Aftermarket wheels: How to choose and install them for your truck

Here's the perfect method to get the right set of wheels for your truck.
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Created: 9/21/2022
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Source: American TrucksN/A

Did you know aftermarket wheels may transform the appearance of your truck and may even improve its performance? Although ensuring a bold, fresh look is great on its own, a good set of wheels can provide much more. And with so many options for drivers to choose from, finding the perfect ones shouldn’t be hard.

Still, there are several important factors to consider when selecting potential truck wheels to ensure they fit. This article will explain what to look for when choosing between different wheels and give you several useful tips. Not only will this make your truck look better, but it will also improve its ride and handling.

How will my truck look with them?

When choosing aftermarket wheels for their truck, most drivers will focus on the design and overall look. And because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, giving any advice on this is almost impossible. Still, there are several things to consider, and the way the wheels will look on the car is definitely one of them.

With trucks being so popular, there is always a chance of finding a photo on the internet that features an appropriate combination. This can be anything from Instagram or Facebook to different automotive forums. Another option comes as one of many online wheel configurations that are available on many specialized sites. By selecting the year and color of the car, these applications will render an image of it with wheels fitted on.

Almost all truck aftermarket wheels on the market today are alloys, using either aluminum or magnesium as a base material. Most of them are available in several finishes, which will affect their appearance and the level of care they require.

Traditional alloys have a layer of clear coat, or paint, and come in two different variants. The gloss finish will give a smooth and shiny appearance, while matte is more subtle and may require less care.

Chrome wheels will give any truck a sophisticated and classy look, although these are more demanding in terms of cleaning. Polished or machined wheels are similar, as they feature a bare aluminum alloy with no coats of paint on them.

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What size to choose?

Aftermarket wheels: How to choose and install them for your truck
Source: American Trucks

Depending on the year and trim level, trucks have wheels that range from 16 to 20+ inches as standard. When buying aftermarket wheels, most owners will choose those that are one or more sizes bigger in diameter. While this gives the car a more aggressive look, it is important to get an appropriate set of tires. Although the size of the rim itself may change, the outer diameter of the wheel should remain the same.

As a result, bigger wheels will have tires with a lower sidewall profile. The easiest way of solving this is by checking for the approved tire dimension in the owner’s handbook. Besides the diameter, most aftermarket wheels are available in several widths, which affects the tire selection.

It is essential to make sure the wheels will fit the truck, which is where bolt pattern and offset come into play. The bolt pattern is a numerical value that shows the number of lugs and the diameter in which they align on the hub. Some aftermarket wheels have a larger center bore than the OEM ones, but spacer rings will eliminate that gap.

The geometry itself is also quite important, as this determines how the wheel will sit against the body side. One thing that plays the most significant role here is the offset. This is the distance between the hub and wheel centerline, with those that are more outwards having lower and negative values.

How will they affect the ride and performance?

Besides the changes to the outer appearance, aftermarket wheels may also affect the performance and ride characteristics of the car. For a start, bigger wheels usually have low-profile tires whose side wall is not as tall as their meaty counterparts. This results in less flex when driving, which improves both steering response and handling capabilities.

However, this may also result in a harsher ride, making the truck less comfortable and resilient to pot-hole damage. Similar to that, wider wheels and corresponding tires will improve traction, as more contact surface ensures a better grip. However, an increased rolling resistance that comes with wider tires will affect the fuel consumption and firm up the steering.

In the end, there is a question of weight, which is something that many drivers overlook when selecting wheels. Heavier wheels are sturdy, although the excess weight will increase the loads and subsequent suspension components' wear. Not only do lighter wheels eliminate this downside, but they also allow better accelerations and improve fuel consumption.

However, with less material in them, these wheels may bend easier when going over bumps and potholes. If looking for something that combines the best of both worlds, forged alloys are the way to go. These offer less weight and sturdy construction, thanks to their unique structure.

Conclusion

Trucks are extremely popular, which ensures that owners have a wide range of aftermarket wheels to choose from. However, selecting the right set involves finding a balance between the design, finish, and wheel size. Owners who focus on style and appearance might like the sleek and classy chrome wheels. Painted alloys are an excellent option for everyday usage, as keeping them clean is much easier.

And sporty drivers might benefit from the lightweight forged wheels, which help improve overall performance. No matter which wheels you choose, make sure their geometry and bolt pattern are suitable for your truck.

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