As you may know by now, there are essentially two types of wheels that come on a new car: OEM alloy wheels and OEM Steel wheels. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer and simply indicates that these are the wheels put on your auto by the manufacturer during the car’s build at the factory. If you’re buying a new car, 99% of the time it will come with OEM wheels unless you have made special arrangements with the dealer to have an aftermarket rim added instead. This makes it easy to know, of course you will be getting OEM wheels on your car if you buy it brand new. But if you’re buying a used car, how are you to know if you are getting OEM wheels or aftermarket wheels, and should that influence your buying decision?
If you’re buying a used car, it is absolutely important to know if it has the original OEM wheels (and their condition) or if the owner or previous owners have swapped them out with aftermarket wheels. There are many reasons why you would want to know this:
1. Aftermarket wheels are often of much lesser quality, offering lower performance and may potentially even be a safety hazard if they are poorly made aftermarket wheels. In our experience, the majority of aftermarket wheels are made poorly to save money and maximize profits for aftermarket wheel dealers. 2. Aftermarket wheels are often cheaper. There are some aftermarket wheels that are high end and actually high quality, however these are few and far between. Furthermore, if the car you are buying used has wheels that are more expensive than the OEM wheels, the seller will surely let you know to try and get more money out of you. You’ll want to know if they are aftermarket wheels because that can be a reason to offer less for the car, or consider not purchasing it altogether.
How To Tell If Your Used Car Has OEM or Aftermarket Wheels:
1. Visual Inspection – Find pictures of your car online and compare the wheels. Keep in mind that any Year, Make and Model of a car often has multiple OEM wheel options, so there could be a variety of OEM wheel styles that may have come with your vehicle.
2. Look for serial numbers and other identifying marks on the inside of the wheel. Compare these serial numbers with online forum resources or or auto parts store databases to see if your wheel serial number matches.
3. If you see “made in China”, don’t be alarmed. While many cheaply made aftermarket wheels may be made in China, plenty of high quality OEM wheels are also manufactured there. Just because a wheel is made in China doesn’t mean it is not OEM, and vice versa.
4. Compare the age of the car to the condition of the wheels. If you are buying a 15 year old car, but the wheels look brand new, you may want to inquire as to when and where the wheels were replaced. Ask the seller for receipts or other documentation or proof that the wheels are OEM. If they are not, you may want to consider getting a new set of OEM wheels and maybe even OEM hubcaps to spruce up your new (to you) ride! We also offer OEM wheels in used condition if you are looking to revert to OEM wheels on a budget! Sign up for a free wheel finder account for more information!