Aluminum vs. Steel Wheels

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Dec 20, 2005
Well, a search brought back many threads about aluminum vs steel tubs, fenders and other body parts, but not wheels. I currently have 35" Toyo Open Country MT's and will soon be upgrading to the 38x14.50x16 size. The 38's weigh 99 lbs. I'll be using wheels with a 2 or 2.5 inch backspacing. My 40 is primarily used off-road on rocks and snow. Axles, knuckles, diff gears, drivetrain etc. have all been upgraded so strength isn't a problem.

What is the consensus on wheels though? Aluminum is lighter, steel is stronger. Which is a better advantage off-road? I'll be running Staun internal beadlocks so a second valve stem hole will have to be drilled. Don't know if that makes a difference.

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I don't know about everyone else but my experience with aluminum wheels is that they look great and perform excellent on road but off road is another story. When your off road and your wheel contacts a rock or something there is a chance that the aluminum can chunk out or crack unlike steel that would just bend most of the time. It would still take a hell of a hit to do damage to either types of wheels. Maybe others feel differently but that my 2cents.
I went with steel because I got sick of seeing the little puffs of white smoke every time you skived your expensive aluminum rim off a rock. Like others have said aluminum looks great but for wheeling steel is better. Very easy to touch up w/ a rattlecan and if you bend a rim you can always straighten it out. Mine are 15x8 beadlocks w/38.5x 14.50 TSL SX's. Mike
wow, what the hell are you guys doing to your wheels!?!?!

i finally split a set of wagon wheels, they just flexed out. went over to new aluminums, $80 vs. $50 or so for new steelies, and i wont go back! aluminums reduce so much rolling resistance. i got better mileage and better seat of the pants response... granted, i put 15K miles on my truck each year, so those who just wheel them wont notice the difference...
I agree w/ Stumpy. I wheel the snot out of my alum wheels, never had a problem. Lighter, look better. I guess if I ding or crack one (haven't yet), I carry spare anyway. I run 35 x 12.5 Wild Countries
If you are going to be pounding rocks, go steel.

Further, who makes an aluminum wheel with a 2” or 2.5” BS?
there are two types of alum wheels cast- cheap and forged $$$$ cast will bend but usually break when trying to bend back. forged you will be able to bend back. but you can't beat a black steal wheel
i have yet to bend an aluminum one. pound for pound, aluminums are MUCH stronger than steel.

my aluminums are a 3.75" (maybe 3.5") backspacing. 2, 2.5, now that would be a challenge...
Lighter wheel, less inertia to overcome to get it to turn and less power needed to keep it turning.

My experience with aluminum wheels has been restricted to cars. Way back when I had a some big for the time (17" anteras) rims, I kept bending them going 80mph on the freeway, due to pot holes left from CalTrans. The third one I bent couldn't be straightened well and cracked. When I swapped to cheesy steelies, the acceleration difference was very noticable and it even took about 10mph off my top speed, but this may have also been from using low profile tires. Most of the difference was from weight.

For one of my cruisers I am going to buy aluminum rims, but the thing is going to be a street queen. Off road, it is all about the steel. You'll know what I mean when you are sitting on the trail banging your rim straight with a rock. However, there are some very nice aluminum offerings seen on competition rigs but those don't come from 4 wheel parts.
So (yes, I'm new at this) where can I buy steel wheels?

I want wheels that function - I don't care how they look.

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