cars like the Halibrands on the 60's Cobras ensured that they would find their way onto road cars. OEM alloys were slow to gain wide acceptance outside of specialty cars until the 80's. Remember the BBS alloys on 80's BMW's and Porsches?

    Not all alloy wheels are lighter than their steel counterparts. Today a major concern for alloy wheel design is style rather than substance. Also some alloys are not rated for carrying heavy cargo loads. The classic Centerline drag wheels were rated at 1300lbs/wheel. I look for a truck wheel rated at 1800lbs/wheel or higher.

    As far as a performance difference between the two, it depends on what you are measuring.
    A road racer needs to reduce unsprung weight to help keep the tires in contact with the ground.
    Someone concerned with fuel economy wants the lightest possible wheel.
    For a show car, alloys win hands down.
    For a daily driver, its cheaper to use oem steel.
    For off-road use I prefer a steel wheel. I find them more durable than alloy wheels. If I bend a steel wheel, I have a better chance of beating it back into shape so I can get my rig back to the pavement.

    With the variety of alloy wheels today you can choose SHOW or GO. They only limitation is your budget.

    btw, I'd take a pass on the Goodyear Silent Armors. They are puncture magnets. I've had better experience with the BFG's.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  5. 1flyfisher

    1flyfisher Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    So there really isn't much of a performance difference between steel and other wheels for normal driving?
    I didn't think there would be much. I imagine there is some but not a whole lot.

    Goodyear Silent Armours have kevlar belts. I have read a yon of reviews on Tirerack and Discount Tire websites and elsewhere and have never heard of any puncture issues. Where did you get this information?
  6. unplugged

    unplugged Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I got 20,000 miles on a set before I upgraded to the Wrangler MT/R Kevlars. Way better tire for off road use. The final straw was picking up a utility knife blade in the sidewall while off-road. I was getting 1 - 2 punctures a month. I have no troubles with the MT/R's yet with 6 months of use. The tread pattern on the MT/R's is noisy on the highway. I'd rather put up with a little noise that have to change flats everytime I'm off road.

    For light duty off road I prefer the BFG KO's, but I've heard good things about Toyo's.
  7. 1flyfisher

    1flyfisher Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    Well you must be jinxed/unlucky. They've sold millions of them and one person having bad luck doesn't make a tire a bad tire. Unless it is happening to other owners of the Silent Armours. Did you have a P rated tire? I am undecided but I will still consider them and see if there are any common issues with them. Yes you can't go wrong with BFG AT/KO's. I have had several sets on my Jeep and have loved them. I will probably get them again since they are cheaper than the GY SA's but we shall see.
    I hope you have better luck with the MT/R's.

  8. vncj96

    vncj96 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    But depending on where you live aluminum wheels are JUNK in the extreme cold. they can bond with the seal for tires and leak more then steel. And when i say extreme I am not talkin antartica, here in MN some have to deal with it.
  9. 1flyfisher

    1flyfisher Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    I'm in the Tahoe/Ca Sierra's. We get tons of snow but not prolonged sub zero temps. It isn't cold like the middle of the country where it gets -20 to -30 or even colder. It can often be in the 40's during the day. Teens to 20's at night most common.


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