Steel wheels come stock on many vehicles because they’re inexpensive and easy to produce. Steel wheels are great for keeping new car costs down for the buyer. But in daily driving, off-road, and performance driving, they are not ideal. For these purposes, alloy wheels are better. Here are three reasons why:
1. Better Braking Performance
A lot of off-road and performance enthusiasts get alloy wheels to improve their vehicle’s stopping power. Since off-road and performance driving requires a lot of braking, stopping power is quite important.
Steel wheels don’t dissipate heat too well, so they’re not ideal for performance or off-road driving. When heat isn’t dissipated well, the brakes have a higher chance of overheating. When your brakes overheat, they don’t function as well. This results in a longer stopping distance.
A good set of alloy wheels solves this problem. Alloy dissipates heat much better, so alloy wheels help keep your brakes cool. In addition to slowing the mass of your car, brakes also have to slow the rotating inertia of your wheels. Lighter alloy wheels have less inertia than steel wheels, so they are easier to slow. Both of these factors improve your braking performance.
2. Improved Handling
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An ideal performance or off-road vehicle has minimal unsprung weight. Since the weight of wheels isn't supported by the suspension, it contributes to your Toyota’s unsprung weight. The more unsprung weight your vehicle has, the harder it is for the suspension to control. Heavy wheels make your ride worse and degrade the handling of your vehicle.
Steel wheels do just fine off-road at lower speeds. But if you drive on the highway to the trail, you'll really notice the ride and handling benefits of lighter wheels. And, if you're thinking about moving to bigger tires, alloy wheels help offset some of the weight gains from the bigger tires. Last, but not least, alloy wheels help improve rigidity under high-load cornering maneuvers.
3. Better Gas Mileage
Because alloy wheels are lighter than steel wheels, it doesn’t require as much gas pedal to get your car moving and keep it moving. This keeps fuel consumption down, and the savings can offset the cost of the wheels over a year or two. (More tips for improving gas mileage.)
Not All Alloy Wheels Are Created Equal
We’ve established that alloy wheels make a world of difference in performance and off-road driving. Now let’s talk about why you should be picky while looking for a set of alloy wheels.
Aftermarket manufacturers tend to cut costs by producing their alloy wheels with inferior quality aluminum and a universal design. For example:
- Many aftermarket rims are "lug centric" rather than "bore centric". All TRD rims are bore-centric because they are easier to mount so that they are precisely centered on the hub. The bore (center hole in the wheel) fits the hub flange exactly. Lug-centric rims have a bore that is larger so that the wheel can fit on most brands of vehicles. Lug-centric rims are harder to get exactly centered on the hub. If they are just a little bit off, you will feel the vibration on the highway.
- TRD rims are light because Toyota is held accountable for the gas mileage of their vehicles by the government. This isn't true for aftermarket rims, and many of them are on the heavy side.
If you want a set of alloy wheels that will last a long time and is designed to deliver massive gains in performance, TRD alloy wheels are the way to go.
TRD, which stands for Toyota Racing Division, is Toyota’s very own line of high-end performance parts designed to fit Toyota vehicles and boost their performance. In that lineup, you’ll find a quality set of alloy wheels. (More about TRD wheels in this article.)
Take a look at our catalog of 100% genuine TRD parts at discounted prices to see if you can find a set of TRD alloy wheels for your Toyota model!