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Do I have original wheels on my car?

 

What’s on my car, factory original rims or aftermarket?

Factory wheels are the original equipment manufactured wheels, aka OEM wheels, that were placed on your car when it was first put together. To further clarify, when you buy a new car, the wheels are stock original (assuming the dealership has not changed them out). Most cars nowadays have many rim options for each variation of a model in a given year. Stock wheels are different from aftermarket wheels in that they are produced by the carmaker as an original equipment wheel. Aftermarket wheels are produced by various other companies that either create custom rims or sometimes remakes of original wheels, however these “remakes” are not considered OEM, and are actually what the OEM wheel industry commonly calls “replica” wheels.

StockWheels.com does not deal in custom rims, but we find many customers inquiring about them. Here are some ways you can tell the differences between an original wheel and a custom aftermarket:

Example of custom aftermarket center caps

Factory original wheels can sometimes be identified by the center cap logo; however, even this can be deceiving as some custom wheel manufacturers place a sticker on the center cap that mimics the factory original center cap. 

 

Wheel's Bolt Pattern

Another way to tell if a wheel is aftermarket is by looking at the bolt pattern. Many custom wheels were designed with multiple lug holes in order to fit different vehicles. 

 

Example of VIA on a wheel spoke

 

Aside from the center cap logo and bolt patterns, you can check the back of the wheel for OEM markings. Almost all stock rims will have a manufacturer number or logo that tells the story. If all you can find is a number you can search online to find out, but again, be careful because some factory wheels do not have OEM markings. However, it is almost always true that if your cap has no OEM logo AND there are no factory original equipment stampings or markings on the back of your wheel, that it is not a stock wheel. Some other aftermarket tell-tale stampings are “max-load” and “VIA” as factory original wheels do not have these markings.

Some factory wheels may have been chromed at a certain point, meaning that the original has been altered as the owner may have chromed his or her used rim to change the look. That used wheel is now considered aftermarket because it has an aftermarket finish, even though it is a factory original rim. 

StockWheels.com deals with stock original steel and alloy wheels. With our OE rim knowledge, we'll be quite happy to seek out your correct replacement wheel whether it's a second-hand rim or a reconditioned wheel. And if you simply have some questions to ask and are not necessarily in the market to buy, call us! We’re here to help!

 

 

Pros and Cons of Steel Rims

Pros and Cons of Steel Rims

 

Are Steel Wheels Better or Worse for My Car?

Steel rims can be a less expensive option for a vehicle and are a better choice in a snowy or salt air climate. However, steel rims are also heavy which can affect the car’s overall performance. Here is a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of steel stock wheels and rims.

Black Steel Rim

Steel is Heavier

OE steel rims are heavier than alloy wheels. The extra weight can cause your car to burn through more fuel. However, their weight can also help your vehicle have better traction, which is ideal in snowy conditions.

Steel wheels are the more economical choice

Steel rims are less expensive than alloy rims, especially if we are talking about factory original wheels. Also, even though they are susceptible to rust in a damp or salt air climate, they can be reconditioned very nicely in most cases! Aluminum rims are more likely to become damaged beyond repair if not kept up!

Steel Wheel Designs can be Plain

Steel OEM Jeep Rim with Cap

Original steel rims will often have very simple plain designs, especially when the finish is black. The image above is representative of a “styled steel wheel” which is usually painted silver and would come with a center cap as opposed to a full-size hubcap and thus leaving exposed the stylization. The black cap in the middle is not part of the wheel. Some may not like this look on their vehicle and may opt for a more shiny alloy wheel, and perhaps even a chrome wheel. However, factory OE steel rims may also be fitted with hubcaps or wheel covers that give it the appearance of aluminum. If you are deciding between steel and alloy for your wheel, check out our comparison of the two.

Production is Fairly Simple

Since steel OE rims look plain and are less complicated to produce, they cost less than other wheels. This can make them a great replacement wheel when you need a quick swap of your original rim if it is damaged. Many will keep an OEM steel rim in their garage as a spare in the event of an accident (So many cars do not come with a spare wheel and tire these days).

