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Second set of wheels

I’ve owned a 2004 Forester since February 2004, which came with all traction tires. Since 2007, I’ve put studless snow tires on the wheels that came with the car (16 inch alloy wheels) come November/December and they come off in May to late June (depending on the snow year). Les Schwab has charged about $70 per tire swap ($140 a year), and they suggested I buy a set of inexpensive 16 inch steel wheels ($240 for whole set of 4) to mount my snow tires on and keep my all traction tires on the alloy wheels. The alloys they said were about $300 a wheel. When it comes time to swap tires mounted on wheels, they’ll do it for free.

I bought the steel wheels and mounted snow tires on 2 days ago, but I noticed driving them on the freeway today that they run really rough, much worse than the 16 inch alloys that I am used to. Is there a benefit to alloy wheels in terms of running better and more stably? I am thinking about taking these steel wheel back because they feel like junk, so I wanted to see if anyone out there had any comments on driving performance of alloy vs. steel wheels.

I should comment I am not a race car driver, but I know how the car should handle and perform on the freeway with studless tires, as well as in the thick of it when the snow is coming down on Mt. Hood. I don’t want to sacrifice performance if I don’t have to.

You should notice no difference between the steel and alloy rims. If it riding rough, it might be that they weren’t properly balanced. I did the alloy/steel wheel switch for years, noticed no difference in ride.

The alloy wheels are much lighter and are of much better quality. The first part is the important thing. You will feel a difference. Don’t worry about it. It’s winter. You want heavy wheels.

The alloy wheels are much lighter and are of much better quality. Not all alloy wheels are created equal. They should be lighter, but if you check the specs out, often they are not. Certainly the alloys on professional race cars are better, but they may cost more than your car. Many of the cheap (including OEM) alloy wheels are not as strong as steel.

Since road conditions are often poor during winter, I recommend steel wheels for winter.

To clarify more on Joseph’s post, these alloy wheels are usually called “Forged” rims. They do tend to be fairly light, but are expensive