OEM Vs. Aftermarket Wheels: What You Need to Know

Whether replacing one damaged alloy wheel or picking up a set of steel wheels for winter, today’s consumer has essentially two wheel replacement options: OEM Replica or Aftermarket Wheels.

OEM wheels are made by the original equipment manufacturer and are exact replicas of the wheel that came with your car. Aftermarket Wheels are made by independent manufacturers and made to fit multiple vehicles. Any wheel that is not a genuinely made by the original manufacturer is considered to be an aftermarket wheel.

Wheel Fitment and Vehicle Ride

OEM Wheels are made by your vehicle’s manufacturer and are guaranteed to exactly match the same specifications as the wheels that came on your vehicle the day it rolled off the assembly line. OEM replica wheels will fit your tires and vehicle’s hub bearings perfectly. The fitment and compatibility of OEM replica wheels provide a better ride for your vehicle than Aftermarket wheels.

spinner-rimSince aftermarket wheels are made to fit many different vehicles, they will likely not match the exact specifications needed to fit your vehicle. This can result in a fitment issue when you install an aftermarket wheel on your vehicle.

Furthermore, even the slightest difference in size can affect the quality of your ride. This is especially true when adding wheels that are larger than the original manufacturer’s size. These will thin your tires, make you susceptible to a bumpier ride, and can more easily crack your wheel.

Availability of OEM Wheels Vs. Aftermarket Wheels

Manufacturers constantly discontinue their aftermarket wheels in hopes of selling new and different wheels to vehicle owners. While having more options is great, the drawback comes when you attempt to replace your aftermarket wheel.

Let’s say you buy a new set of aftermarket wheels and then hit a pothole on the road bending one of your wheels. Aftermarket Wheel Outward Facing SideThe aftermarket wheel that you go to replace will likely be discontinued by the manufacturer, even if only a few years old.

With the cease in production, you will rarely if at all find these wheels available on the market in new or excellent condition. If you do happen to find the same wheel, the chances are the price will have increased due to the rarity of the aftermarket wheel. Your only other option includes starting over with a new set of wheels.

On the contrary, OEM Wheels are much easier to replace. Instead of buying a new set of Aftermarket wheels, you can buy just one OEM wheel that is exactly the same as the original wheel you are replacing. Since OEM wheels will match the others in your set, you have the option to buy a single new OEM wheel, used OEM wheel, or replica OEM wheel. This will keep your vehicle structurally sound on the road and help you save in the long run.

Price & Quality of OEM Wheels Vs. Aftermarket Wheels

OEM Wheel Backside Attaches to CarAn advantage that Aftermarket wheels have over OEM wheels is the price. Since one aftermarket wheel can fit a variety of different vehicles, they can be sold to a larger audience at a cheaper price.

At what cost though? Aftermarket wheels are often made with cheaper materials for mass production. This leads to a far less quality product compared to OEM or replica wheels. Time and time again, aftermarket wheels have proven to be structurally inferior to their OEM wheel counterparts.

This is especially true for those driving in places with heavy snow. The durability and strength of your wheel will be particularly tested during the Winter months.

Safety & Quality of OEM Wheels Vs. Aftermarket Wheels

Most aftermarket wheels are manufactured overseas and do not have to worry about matching the same safety or performance specs that OEM wheels must comply with. Driving with an under-spec wheel can be dangerous.

Automakers design the wheel based on many factors specific to the car itself including how much it weighs, how it handles, and other important factors. Aftermarket wheel manufacturers are primarily concerned with creating a wheel that looks as close to the OEM version as possible. They are not nearly as concerned with its performance, durability, or safety.

Aftermarket Wheel BacksideOppositely, OEM alloy wheels are typically forged with cast aluminum fortified with other metals to add strength. Many aftermarket wheel makers are often not willing to spend the money it takes to
create a wheel as strong and durable as the OEM equivalent since the turnaround for aftermarket wheels is so high.

OEM wheel manufacturers take the performance and handling of your car into consideration and offer a variety of OEM wheels that will fit your car without sacrificing your safety or performance. Throwing aftermarket wheels on a vehicle that they were not designed for is not only unsafe, but it can also prematurely wear out other important parts of your vehicle including your suspension and brakes. Even if no one gets hurt, poorly engineered aftermarket wheels can do some serious damage to your car.

Why You Should Choose an OEM Wheel Replacement

The biggest con of buying OEM wheels is the price, which is less affordable than aftermarket wheels comparatively.  However, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and they can help you save down the road on replacements.

OEM Wheel Outward FacingWe are almost as adamant against buying OEM wheels from the dealership as we are buying aftermarket wheels! Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions offers genuine OEM wheels, OEM hubcaps, and OEM Center Caps at a fraction of the price you will pay at the dealership. Many of our OEM wheels are actually more affordable than some of the aftermarket wheels you see online.

Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions gives you the ability to save on quality discounted OEM wheels. You will have the peace of mind knowing you replaced your wheels with an identical wheel that meets the same specifications set by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Remember, your wheels and tires are the one point of contact between your vehicle and the road. While it may make sense to cut corners on some of the products in our lives, your vehicle’s wheels are not one of them.

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