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Do Aftermarket Wheels Have Any Drawbacks?

If you’re interested in buying a car, you may have run across a used vehicle with aftermarket wheels or rims. These wheels can often enhance a car’s appearance, adding more style and an improved look. But are there any drawbacks to aftermarket rims? We think there could be a few, so we’ve listed a few things you may want to consider before signing the papers on a used vehicle with aftermarket wheels.

Size Matters

When it comes to wheels or rims, size matters — and adding larger wheels could affect a vehicle in a number of ways. For example, wheels that are much larger than the car’s original set could have a negative effect on the transmission by causing it to work harder than normal in order to turn the axles and move the car. Eventually, this could cause premature transmission failure. Larger and heavier rims will also cause the engine to work harder, which could hamper fuel economy and dull acceleration. Larger, heavier wheels could also have a negative effect on other components of the vehicle, such as wheel bearings.

Ride Quality

Another issue that can be caused by aftermarket rims or wheels is poor ride quality. While original wheels are often designed to optimize ride quality, adding larger wheels usually means opting for thinner tires. The result of this is that a car’s ride quality often suffers. If the wheels are the same size as they were originally, this won’t be the case, but if you’re looking at a car where the driver has increased the wheel size, you’ll probably see some negative effects on how the vehicle rides and drives.

Track Use?

If you’re interested in buying a performance car and the driver has added “lightweight” wheels to save weight, you might want to ask about track use. A driver who is trying to save weight by getting lighter wheels has often used the vehicle in question on a race track, where all of a car’s components are subject to additional stress and wear. If you see lightweight wheels, it may be a red flag that the car has been tracked — and that means you may want to have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic to make sure there aren’t any hidden problems under the skin.

Resale Value

Aftermarket wheels could also affect a car’s resale value. Here’s how: While you may like the wheels, and the previous owner may like the wheels, others might not feel the same way. If you’re selling certain vehicles — especially high-end luxury models with very particular buyers — drivers may insist on original wheels when you go to sell the car. As a result, having aftermarket wheels could diminish your car’s resale value and increase the time it takes to sell the car.

Our Take

In general, buying a car with aftermarket wheels won’t be a problem. There are, however, a few drawbacks to aftermarket wheels that you might want to consider before signing the papers. We hope our list helps you understand some of these factors in order to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you choose a car with aftermarket rims or wheels.

Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. Any issues with towing? Interested in some same size rims (19″) for my 2015 X5 35d. Wondering if I should be concerned with a non-BMW rim regarding strength as we tow a 5500lb travel trailer.

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