So, your tires are worn-down and looking almost bald, and the time has come to change them with a new set? Luckily, there is a plethora of options available on the market, from premium tires that cost a fortune to super-cheap tires that cost less than a dinner at a good restaurant. But whichever tire you choose, you won't get it with a rim. Well, in most cases.
But why is that the case? Why don't retailers sell tires together with rims, so we can easily install them on our cars? Well, there are some obvious reasons, like the added cost and the fact that it is not necessary to replace the rims as frequently. Still, some retailers do offer tire+wheel combos, so why is that the case?
That is exactly what I will try to explain in this article, where I will try to unravel the mystery of why new tires don't (or do) come with rims. So, without further ado, let's dig into the matter!
- Introduction to Tires and Rims
- Buying New Tires: What's Included?
- The Process of Mounting Tires on Rims
- Costs and Considerations When Purchasing Tires and Rims
- Care and Maintenance of Tires and Rims
- Special Cases: Types of Tires That May Come with Rims
Introduction to Tires and Rims
People that aren't very familiar with cars often mix tires with the rim, i.e., the whole wheel. However, these parts aren't the same, and although they work in unison, they have different uses. So, let's first have a closer look at tires and rims and see what their roles are in a vehicle.
1. What Are Tires and What Do They Do?
Tires are rubber rings filled with pressurized air that play a critical role in providing traction, absorbing shocks, supporting loads, and maintaining direction. By gripping the road, tires allow the vehicle to move forward or backward, turn, and stop efficiently while providing the passengers with a comfortable ride.
The modern pneumatic tire is a marvel of engineering, as it allows us to travel at very high velocities in good comfort while lasting for thousands of miles. Still, tires vary depending on the vehicle and their intended use.
The main differentiation between tires is the type of weather they are designed for, like summer, all-season, and winter tires. Then, tires differ according to the type of vehicle and the driving experience they provide. For instance, touring/grand-touring tires are tuned for comfort, high-performance tires are tuned for driving fast, and all-terrain/off-road tires have special features that make them usable in off-road scenarios.
The main components of a tire include the tread (the patterned outer layer), sidewalls, beads (which connect to the rim), and internal structure, often made of steel belts and fabric. Most modern tires have the belts set radially, from sidewall to sidewall. These "radial" tires provide better high-speed stability, a smoother and quieter ride, and longer treadlife.
The other type is bias-ply tires, which run the belts at an angle. These tires are often used for heavy-duty tasks, like for agricultural and construction vehicles, due to their strength and high-load capability, though they aren't very good at handling high speeds.
In summary, the tires act as the point of contact between the vehicle and the road, enabling safe and controlled movement.
2. Understanding the Role of Rims in a Vehicle
Rims, often referred to as wheels, are the metal components to which the tires are mounted. They provide a structural foundation for the tires, ensuring that they remain round, stable, and properly aligned.
But rims today are more than just functional – they also have a high aesthetic appeal. As such, they can be replaced with different models to further customize the looks of the vehicle and also improve the performance. Namely, different sizes and designs of rims can affect the vehicle's handling, ride quality, and appearance.
Still, you can't just put any rim on your car and expect it to work with the existing tires. The size of the rim must match the tire's specifications to ensure a proper fit. Incorrect pairing can lead to decreased performance, potential damage, and safety risks.
In addition to holding the tire in place, rims house the valve stem (for inflation) and can assist in cooling the brakes, depending on the design. Some rims are designed with specific performance enhancements in mind, such as reducing weight for better fuel efficiency or increasing strength for rugged terrains.
For instance, forged alloy wheels are usually stiffer and lighter than cast wheels, which can have a huge effect on longevity, handling, and performance. Meanwhile, off-road wheels are usually made from steel, which is a sturdier material than aluminum alloy.
Together, the tire and the rim form the wheel assembly, a crucial part of any vehicle that significantly influences its performance, safety, and aesthetics.
Buying New Tires: What's Included?
Purchasing new tires is a very common task for every vehicle owner, as, on average, it happens every three years. But what would you really get when paying for tires online? Are you getting the tires together with the wheel so you can quickly install them on your car? Let's clarify.
