Cars Equipment

A Guide to Choosing Custom Wheels

When you opt to buy custom wheels for your vehicle, it’s an aesthetic decision, but it’s also more than that. Whether you’re buying directly from a company such as MAPerformance, or you’re buying wheels online through some other websites, there are some things you need to know.

How do you make the right decision that’s going to achieve the look you want but also be right for your vehicle in other ways?

What’s What?

First, if you aren’t completely familiar with the terminology, it’s helpful to have a handle on that. Wheels and rims aren’t the same things, despite the fact the terms are frequently used interchangeably with one another.

Rims are a part of the wheel. The rim is the outer part of the wheel providing a seal between the tire. The wheel is the metal disk that includes spokes and bolts. 

You can buy your rim and wheel together, or as separate components.

What’s the Right Size?

You’ll have to figure out the right size wheel for your vehicle, but luckily you’ll have some flexibility. Most vehicles will fit with a range of wheel and tire sizes. When you measure wheels, it’s by diameter in inches, and you also measure rim width. 

As you’re choosing rims, you’ll measure from end to end. There are reasons to consider diameter not just because of fitting your wheels, but it can have an impact on other things as well. For example, if you want bigger brakes than what comes with your vehicle, you’ll have to ensure you have adequate clearance. As an example, if you have a car from the 1960s with rims that are either 14 or 15 inches, that’s too small for most updated brake systems.

If you were to go with rims that were 17 inches or above, you would need new tires, and that’s going to affect your speedometer, odometer, and brakes. 

If you don’t find wheels that are the right size, you run the risk of a host of issues including declines in driving performance.

What Are Your Goals?

So why exactly do you want to change your wheels? This is relevant, as well. If you just want to customize your car and you only care about how it looks, you just go with your current size and you pick the look you’re after. 

On the other hand, if you want to change performance in some way, you’ll have to look at different factors.

For example, if you want to boost your acceleration and handling, you might want a larger wheel for responsiveness and stability. Bigger wheels also do tend to mean that you’re going to pay more and their lifespan is going to be shorter than traditional wheel sizes, so is that a trade-off you’re okay with?

Smaller wheels with tires that have a higher aspect ratio can mean you’re going to get a smooth ride, but you’ll also get a sporty aesthetic. You’ll be able to deal with road issues like speed bumps more effectively and minimize wheel damage. 

Bolt Patterns

A technicality you’ll have to consider when choosing new wheels are the bolt patterns of your vehicle. The bolt pattern is a term referring to how many holes for lugs are on wheels and their spacing. You’ll have to find that your lugs will line up appropriately with your suspension studs for a new set of wheels to work. 

Additionally, if your vehicle has, let’s say five lugs, it doesn’t mean any five lug wheel will automatically work because the patterns can be different, as can the measurements between each lug. 

Pricing and Looks

Once you know what you need as far as fitting with your vehicle, you can start thinking about the more fun things such as the finish, and you can also consider your budget. Pricing on rims can vary quite a bit. For example, you might pay anywhere from $500 up to $4,000 or more.

Aesthetically there are different finishes to choose from. For example, there are black rims, as well as dark gray, also known as gunmetal. Finishes can include gloss, satin or matte. There are machined rims a well as milled rims with exposed metal or chrome rims. 

Choosing wheels and rims can be overwhelming, and if it’s not something you’re familiar with, you might want to work with someone you trust who does have experience in this area. You can work with someone from a retail company, or a car professional to choose what you want looks-wise but also what’s going to work for your logistical needs.