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Semi Truck Steel Wheels VS Aluminum Wheels (11 Super Facts!)

Have you ever wondered which is better, semi-truck steel or aluminum wheels? You must analyze your fleet’s demands and applications to answer this question.

With the growing popularity of aluminum wheels for commercial vehicles, truck enthusiasts debate whether to transition from steel to aluminum.

Here’s a quick answer to semi truck steel wheels vs. aluminum:

The main differences between semi truck steel wheels and aluminum wheels are that steel wheels are heavier, long-lasting, inexpensive, and simple to fix. It absorbs more shock and is more impact resistant. Semi-truck aluminum wheels, on the other hand, are lighter and more maneuverable.

What is the Weight of Semi Truck Steel Wheels vs. Aluminum?

Steel wheels typically weigh roughly 78 pounds, 30 pounds more than aluminum wheels. 

If your fleet isn’t traveling in a weight-sensitive operation, such as bulk hauling, the weight of steel wheels may not be as important.

Additional less-weight steel wheel choices are on the market, providing a cost-effective way to reduce weight. The vast weight difference is what entices fleets to convert to aluminum wheels.

Less weight at the wheel end enables more weight to be added in other locations while still under legal weight limitations.

These extra weight reductions might be helpful if your fleet runs in a weight-sensitive application, such as bulk haul fleets.

Aluminum wheels offer the weight advantage—having lighter-weight wheels implies higher load capacity, giving fleets the flexibility to raise the weight in other places while maintaining below legal restrictions.

Steel wheels often offer the advantage in strength and longevity and are hence the preferred choice for heavy-haul and severe-duty fleets.

Steel wheels are generally less expensive than aluminum wheels and require less aesthetic upkeep.

What is the Cost of Semi truck Steel Wheels vs. Aluminum?

Steel wheel’s costs range from $10 to $160 depending on units and brands, while aluminum wheel’s costs range from $110 to $130 per rim.

Steel wheels are standard on many new commercial vehicle types in North America. Steel wheels are often less expensive, costing three to four times as much as aluminum wheels. 

The most significant downside of aluminum wheels is their high price. 

Aluminum wheels maybe three times as expensive as steel wheels. The weight discrepancy between cargo and wheels might help some fleets recover the upcharge.

How do the Aesthetics of Semi Truck Steel Wheels vs. Aluminum Compare?

It’s no doubt that Aluminum wheels are more aesthetic than steel wheels. After all, it is more expensive – we deserve what we pay for.

Aluminum steel is lighter and more robust, making it safer to put cargo on. In terms of style, though, here’s how steel wheels and aluminum wheels differ from each other:

Aluminum wheels:

  • chrome
  • powder-coated
  • painted
  • machined and clear-coated
  • PVD
  • bare polished

Steel wheels:

  • painted
  • powder-coated and chrome
  • chrome-clad
  • custom coating

How does the Performance of Semi Truck Steel Wheels vs. Aluminum Compare?

Steel wheels are more resistant to impact fractures and impair acceleration, agility, and fuel economy despite their considerable weight. 

They are also more resistant to deicer, gravel, and brake dust damage, making them more appealing for winter driving.

Various industry-standard tests have shown that aluminum wheels can withstand more impact than steel wheels.

The point at which a steel wheel begins to distort is substantially lower and more likely to occur on the road than the one at which an aluminum wheel begins to deform.

What is the Longevity of Semi Truck Steel Wheels vs. Aluminum?

The general norm for aluminum is ten years, while steel is 15 to 20 years. However, like with any mechanical device, it is dependent on upkeep.

Steel rusts, making it impossible for the tire to seal on the rim over time. Giving new steel rims an extra coat of paint before putting them in service will help them last longer.

Are Aluminum Rims Stronger than Steel Rims?

Aluminum rims are firm but not as strong as steel rims. Generally, steel rims are more robust than aluminum rims. They are also durable and cost-effective.

Since steel rims are made of firm materials, cracking is less likely an issue, unlike aluminum rims.

Aluminum rims tend to crack and bend once impacted by the road. Their aesthetic is also vulnerable to cosmetic damage.

