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What's stronger? Aluminum or steel rims?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by RockinChevy, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. RockinChevy

    RockinChevy 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Hey CK5 guys, I did a search before starting this thread... I searched and searched and found not one answer to my question that's burning in the back of my mind. So I am turning to the webwheelin' brothers here and see what you know. :confused:
    I have asked people around me and what has started a few days ago, is a heated dispute on rim strength, either aluminum or steel.... I'm getting sort of a 50/50 on both metals, but this is only from 9 people so far.....
    I'm getting crap like "aluminum is thicker and won't bend, steel is thin and will bend" or "steel is heavier but cheaper to replace, aluminum is lighter but pricey" :doah:

    Well, I have a 14BFF in the garage and dying to put in under my truck. I won't be able to do that soon since I don't have an 8 lug D60 to match.
    So I figure I could take the time to decide on which metal rims to buy.
    This truck is my DD and I want to do difficult trails and start doing some rocks after my spring and axle swaps and other upgrades. Oh yeah, I don't think it matters, but the rim size I want is 16x10 for some 37" SSRs or such.
    Money is no object, I just want the strongest sh!t they got out there..

    I'm working it towards a truggy so which metal will stand up to the hardcore abuse?

    Any input is welcome! Thanks guys!
     
  2. sope

    sope 1/2 ton status

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    Steel might bend but won't break. Steel rims are also cheap. I would't touch aluminum unless your just Muddin
     
  3. RockinChevy

    RockinChevy 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Yeah, steel is cool. I have aluminum 15x10s on my 10 bolts and they're scratched up from dirt, sand, mud and nicked by rocks but held up fine. They came with the truck at time of sale so I didn't really care much for them since I'm going 14Bolt.

    I also forgot to mention that I noticed in some of the extreme rockcrawling competitions, some went steel and others went aluminum... So I guess this is personal preference over strength????

    Hmmmm.........
     
  4. 1977k5

    1977k5 3/4 ton status Vendor

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    Aluminum should not even be a consideration for you. Steel wheels should be the only way to go (beadlocks?). Even if you don't go with beadlocks, welding a ring around the outside of the wheel will greatly benefit the wheels strength. The ring I am talking about kind of looks like the DIY weld on beadlocks but there is no bead lock. It just keeps the wheel from bending.
     
  5. resurrected_jimmy

    resurrected_jimmy 1/2 ton status

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    I BFH can fix a steel rim if you flatten one on a trail. Aluminum will break if you try to hammer a bead back out. As already stated unless un sprun weight is a concern for you and you need quick wheel speed stay with steel. I have owned one set of aluminum rims and I was not very happy with them. They were six lug and had the ability to expand and contract so much that they would stretch wheel studs.
     
  6. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    FORGED aluminum is very strong and would be a viable alternative to steel wheels..... not surprisingly, it is also the most EXPENSIVE type of wheel you can buy.

    Forged aluminum wheels can be repaired, where cast aluminum wheels are the ones people associate with cracking and being unrepairable.

    A super-light aluminum wheel would be nice, but most of us are wrapping it in a VERY heavy tire....so the weight savings isn't as meaningful as it would be in a race car application.
     
  7. 73k5blazer

    73k5blazer Unplug the matrix cable from the back of your head Premium Member

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    Gerg72 is right.
    Forged Alum. is extremely strong. The H2 wheels, and the alum. wheels that come on newer chevy 2500HD,350 trucks are forged.
     
  8. resurrected_jimmy

    resurrected_jimmy 1/2 ton status

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    Thanks for pointing out that there are two very different processes for manufacturing an aluminum wheel. Now to play devil's advocate. Can anyone answer this: If two wheels were the same pattern and size, one steel and one forged aluminum, which would be stronger forged aluminum or steel? How much lighter would the aluminum wheel be to equal the same strength as the steel wheel?
     
  9. ct85k10

    ct85k10 1/2 ton status

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  10. 6.2Blazer

    6.2Blazer 1/2 ton status

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    Asking whether steel or aluminum is way too broad of a question. As already mentioned there are quite a bit of differences between different aluminum rims. The same can be said about steel rims.....some are thicker, some have a little different design, some are different types of steel material.....so the strength between different wheels can vary quite a bit.

    In general steel is cheaper than any aluminum rim (and a LOT cheaper than a high level aluminum rim) , and probably why a lot of people go that route. As also mentioned you can usually hammer out a steel rim if you bend it enough to lose air on the trail while you can not do that on most cheaper types of aluminum.

    You do get some benefits from the a lighter aluminum rim, but also as mentioned these benefits are pretty small when you are running heavy tires and generally going really slow on the trail. If it was a fast desert truck than aluminum would be the way to go.
     
  11. RockinChevy

    RockinChevy 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Thanks for the input guys! I wasn't aware of forged aluminum. I guess since difficult trail use and rock crawling is my route, then steel it is.... Not sure if I will be putting on beadlocks since they're not street legal, but will consider weld-on rings.
    I'm gonna do more research beforehand since I don't want to deal with going ass backwards for another set of rims. Don't worry guys, I am taking your input seriously and weighing in the factors.
     
  12. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

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    Another mfg method of aluminum wheels not yet touched on are those that are spun like Centerlines and some Welds. Those are going to be close to the strength of a forging, though probably not an exact equal. They were "bent" into the shape they are. Stands to reason that they can be straightened too. In the desert racing area there are a couple business' that do exactly that, straighten Centerline type wheels.

    As to beadlocks not being street legal, I've never seen conclusive proof of this. I do know that they probably should be subject to DOT compliance testing and few if any have done that. So they may not be legal b/c of omission, but they are not legal by design or some other factor.
     
  13. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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  14. DesertDueler2

    DesertDueler2 1/2 ton status

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    Centerline had the same problem with their 5 spke rims. They are really light, and are really only meant on a drag car. I run the weld draglites on my race car. A little heavier, but much stronger. These wheels dont take a side load well. The same with bogart wheels. You can stand the car up on the bumper and come back down, and have no problem, but you can bend one installing a tire.Dan
     
  15. AZ79K5Project

    AZ79K5Project 1/2 ton status

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    I've done this down in Rocky Point years ago. I was driving on the beach and launched over a small dip. I hit rock with aired down tires and blew both left side beads. Taco'd front and severly bent the rear. BFH on the rear bent wheel and reseated it.

    Aluminum looks great for street rides.
     
  16. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    another thing to consider is your future with respect to beadlocks. You say you wanna do rocks... prolly just a matter of time before you want 'locks. I'm not an expert, but it seems like a lot of crawlers run cast aluminum rims that have been modded to use beadlocks (like Champions etc). The weak part of a cast rim is pretty much just the outter lip... the beadlock ring reinforces that area so its pretty much a non-issue.

    when my current tires go bald and I step up to 42s, I'll prolly use a cast aluminum locked 17" rim.

    j
     
  17. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

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    So do I. Those are a classic failure. Aluminum fatigue limit combined with the stress riser formed by the outer ends of that star shaped insert. Very, very predictable failure point & mode. He should have ditched all of them when the first one went away.

    Until now I'd been thinking only about bead area problems and not problems with the centers breaking out. :doah:
     

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