Steelies – What is it? Pros & Cons

You've probably heard of "steelies" before, but what are they and what are the pros and cons of using them instead of alloys? Let's find out.

What Are Steelies

If you have been looking to get a new set of wheels for your vehicle, you might be enamored by all of the options in front of you. After all, there are some amazing aftermarket options out there that will truly elevate your ride.

However, sometimes it’s the simple design that wins out in the end, such as the steelies. What are steelies and why should you consider these wheels?

In this guide, we evaluate what makes steel wheels so popular. We also look at the main differences between steelies and other wheels. At the end of the article, you will find approximate prices for several different types of wheels. 

What are Steelies?

Steelies is a nickname to describe steel wheels. Most steel wheels come with covers or hubcaps on top. They just don’t get more basic than that. These wheels are created from billets of steel that are pressed with hydraulic machinery. 

The cheapest wheels on the market are steel with alloy following close behind. Additionally, the steelies are popular and can be found on a variety of vehicles.

Pros of Steelies

1. Low-Cost

It doesn’t cost as much to produce steel wheels as some others. They are cheap to create and can be covered with a simple set of hubcaps or wheel covers. 

The steel wheel has been standard on all budget vehicles for many years. You will see it as the standard equipment on many of the budget-friendly cars. 

2. Rugged

Steel is constructed from carbon and iron, making it harder than most other designs. In fact, steel wheels are often used for winter travel, mainly because of how durable they are.

You will often find steelies on off-road vehicles for this reason. Additionally, if the steel wheels are damaged during these off-road activities, they are cheaper to replace. 

Cons of Steelies

1. Heavier

With increased durability and strength comes more weight. When compared apples to apples with aluminum, the steel wheel is going to weigh much more. 

The added unsprung weight of steel wheels can increase difficulty with handling. You might notice some differences when taking tight turns or trying to maneuver. 

2. Lack of Design

There’s not a lot of flexibility in steel wheel design. You aren’t going to find a range of options because of how the steel wheel is produced. In fact, the only designs that can be made with the steel wheel are to put holes in the face, which also help with brake cooling.

Additionally, it’s hard to find steel wheels in a range of sizes. You won’t be able to get many steel wheels in the larger diameters. Still, it’s possible to put hubcaps on the wheel or paint the metal to make it look better. Just be careful because if you don’t paint the wheels the right way, rust could form. 

RELATED: How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car?

Steelies vs. Alloys

Alloy wheels have some aluminum in the construction, making them more fashionable. Additionally, alloy wheels are lighter because of the metal concoction. What you are left with is more agility and better handling. Plus, alloy wheels are available in a much wider range of sizes, even some that are 20 inches. 

The steel wheel is going to be heavier and won’t look as nice. However, these wheels will likely be cheaper and geared more toward the budget-minded consumer.

Steelies vs. Chrome

The chrome wheel might look the best of all three, with a mirror-like shine. There’s certainly something to say about the head-turning ability of sleek chrome wheels. However, it’s not just the style that chrome wheels offer, but also protection. Because the chrome sits on the wheel as a protective coating, there’s less chance of oxidation, thereby preventing the instance of rust.

Chrome wheels also offer a level of strength against off-roading, making them better than alloy wheels, but maybe not as durable as steel. You can even find some chrome wheels that are lower-cost, making them more affordable than you might think.

However, chrome wheels can be difficult to keep in good condition. You must clean the wheels regularly to ensure that the finish doesn’t flake off. These wheels must be polished and you should avoid letting salt or brake dust sit on the surface. 

Additionally, chrome wheels can be heavy, which might reduce performance. The chrome wheel is created by adding multiple metal layers, such as copper and nickel, to the base material. Then, chrome plating is applied. With all of these layers in place, the chrome wheel can easily weigh the most. 

How Much Do Steel Wheels Cost?

If you need a replacement steel wheel, you might spend between $45 and $90, although the price varies widely based on the size you need. If you are adding a tire to the purchase, the price also jumps up accordingly. 

Alloy wheels can be slightly more expensive, but still quite reasonable. These prices start around $50 per wheel, so you can still get a set on a budget.

On the other hand, it’s easy to spend much more on a high-quality set of chrome wheels. While you can get the shiny look for as low as $100 per wheel, there are some designs that cost thousands. Aside from a stylish look, there’s not much more benefit to justify the cost of chrome wheels. Deciding what’s best for you requires that you examine the way you drive, your budget and your desires.

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