Steel rim is the best option for anyone looking for a semi truck in the winter or more power usage.

On the other hand, Aluminum rims are a good choice for cost, the balance of performance, gas mileage, and aesthetics.

Which is Less Costly to Repair, Steel Wheels or Aluminum?

Steel rims are inherently rough and durable, so cosmetic damage is rarely a concern.

This also makes repairing a bent steel wheel easier because there is no risk of harming the aesthetics. You may quickly convert your bent steel wheel back into the form using tools like a hammer.

Which is Easier to Clean and Maintain, Steel wheels or Aluminum?

Steel wheels have a reputation for being more challenging to maintain clean.

Steel wheels must be refinished as part of the fleet’s normal truck maintenance cycle, according to TMC RP 240A. Although keeping your steel wheels may appear time-consuming, there are advantages.

Many dealers utilize refinishing steel wheels following OSHA rules, providing them with a corrosion-resistant coating.

Maintaining your wheels will extend the life of your wheels and your investment. Fleets are drawn to the industry myth that aluminum wheels are effortless to maintain.

When acquired from the factory, aluminum wheels are corrosion resistant. Your aluminum wheels will require repair due to wear and driving conditions.

With the increased demand for aluminum wheels in the industry, there has been an emphasis on maintaining them properly.

Removing the wheel for cleaning and examination is critical to discover possible threats such as cracks, rim flange wear, and corrosion.

Maintaining your aluminum alloy wheels properly, just like steel wheels, is critical to extending the life of your wheels and your investment.

Which is Better For Hauling a Load, Steel Wheels or Aluminum?

Steel wheels often offer the advantage in strength and longevity and are hence the preferred choice for heavy-haul and severe-duty fleets. 

Steel wheels are generally less expensive than aluminum wheels and require less aesthetic upkeep than aluminum wheels.

Steel wheels are really suggested for vehicles in demanding activities such as forestry, mining, or tanker operations to counteract load-related difficulties like rim flange wear. 

When your truck’s rims are too small for its tires or wheels to be weighted down by an enormous, often moving load, abrasion from the tire chafer and sidewall causes this acute, pitted wear on the flange.

When a tire is removed from a wheel with rim flange wear, the sharp edges of the flange can chop slivers of rubber out of the tire bead, potentially resulting in sidewall separations and other severe problems.

When should you choose steel wheels for your semi-truck?

  • When you’re looking for what is affordable.

Steel wheels have two significant benefits over aluminum wheels: they are less expensive and last longer.

In terms of the latter, a steel wheel is nearly hard to break, which makes it a perfect alternative for cars traveling in more challenging situations.

  • When you’re aiming for less rust.

Steel wheels will not rust as long as their surface is painted. While steel wheels can dent or bend, these abnormalities are typically readily rectified by hammering the material back into form.

When should you choose aluminum wheels for your semi-truck?

  • When you’re aiming for performance plus stylish looks

Wheels are made to operate and perform well, but many people also consider them a stylish addition to a car.

If you belong to such a group, aluminum wheels are the way to go.

Most manufacturers have chosen to take this route with the models they build, as aluminum wheels have grown more popular than steel wheels nowadays.

  • When you want to have a wide range of sizes and styles

Aluminum wheels are fashionable since they come in a variety of styles.

They are also available in a variety of sizes and finishes. Combining their stylish character with their performance benefits gives you an appealing product.

  • When you’re looking for lighter-weight wheels

Aluminum wheels often outperform their steel counterparts due to their reduced weight. 

This lightweight product reduces pressure on a vehicle’s suspension, enables faster starting and stopping, and improves fuel efficiency.

  • When you’re into challenging trips

If you frequently drive in more challenging situations, aluminum wheels may be the best option.

They are better at dissipating heat from crucial car components such as the brakes.

  • When you’re not into rusted wheels

Aluminum wheels are entirely rust-proof. It does not rust because aluminum does not contain iron or carbon-like steel.

Aluminum and steel wheels may be used in any transportation application available.

As a result, determining which is best for your business is sometimes a very specialized choice. It is critical to assess it since both have advantages and disadvantages.