They are a less expensive option

Many customers do not need or want an expensive reconditioned rim on an older car model. StockWheels.com stocks thousands of used rims, new take-offs, and reconditioned wheels in a wide range of conditions! We use a grading scale that defines used wheels from new to well-used. Even if you receive a stock wheel that may not be the prettiest cosmetically, that wheel will always be a straight and serviceable OEM wheel.

Click here to search through various car makes and models such as Toyota steel take-off rims, Ford original steel wheels, and Dodge steel OEM rims.

 

Protecting your OEM Wheels from Theft

While car theft is a commonly reported issue, you may also be vulnerable to another type of crime, rim theft. How can you guard your vehicle against a costly loss? 

 

StockWheels.com has collected some of the best tips to help you protect your wheels. 

  • Alarm System. A loud alarm will deter almost anyone who is up to something no good. 

  • Build bonds with the people living in your neighborhood to increase the chances that someone will report suspicious activity. 

  • Whenever possible, always park your car in a closed garage or park in a populated area with a lot of foot traffic or hopefully in view of security cameras. Well-lit areas are best!

  • When parking, try turning your front wheels! Cranking the steering wheel all of the way will make it a bit harder to pull off larger diameter, and usually more expensive alloy wheels. 

  • Park your car as close to the curb as possible to help deter wheel theft. This way, there's no space for a jack-lift. Be sure to make sure that the rims don't scrape against the curb! 



In the event you are the victim of rim theft, have a spare wheel. So many cars do not come with spares anymore. Ask us about a spare tire and wheel, but keep in mind that it may not fit well in the trunk. StockWheels.com is also here to help if you happen to scrape or scuff up your wheel. Our wheel repair services are top of the line while our stock wheel experts know how to provide excellent customer service and get the job done in a timely manner. Read more about alloy wheel repair and reconditioned wheel services here

 

Also, if your OEM rims do need replacing, whether they are damaged or stolen, we can help you find your replacement wheels within our large inventory of stock factory original rims. Stockwheels.com carries both steel rims and aluminum alloy wheels in a wide range of conditions from used wheels on up to fully remanufactured factory original wheels.

 

We stock used rims, new take-off wheels, and reconditioned rims. Our wheels are graded on a scale that helps you find the right stock wheel for you. Check out our factory original wheel selection here

Can’t find the wheel? Just give us a call, and one of our OEM Stock Wheel Experts can help you! (800) 224-1208

 

Pros and Cons of Alloy Wheels

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of alloy factory original wheels?

Aluminum alloy OEM wheels have become the standard for many cars today. Alloy wheels have more performance advantages and are considered better looking than steel rims. So why don’t all cars have stock alloy wheels? Even the best looking wheel has its disadvantages. Here is a brief look at some pros and cons of OE alloy wheels.

The Advantages

Chevy alloy wheel

It's common knowledge that the car’s weight can affect a car engine's efficiency, gas consumption, and more. For instance, the heavier the car, the more fuel is used. Aluminum rims weigh less than steel rims and the lighter weight helps in reducing fuel usage and engine strain. Also, the lightness of the wheel allows for the car to roll more easily, and this means quicker acceleration and ease in sharper turning.

Aside from the performance advantages, individuals prefer aluminum alloy rims and wheels because they are more attractive on a car. Steel rims normally will have a more plain design. Aluminum is not as dense, making it more malleable, this allows for more elaborate wheel designs which is why you see the intricate patterns on factory original aluminum alloy rims. Aluminum rims, especially in recent years can also come with many different finishes ranging from the traditional silver and chrome to now, black chrome, hyper silvers, charcoals, and even all-black as factory OEM.

 

OE Chevy Alloy Rims with different finishes

The Disadvantages

Alloy wheels are not as strong as other wheels and can be easily damaged. They can bend, crack, and scratch much more quickly than say a steel rim. Some alloys are prone to corrosion, especially in wet salty environments. So they would not be a good beach or winter wheel. For example, during the winter in snowy climates, roads will be salted to keep them from icing over. Machined lips are a great place for road salt to collect and cause the top coating on the wheel to peel. Steel, and especially alloy rims need regular maintenance especially in salt air conditions such as beaches.

