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Alloy Wheels Explained

Alloy Wheels Explained

Steve Shields

Steve Shields

  • 22 May, 2019
  • 3 min read

Alloy wheels have become the norm on the vast majority of modern cars, with steel wheels typically available on base and/or lower spec trims. Whilst alloy wheels come with many striking designs, they also come in varying sizes, most common being 15, 16 and 17 inch, but which size should you go for? Larger alloy wheels (17 inch and above) have become increasingly desirable and are available on a large number of cars either as an optional extra or as part of a trim or package. Read on for the pros and cons of choosing a car with larger alloy wheels.

Advantages of larger alloy wheels

Aside from being very stylish, larger alloys tend to fill the wheel arches better and are more in proportion with the rest of the body. This makes the car more desirable and you’ll get a bit more when you come to sell it.

Larger alloys are also better for handling. If a car has smaller alloys, the rubber in the tyres bend under the weight of the car as it turns. As a result of this, the response from the steering wheel dampens and causes the wheels to lose grip sooner.

Tyres for larger alloys are thinner than those for small alloys, so they don’t tend to lose shape during cornering. This means that the tyre surface maintains more contact with the road, and improves grip.

And the disadvantages?

Choosing to upgrade your alloys when buying a brand new car can significantly increase the price tag. In the used car market,the difference isn’t so great, but is still noticeably more than the equivalent model with smaller alloys.

You’d also need to consider the cost when you purchase new tyres. It may not come a surprise that the larger the alloy, the more expensive the tyre, though you may be surprised at how reasonable they can be.

The Vauxhall GTC is available with up to 20-inch alloy wheels. Tyres for the largest size can cost as little as £138 or as much as £240

Most online tyre retailers enable you to find the correct tyres for your car just by entering the car’s registration number. However, if the alloys aren’t standard, you may have to enter the tyre dimensions manually. Click here to find out more in our tyre guide.

Many of us have had the odd scrape on a kerb or failed to dodge a pothole. Such incidents, more often than not, can cause significant cosmetic damage to alloy wheels, larger ones especially. What’s more, you may find that larger alloys are more expensive to repair. You can actually buy alloy wheel protectors that line the edge of the alloy to help prevent pothole damage.

What size alloy wheels should you go for?

This all depends on your preference and the level of specification of your desired car. Many high-spec cars on the used market will come with larger wheels as standard, compared to lower-spec models, so you may have to compromise if alloy wheels are low on your priority list of features. After all, you could always swap the alloys after you buy to your preference.

Will choosing a car with larger alloy wheels affect your insurance premium?

Providing the alloy wheels are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) - that is, original parts by the vehicle’s manufacturer – your premium won’t be affected. Of course, higher spec cars do typically carry a higher insurance premium than their lower spec counterparts, regardless of alloy wheel size. If you upgrade your alloys after purchase, this must be declared to your insurance company as it would be classed as a modification.

Steve Shields


Steve Shields

Social Media Executive for CarShop