1. The Usual Package: Tires Only
In most cases, when you buy new tires, you are purchasing just the tires themselves, not the rims or wheels. Tires are often sold separately from the rims to allow for customization and to match the specific needs of the vehicle.
But also, you don't need to change the rims as frequently, and it will sometimes last the whole lifespan of the vehicle. In other words, replacing your rims at each tire change is completely unnecessary.
Furthermore, the existing rims on a vehicle are usually compatible with various types of tires, so it's common to change the tires without needing new rims.
When buying tires, the price quoted generally includes only the tire (or a set of four), and additional services like mounting, balancing, or alignment are extra.
2. Exceptions: When Do Tires Come with Rims?
Although most tires don't come with rims, there are some exceptions to the rule. The most common exception is ST (Standard Trailer) tires used for trailers. These usually come together with the rim because the combination is specifically matched to the trailer's needs.
Some tire shops also sell winter tires together with rims to make seasonal changeovers easier. The rims in these packages are usually made from steel because it makes them cheaper. As a result, the owner won't be as sorrowful when the salt used to melt the snow damages the wheel.
Some custom wheels and tires also come in pairs and are tailored to specific vehicles. In addition, you can find many tires+rims on the used tire market, especially when the owner wants to migrate to larger or better wheels.
Regardless, the inclusion of rims will usually be clearly stated in the product description, and the price will likely reflect this additional component.
The Process of Mounting Tires on Rims
Mounting the tires on rims is a crucial part of the tire replacement process. Not only is it a very time-consuming procedure, but you should also ensure that the tire is properly balanced with the new wheel. Thus, even though I have quite an extensive knowledge of cars, I always trust my tire dealer for this job – the technicians there have all the tools and experience to do the job right.
1. How Tires Are Mounted on Rims
The tire installation process seems very easy and straightforward when written down. Here is how it goes:
- Removing the old tire: if replacing a tire, the old one must be removed from the rim using specialized tools.
- Inspecting the rim: before mounting, the rim should be checked for damage, corrosion, or any deformities that could affect the mounting process.
- Applying lubricant: the tire technician applies a special lubricant to make the tire slip onto the rim more easily.
- Positioning the tire: the tire must be aligned correctly with the rim, ensuring that it is not twisted or misaligned.
- Seating the tire: using a powered tire mounting machine or manual tools, the technician presses the tire onto the rim. It's vital to follow the manufacturer's specifications to avoid damaging the tire or rim.
- Inflating the tire: once mounted, the technician inflates the tire to the proper pressure, ensuring a proper seal with the rim.
- Balancing the wheel: after mounting, the wheel should be balanced to ensure smooth and even wear. This is a crucial step, as it also affects the car's steering and overall performance.
As I said, the process looks pretty straightforward when written neatly, but it still involves some intricacies. For instance, only experienced technicians will know how to use the machines right and produce a well-balanced wheel with correctly installed tires. Want to know what those tools are? Let's get to the next point.
2. Tools and Equipment Needed for Installation
You could change tires on a rim using only some hand tools, but you won't produce a fine enough job. Moreover, numerous dangers are involved. These include damaging the rim or tire – hand tools are much less precise to work with. Not to mention, there is no way you can balance the wheel without specialized equipment.
Therefore, every tire service shop is equipped with these special machines:
- Tire mounting machine: this machine holds the rim and assists in pressing the tire onto it. It can make a labor-intensive manual job much easier and way quicker.
- Tire levers or bars: these help in removing the old tire and positioning the new one. You can use these tools even without the tire mounting machine if you are a DIYer, but the job will be much harder.
- Bead seater: a device that helps to seat the tire properly on the rim.
- Air compressor: used to inflate the tire to the correct pressure. Shops are equipped with powerful air compressors that can reach the necessary pressure in a matter of seconds.
- Balancing machine: this ensures that the wheel is balanced, promoting even tire wear, responsive steering, and smooth riding at higher speeds.
3. Professional Installation vs. DIY Approach
I would strongly suggest a professional installation of your new wheels, especially if you don't have the necessary equipment. Professional tire service shops not only have all the tools necessary to carry out the job quickly and efficiently, but the end result will be a more durable and safer tire.
