What’s the Difference Between Wheels and Rims?

Whats the Difference Between Wheels and Rims Audio City USA

Difference Between Wheels and Rims

People say, “cool rims, bro!” to each other. But, have you ever thought about the difference between wheels and rims? Ever wonder what their purpose is?

Americans love their cars. May they be young or old, cars are loved by all ages. You will always find a car that is meant for you. Some people with numerous cars would even try to pick a car according to an  event, their clothes, and even their mood for that day.

Around 1 in 4 Americans consider their vehicle to be “something special.” or treat it like they are members of the family, like a child that they take care of. It’s much more than merely “just a way to get around” for many people.

And yet, a surprising number of people do not know the difference between wheels and rims. Some people refer to a rim for a “wheel”. While others say wheels when they actually mean the “rim.” Let’s clear this issue out.

The confusion is understandable, but once we get a proper understanding of what each part is, we will no longer use a wrong term next time. For starters, they’re both in the same place as the vehicle.

However, they’re not the same, but both are very important parts that everyone should know. Both have advantages to your car. Check out the differences between wheels vs. rims below. Let’s go and dive deeper into each part, shall we?

What Is the Rim?

Essentially, the rim is part of the wheel.

The rim is normally on the outside of the wheel. It is located where the tire attaches to the wheel. Think of it as the frame or the base structure of the wheel.

Why do you need the rim? Well, without the rim, the tire would quickly lose air and your car would come to an abrupt stop. Therefore, could damage your car that might cause irreparable problems. 

Alternatively, the tire could suddenly loosen away from the wheel if the rim wasn’t in place. The rim supports the circular shape of the wheel. It keeps the tire intact while rotating as well.

However, this is more confusing since the word has been used to refer to wheels. This is not the proper use of the word. And yet, this is often used as a slang term for customized and fancy wheels

You can discover for yourself the kind of flashy, customized rims we’re talking about.

In particular, the word is used to refer to wheels made from chrome or alloy materials. It is also used when someone has brightly colored rims which capture attention, to be aesthetically attractive altogether with the car’s paint job.

However, put simply, it’s best to understand the rim as everything on the wheel apart from the nuts, bolts and the tire itself. 

What Is the Wheel?

“The wheels on the bus go round and round.” That’s what the children sing! Even children would be able to point out the wheel. It is one of the most obvious parts that we see in cars and other vehicles.

The wheel shouldn’t be confusing. It’s the rims which get people in a mess, therefore making it more complicated even though it shouldn’t be at all.

The wheel is one of the oldest, and one of the most important inventions of all time. And yet, people still get confused about the difference between a rim and a wheel. The wheels are usually made out of steel, alloy, and sometimes magnesium. Depending on your vehicle, you could choose from many variations.

The wheel refers to the part of the vehicle as a whole. This includes the tire, the rim, and the nuts and bolts which holds it all together as a complete unit. A car is not a car without its wheels, and it is one of the parts that is essential to your vehicle.

The wheel will not function properly when one component of the wheel is missing. Like the rims, it can further damage your vehicle when even a small part of the wheel is missing or misplaced.

Of course, without the wheels, the vehicle isn’t going anywhere. The rotation of the wheels allows the vehicle to move either forward or backward. Not only do they move the vehicle, but they also help carry heavy loads of your car, that is why there are different options in choosing a type of wheel with different purposes..

Wheels vs Rims

We have explained the differences between rims and wheels. Let’s recap, rims are the outer parts of the wheel that connect the tires to the wheel itself. On the other hand, the wheels consist of the rim, the nuts and bolts, and the tire. The wheels are what makes your car mobile. It may sound confusing to others, but once we get a proper understanding, we will no longer use a wrong term next time.

The rim and the wheels are not all the same, though.They have different sizes and designs, which makes your vehicle unique and for it to show its full performance and potential on the road. But, that’s for another discussion.

It’s best to consider the rim to be the part of the wheel which connects the tire together with the rest of the wheel, to avoid confusion especially when talking to your mechanic.

As car owners, we should know the difference between a wheel and a rim, to have a better understanding of what happens within our car, to make it easier for us and other people to understand whenever we would modify or customize them.

Now that you know the difference between wheels and rims, you will no longer keep adding to the confusion about the two different parts of cars. We can also share this information to other people as well to prevent them from having misunderstandings.

Do you need new tires for your car? Check out our blog post on how to spot the signs that your tires need to be replace

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people say rims instead of wheels?

Wheels and rims mean the same thing! They are words that can be used interchangeably. But some people refer to flashy-looking, gaily-painted or Chrome finishes as rims and not wheels. The origins of the mix-up are not clear, but they all mean the same thing. At times, decorative wheels are also referred to as rims, while aftermarket models can also be called rims. There is a theory that the music industry is to blame for 2 words meaning the same thing, but that is a subject open to debate!

How much do rims cost?

It depends on the model, size, type, variety and quality of the rims which you are purchasing. If you are buying a set of superb aftermarket rims, they will be very costly likely. There are cheaper variants available as well, including some which are used and which have been later restored for use. But if you want rough estimates, aluminum alloy, Bronze painted and Chrome-plated rims are the cheapest, coming for anything from $100 and $400 per wheel. For a set of mid-range rims, you will therefore have to pay around $1600 and onwards as the quality scale rises.

What is the difference between 16 and 17 inch wheels?

The difference is only in the diameter. Everything else is the same. 16-inch wheels are obviously smaller than the 17-inch variants. They will not fit the same vehicle similar to each other, and it might be dangerous to fit 17-inch wheels to a car that accepts only smaller rims. On the other hand, you cannot take the risk of downsizing a wheel and using a 16-inch model where a 17-inch model is recommended. All wheel manufacturers have these 2 sizes available, and you should always refer to the owner’s manual or to experts before you procure a set!

How long do wheel rims last?

Technically, rims should last forever! But in real-life, they do not for several reasons. Off the top, a decent set of wheel rims (though they mean the same thing and are interchangeable words) will last anywhere between 2000 and 10,000 miles. These are very loose values, as they depend on how well they have been maintained, whether they are new or used, the quality of the material used in their manufacture, whether they can absorb shock on the roads and can overcome potholes easily- and so on. It is best to take care of rims as recommended by experts.