The Difference Between Alloy Wheels Vs Premium Wheels (With Pictures)


As a car owner, you have an endless list of upgrades you can purchase for your vehicle. One specific area with many options is the wheels you put on your car. For example, you’ll find that you can buy alloy and premium wheels. But what’s the difference between those two?

Alloy wheels are made from a blend of aluminum and metals like nickel or magnesium. Meanwhile, manufacturers use the term ‘premium’ to represent wheels with unique benefits. So, for example, you can find premium wheels made from lightweight materials or more prominent and heavier ones with a more luxurious design.

This article will help you understand what alloy and premium wheels are, as well as the differences that exist between both. By the end, you’ll be able to decide which is best suited for your needs.

What’s A Premium Wheel?

Alloy wheels are pretty straightforward because it’s all in the name. They are wheels made from a magnesium or aluminum alloy.

However, the first thing you must understand about premium wheels is that there is no fixed definition for what a ‘premium’ wheel actually is. Furthermore, unlike alloy wheels, the word ‘premium’ does not specify what materials the wheels are made of.

Instead, manufacturers use the term ‘premium’ to signify that a particular wheel has qualities that offer added value compared to normal ones. Doing so also helps them justify the more expensive price tag they place on those wheels.

However, a wheel manufacturer would put the premium label on their wheel products for many different reasons, such as the following:

  • Better design: Some wheels are considered premium models because of their intricate designs and exotic finishes. For example, some premium wheels on the market are alloy wheels coated in chrome. These improve the vehicle’s overall aesthetics making it appear more luxurious.
  • Higher-quality materials: Manufacturers also tend to produce premium wheels consisting of higher-quality materials, like carbon fiber. These materials offer plenty of advantages buyers want, including added durability but at a lower weight.
  • Superior performance: With better design, materials, and manufacturing, some premium wheels also offer performance benefits to the vehicle that uses them. That’s one reason premium wheels can demand incredibly high prices and still find buyers.

Overall, calling a set of wheels ‘premium’ means that they’re somehow better than your average alloy or steel wheels. They can be better in terms of how they look, what they’re made of, how they’re made, or the kind of performance improvements they can offer.

Sometimes, you may get a combination of all those benefits in the same set of premium wheels.

Read: Does Changing Tires Affect Wheel Alignment?

What Is The Difference Between Premium And Alloy Wheels?

Alloy wheels are considered superior to steel wheels, just as premium ones are superior to them. But what sets them apart?

Here are the 5 significant differences between premium and alloy wheels:

1. Cost

The first and most apparent difference between premium and alloy wheels is the costs involved. That includes the initial purchase and any possible repairs or replacements throughout their lifespans.

Of the two, alloy wheels are the ones that are much more affordable. They offer a healthy balance between weight, durability, and affordability, which is also why they’re the most common wheel type on the road.

Premium wheels cost significantly more. That’s because they offer some added value, whether in terms of their appearance, the materials they’re made of, or the performance improvements they provide.

Unfortunately, that also means repairing or replacing a damaged premium wheel costs more. 

Read: Symptoms & Causes of a Bad Wheel Alignment

2. Aesthetics

Premium wheels are also better than alloys when it comes to their aesthetics. For starters, premium wheels typically have better designs that make them appear higher-end than alloy ones.

Besides that, manufacturers also coat premium wheels with chrome and other materials to make them lift the vehicle’s overall luxurious look and feel.

While it’s possible to find flashier-looking alloy wheels, most are typically generic in their appearance. After all, they’re designed to appeal to a broader market segment than niche markets that prefer premium wheels.

Read: 3 Reasons Why Steering Wheel Can be Loose – What To Check?

3. Weight

Here’s where the differences between alloy and premium wheels get interesting. People often assume that premium wheels are lighter thanks to the unique blend of materials used to make them.

In many cases, they’re right. For example, premium wheels are often lighter thanks to materials like carbon fiber, and reduced weight improves acceleration and braking.

However, you’ll also find premium wheels that are larger and heavier. Those kinds of premium wheels are less about performance advantages and more about luxury and durability.

Read: Dealing With Wheel Corrosion

4. Backspacing and Offsetting

From a much more technical perspective, alloy wheels also come with a lower offset than premium models. In other words, the wheels are positioned much closer to the car’s centerline.

Meanwhile, premium wheels are positioned further away from the car’s centerline. That protects them from certain kinds of damage, like reducing the chances of deformity from hitting a curb.

5. Durability

Another interesting difference between alloy and premium wheels is their durability. Some premium wheels are more durable than alloy ones. They can withstand more damage, whether from a pothole, curb, or any other solid object.

But that’s not always true. For example, premium wheels that are lighter and offer better performance benefits tend not to be as durable as alloy wheels. Instead, they wear out or suffer damage more easily.

As you can see, there are tradeoffs even among premium wheels. For instance, better durability means fewer performance advantages and vice versa.

Read: What Is Average Wheel Alignment Cost?

Are Alloy Or Premium Wheels Better?

So, should you buy alloy or premium wheels? Well, the answer isn’t so straightforward. It all boils down to what your unique needs and wants are

As you read earlier, premium wheels are costlier but come with added value in aesthetics, build, performance, or a combination of all three. So, you should only invest in premium wheels if you want one or more of those specific advantages.

For example, if you drive competitively and need the lightest wheels possible to maximize your speed, premium wheels made of lightweight materials would be best for you. 

On the other hand, suppose you drive a luxury vehicle and want more luxurious wheels to go along with them. In that case, you can invest in chrome-plated wheels that are larger than standard ones.

Still, it’s important to remember that not everyone needs premium wheels. For instance, if you’re looking for a high-quality all-rounder wheel with strengths in all areas, you can stick to alloy wheels instead.

Plenty of well-designed and durable alloy wheels on the market will serve you well. Plus, those wheels will likely cost less than a set of premium ones.

Final Thoughts

Remember that the term ‘premium’ is used by wheel manufacturers in many different ways. Generally, though, they use the term to mean that the wheel has some added value to offer, whether in terms of appearance, material, or performance advantages.

Premium wheels are well worth the investment if you want one of those specific advantages for your vehicle. For example, a luxury vehicle will look even better with intricately designed premium wheels. However, don’t rule out alloy wheels, either. Alloy wheels are excellent in design, durability, and performance advantages. They’re also much more affordable than premium models.

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