Alloy wheels can be expensive. Not only is aluminum alloy a pricey material because it's a combination of different metals such as nickel and aluminum, but the production process is also costly.

The Consensus

So while there are definite advantages for aluminum alloy, there are still disadvantages attached. The decision on whether to buy an alloy wheel comes down to preference and environment. At StockWheels.com, you can find used rims, new take-offs, and reconditioned wheels in both steel and alloy.

With a large selection of steel and alloy wheels and rims, we can help you find the exact wheel you're looking for. Besides our replacement wheel services, we also offer used wheel reconditioning, center caps, and will buy your used factory original rims. Regular hours of operation are Monday - Friday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM and Saturday 9 AM - 1 PM. 

 

 

 

Reconditioned Wheels vs. Used Rims

Differences between a used wheel and a reconditioned rim

A used stock wheel is an OEM wheel that has been mounted on a car and may have sustained a bit of wear over time. While a reconditioned wheel is a used stock wheel without significant damage that has been polished, painted, machined, or a combination of to appear as a brand new factory original rim. When comparing a reconditioned wheel and a used wheel, the considerations are appearance, cost, and a customer’s personal preference.

Reconditioned Wheel vs Used Wheel 

 

A used wheel can look less appealing than a reconditioned or a new take-off wheel. A reconditioned wheel is meant to appear shiny and new. When we obtain used wheels, we first begin by inspecting the wheels carefully for any damage. We note cosmetic damage that has occurred over time using our 12-tier A through F grading scale. This easy to understand grading system describes wheels from brand new to heavily used condition. For instance, our “B Grade” wheel will have a minor scratch/scuff or two, is nice and shiny, and of course, is a straight wheel! Here is a quick look at our grading scale:

 

A Like New

It looks brand new but has been mounted. No flaws on the face of the wheel. New take-off with minimal miles. What you would expect on a new car.

B Good

Good at first glance. Few minor scratches are noticeable at a 10-foot distance. Has a bright uniform finish. No deep nicks in metal. No missing or dented metal.

B- Good

 

Good at first glance. Same as “B” but has light curb rash.

 

While a reconditioned wheel starts as a used OE rim, the reconditioning process can be laborious and time-consuming, making it more costly than a used wheel. If the used OE wheel passes our stringent examination, they will go through the reconditioning process to make the used OE wheel look like a new factory original rim. Some wheels need to be straightened and repaired if they have dents or scratches. Other wheels sometimes need to be stripped of their finish and then repainted. But due to the labor and materials used during the reconditioning process, a reconditioned wheel will cost more than a used wheel. However, if the used wheel is an A+ that has never been mounted, then that wheel may also be higher in price.

When it comes down to deciding between a used rim or a reconditioned wheel, the decision is personal. If an individual has a new model and they hit a pothole causing damage to their wheel, then that person may prefer replacing their wheel with a reconditioned wheel so it will match the others. On the other hand, another person who owns an older vehicle may not need to replace their wheel with a reconditioned rim because then they would have one oddball out of four. They may prefer to have a used wheel that matches the other three wheels. Cost and wheel appearance will play a part in deciding which is best.

Stockwheels.com specializes in both used wheels and reconditioned rims. With over 150 years of stock wheel experience, we can help you find the right wheel for you and your needs. Based in Los Angeles, we sell and buy wheels throughout the country. Find your replacement wheel in our large selection of factory original wheels in both steel and aluminum alloy.

Buying a used wheel

Why buy a used wheel?

 Used Stock Wheels in Warehouse

 

Why would someone prefer a used wheel over a reconditioned wheel?

