Are OEM Wheels and OEM Rims the same thing?

Working in the OEM wheel industry makes us the go-to source for wheel information from our friends and family outside of work. It’s not uncommon for any one of our employees to be approached by a friend or family member at a party or other social gathering and asked a question about wheels, rims, hubcaps – or even just general car related questions. And we don’t mind at all – we’re passionate about OEM wheel products and that passion doesn’t punch a time clock. While we might only work 40 hours per week, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk about wheels off the clock! After all, they say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. One of our most frequently asked questions is about the difference between wheels and rims. Keep reading for the answer!

To understand the difference between OEM wheels and OEM rims, let’s take these terms apart a little bit. First of all, if you don’t understand what OEM means then you’re likely to be even more confused.

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This is a term that it used throughout many industries and is used especially often in the automotive industry. When people are poised with the prospect of replacing parts on their automobiles, they typically have two choices: OEM and aftermarket. An OEM replacement part is identical in all ways to the part being replaced. The “equipment” is made by the “original manufacturer”. These products are seen as the best replacement for those looking for an identical replacement. Aftermarket products are sometimes cheap knockoffs of an auto part or sometimes more expensive, high-performance products. We specialize in selling OEM wheels, meaning all of our wheel products are identical to the original and made by the exact same manufacturer. In other words, these are the same products you’d by at your dealer but offered at a fraction of the price.

So now that we understand what exactly OEM means, let’s talk about the difference between “wheels” and “rims”. This gets a bit complicated, because colloquially these terms are used interchangeably.

Technically, a wheel’s rim is the part of the wheel that you can see when a tire has been mounted to it. It is the rim that helps to keep the tire sealed to the wheel so that air does not escape. So technically, a rim is not the same as a wheel, but a rim is just a specific part of the wheel.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, many people simply use the term “rims” to mean the entire wheel. Although this is a bit of a misnomer, it’s become so common that you might as well get used to it.

We’ve noticed that people referring to alloy wheels as alloy rims is much more common than their steel wheel counterparts. You may still hear people refer to a steel wheel as a steel rim, but not as frequently as you do with alloys. Part of the reason for this is at that “rims” are usually thought of as fancy wheels and there is an entire industry devoted to those looking to upgrade their car with fancy aftermarket or upgraded OEM alloy rims.

We hope we’ve helped make this a little bit more clear. Just remember, while technically a rim is only part of the wheel, these terms are usually used interchangeably. The same goes for OEM wheels and OEM rims. While technically an OEM rim is simply the “rim” part of the OEM wheel, the terms are used interchangeably. In other words, if you buy an OEM rim, the rest of the wheel will obviously be included.

Blackburn offers the largest inventory of OEM wheel products in the USA, offering a variety of wheel products including OEM hubcaps and OEM Wheels. We also buy OEM Wheels. Create a free My WheelFinder account to browse our entire inventory of OEM Wheel products and save!

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