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How do I Choose the Best Used Rims?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

When choosing used rims or wheels for any vehicle, there are certain points to consider. The most important factor for selecting used rims is the bolt pattern size. There are many different bolt pattern sizes that are used on different vehicles, and they often differ even among the same vehicle model line. Wheel diameter and width are also factors to examine when choosing used rims. Many wheels are manufactured in two or more diameters as well as several widths in the same style of wheel and even in the same model year.

There are many times when the purchase of used rims is necessary, including restoration of a vehicle, replacement of a damaged original wheel and the simple desire for a particular wheel style. With the vast array of used rims available through online auctions, from salvage yards and at parts-swap meets, it is very important to check that the specifications of the potential rims match your requirements before making a purchase. Many uninformed buyers have brought home a set of used rims only to find that they will not fit the intended vehicle.

The best used rims may be purchased at a swap meet.
The best used rims may be purchased at a swap meet.

There are four key measurements that must be matched exactly whenever purchasing used rims. Bolt pattern, wheel diameter and width as well as wheel back spacing must be correct in order for the wheel to fit properly on the intended vehicle. The first, bolt pattern, refers to the placement of the bolt holes in the wheel. This also applies to the diameter of the center hole. In some cases, a wheel that will fit one vehicle will not fit another due simply to the size of the center hole being too small even though the stud hole spacing is the same.

The wheel diameter is also key in choosing the best used wheels. Most wheels manufactured by auto companies as well as after-market dealers have diameters that are measured in inches, with 14- and 15-inch (.35 and .38 m) wheels being the most common for vehicles made prior to the 2000 model year. Since then, it is not uncommon to find used rims as large as 22 inches (.56 m) that were offered on production vehicles. While a smaller wheel may fit a vehicle originally equipped with larger-diameter wheels, it is the brake package that often limits or prevents the swap to smaller and less expensive tire and wheel packages. Often, the brake caliper will not have enough clearance with a smaller diameter wheel.

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    • The best used rims may be purchased at a swap meet.
      By: JackF
      The best used rims may be purchased at a swap meet.