Is it safe to drive on a used rim? A straight used wheel that has been carefully inspected may be a good option compared to a reconditioned rim or an expensive brand new OEM wheel. And for some, you may not even need a shiny new looking wheel if you have an older car that might otherwise have wheels that are faded and or have scratches. Here at StockWheels.com, we are experts on factory original rims and OEM wheels. With over 150 years of combined stock wheel experience, we can help you make an informed decision on whether or not a used wheel is the right choice for you.

Used wheels can be inexpensive and a great option compared to reconditioned rims that tend to be higher in price because of the reconditioning process. While we do sell reconditioned and new factory original wheels, you may not need that “like-new” wheel. We often see situations where an individual simply needs a quick replacement rim to get them back on the road ASAP while staying under budget. Aside from pricing, if a person owns a much older car, they may not want a shiny new wheel because it won’t match the other 3 wheels. Our inventory of used OEM wheels is graded using our 12-tier A+ through F grading that categorizes them based on the wheel’s appearance. This easy to understand grading scale takes into account wheels that have never been mounted as well as wheels that look good at first glance but may have a few minor scratches noticeable at a 10-foot distance.

We inspect every wheel on the way in, and at the time of sale! When we receive a used rim, before entering it into our inventory, it must undergo a rigorous inspection. The wheel is inspected at least twice to ensure that it is straight and serviceable. If we obtain a significantly bent factory wheel that is beyond repair, the wheel will be scrapped.

While there are more reasons as to why a person may prefer a used wheel, it’s mainly a subjective decision based on the look of the wheel and its cost. Considering a spare tire and wheel for emergencies? These days as many cars do not come with a spare, we even see people that keep a used wheel in the garage just as they would with a tire. This is a smart move for anyone that does not have a minute to spare!

While we stock a large selection of used OEM rims for over 40 makes, we also offer new take-offs and reconditioned wheels in both steel and alloy. Aside from our wheel replacement services, we offer to recondition used wheels. One of the best parts of our wheel reconditioning service is that if we receive a wheel that is damaged beyond repair, we will let you know RIGHT AWAY. However, if the wheel has sustained some curb rash, light scrapes, and other minor damages such as slight bends, we will get it done quickly and usually on the next business day! You can even send pictures to get the repair process started. Just text a pic to 951-RimText (951-746-8398).

To find out more about our reconditioning and other wheel services, click here.

Looking to sell your used rims? Sell your used wheels to StockWheels.com here!

Sparkle silver or Hyper silver, How can I tell the finish?

Stock original wheels come in various finishes. Most people have heard of sparkle, standard or just plain silver finishes on their factory original rims but there are also wheel finishes under the name hyper silver. These were originally produced as OEM parts for companies such as BMW and Audi but now are on a much wider array of vehicles. What is the difference, one might ask. The various finishes each have unique qualities that may be hard to discern but will be clarified here by none other than StockWheels.com.

Standard silver rim finishes of course should be the easiest to recognize. Imagine plain silver, no sparkle, not darker or lighter, but standard grey silver wheels. This stock option is just a basic dull silver color. This finish is often on steel wheels but also makes its place as an original finish on aluminum rims. Sparkle silver is basically the same, but with a slight sparkle as the name implies. There are metallic flakes in the paint and give the wheel a shinier, sparkly look and whether those flecks are large or small, abundant or minimal, give the OEM wheels their originality.

Hyper silver can look similar, however has slight differences. There are darker hyper silver rim finishes that often consist of a duller, darker version of silver. This finish gives the wheel a shady or smoky look caused by the dark undercoat and a light overcoat. There are also lighter hyper silvers wheel finishes, and as one could imagine, a lighter silver. These consist of a light base coat in addition to the light overcoat, which gives it a brighter silver finish. In addition to having a slight color difference, hyper silver rims do not contain any metallic flakes. However, because of the special process that is used to create these hyper silver rims, it is often hard to recondition them and create the exact same finish of the factory original wheel.

How can I tell if my wheel is steel or aluminum alloy?

Steel and aluminum refer to the material or metal the factory original wheel is made with. There are also chrome stock wheels but they are in another category. To understand the difference between the rims, you can examine a few different factors. Weight is one of the main differences between alloy rims, another name for aluminum, and steel wheels. Steel wheels are much heavier than their aluminum counterparts. This characteristic allows for cars with stock alloy wheels to maneuver better since the vehicle is lighter. Steel wheels on the other hand weigh the car down. However having used steel rims on your vehicle may lead to some advantages such as during snow season. The extra weight of steel wheels allows your tires to have better traction with the snow. This weight difference also leads to strength differences.

Although this detail may not be recognizable in distinguishing whether you have steel or alloy used rims, steel wheels are less likely to be damaged by an impact of some sort. Because of this difference in material strength, factory original steel rims often have very plain and simple designs. On the other hand, aluminum stock wheels are much more malleable. This allows for the intricate designs on many aluminum wheels. So another way to tell the difference between your OEM used wheels is to determine whether the design is as simple as five flat spokes or a bunch of holes around the rim or as intricate as 12 Y shaped spokes or 10 double spokes. However, original equipment steel rims may also come equipped with hub caps or wheel covers. These are plastic covers that give the look of aluminum wheels but don’t be fooled. Underneath this alloy rim designed like cap is still the plain and simple steel wheel.

OEM aluminum rims also come in various finishes ranging from painted to chrome to polished to machine finished. Factory original steel wheels are most likely a painted finish, unless a hub cap is placed onto the used rim.

Check out our pros and cons for steel and alloy OEM Wheels:

Pros and Cons of Steel Rims

Pros and Cons of Alloy Wheels

What are "Reconditioned" wheels?

A reconditioned wheel is actually a previously used rim that had no major prior damage and has been, in essence, refinished to look brand new.

Factory original used wheels are the initial product. These OEM used rims are then carefully inspected for damage. If curb rash or face gouges are too deep it may not be deemed repairable. Additionally, the used wheels are checked to ensure they run straight and true. Significantly bent factory wheels are not able to undergo the reconditioning process and will instead be scrapped. Curb rash, light scrapes, and even other damage including minor bends or wobbles may be repairable.

Once these used rims pass the rigorous inspection, they are put through a process to return the used factory wheel back into its “fresh off the manufacturer’s line” look as much as possible. The process of reconditioning does not weaken or damage the wheel.

During the reconditioning process, the wheel will be straightened, repaired, and metal may be added if need be. Machined wheels will be re-machined to ensure the original factory look and feel. Painted rims will get painted as close to if not the exact factory color as the original. Polished wheels will get re-polished and Chrome wheels will get stripped new chrome will be applied to the wheel.

The final product is a beautiful used factory original reconditioned wheel that looks just as good as new. We stand behind our reconditioned wheels and if for any reason you did not get what you ordered, contact us right away before the wheel is mounted or used and we will do what we can to ensure your satisfaction.

Polished vs. Chrome. They're both shiny right?

Absolutely, both stock rim finishes are shiny, but a different process for each factory wheel finish is what the difference is. Both final products give a nice reflection but the factory original rims get this way in a different fashion.

Chrome OEM wheels, usually steel wheels to begin, go through a process of plating, often with various metals, with the final layer being chrome. This gives the OEM wheel a very bright and almost mirror like finish. Due to the plating process if damage is done to the chromed used wheel the process to fix it must include re-chroming the used rim, which can be costly. This process also leads to heavier wheels which can have an effect on the performance of your vehicle

Polished original wheels are actually just the aluminum of the rim sanded down and then polished to create the shiny, more colorful finish of the factory rim. Because there is no protective coat over the aluminum the wheel itself can be damaged more easily but repaired with less cost to you. Also since there is no addition of materials to the wheel, it stays lighter and performance is maintained. The choice between the two breaks down to your preference.

Maintenance is required for both finishes to maintain the OEM wheel’s durability as well as the luster of the finish. Polished wheels may need to be cared for more frequently considering there is often not a protective coat over the wheel’s finish. Chrome may begin to fall apart if not cared for and can lead to corrosion of your used rim even though its original function was to protect the metal beneath.