For those with mechanical skills and the necessary tools, mounting tires at home is possible. However, it is time-consuming and can be risky without the proper knowledge and care. Moreover, the equipment you will need to carry out the job safely is quite expensive and substantial and only worthy if you use it professionally.
Costs and Considerations When Purchasing Tires and Rims
Buying new tires and rims is not just a matter of aesthetics; it's also a critical decision affecting your vehicle's safety, performance, and budget. Not only do you need to choose between different tire brands, but you also need to choose a tire type that fits your driving style and the climate in your area. It is a tall order, but you can get around it if you follow my pricing structure below.
1. Pricing Structure: Tires, Rims, and Installation
Understanding the pricing structure for tires, rims, and installation can help you budget effectively:
- Tires only: when you buy tires, they usually won't come with rims (except with some types of tires, like Standard Trailer (ST) tires). Prices vary significantly between tires and depend on the brand, size, type, and quality of the tires.
- Rims only: rims are almost always sold without tires, though you can find combos on the used car market. The price of the rims depends on the material (steel or aluminum alloy), production process (forged or cast), and brand.
- Installation cost: this is involved in every tire change. It will add cost to the four tires you already purchased, but you might get a discount if you do everything at one place, i.e., buy and install the tires at the same service shop.
- Bundle packages: some sellers offer packages that include the tires, wheels, and installation at a discount. You could even get a discount if you buy the tires and wheels and pay for installation at the same place.
- Extras: consider additional costs such as valve stems, tire disposal fees, alignment, and any state or local taxes.
2. Selecting the Right Rims for Your Tires
Choosing the right rims for your tires seems straightforward, but there are still some intricacies involved.
Still, the first thing that you need to make sure of is that the tire size matches the rim diameter. Mismatched sizes can cause handling issues and tire damage. Then, you also need to choose wheels that are wide enough to accommodate the tires, but not too wide, because then the tire won't sit properly. You can go with various wheel widths for the same tire, but I recommend asking a professional for the best fit for your car.
Then, you should also consider the material. Steel and aluminum alloy is by far the most common; steel is sturdier but heavier, while aluminum is lighter but more prone to damage. Most modern cars come with aluminum alloy wheels because the lighter design benefits handling, fuel economy, and ride comfort.
Finally, decide whether to go with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) rims or explore aftermarket options, keeping in mind quality and compatibility.
3. Warranty and Guarantees: What to Look For
Knowing what warranties and guarantees come with your tire and rim purchase can save you from unexpected expenses down the line.
All tires come with a manufacturer warranty, which covers defects in materials and workmanship. Understand the duration and what exactly is covered before making a purchase.
Today, most tires also come with a treadwear warranty that covers a specific number of miles. That is especially true for touring and grand-touring all-season tires, which come with warranties of up to 90,000 miles. This can be a valuable feature for long-term usage.
Furthermore, most shops offer a warranty on the installation, ensuring that if something goes wrong due to the installation, it will be fixed at no extra cost. The best retailers, though, offer a satisfaction guarantee, allowing you to exchange the tires or rims within a certain period if you're unhappy with them.
Finally, read the fine print – tire manufacturers or retailers often include terms and conditions that might include exclusions or requirements for regular maintenance and inspections.
Care and Maintenance of Tires and Rims
Caring for your tires and rims is not only about keeping them looking good but also about maintaining their performance and safety. Proper care ensures that your vehicle provides optimal handling, fuel efficiency, and overall functionality. Let's explore the essential aspects of tire and rim maintenance.
1. Keeping Your Tires in Good Shape
Although many people just install the tires on the vehicle and forget about them, they also need proper maintenance to ensure longevity and safety. Think about it – the tires are your vehicle's sole contact with the road, and thus, their condition has a significant impact on your driving experience. Here is how you can ensure that your tires are at their optimal performance at all times:
- Maintain proper air pressure using a pressure gauge to ensure that your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended level. Over or under-inflation can lead to premature wear, reduced fuel efficiency, worse handling, and lower safety.
- Regularly inspect the tires. Check for signs of wear, cracks, or other damages. Look for uneven wear, which might indicate alignment issues.
- Avoiding overloading the tires! Always adhere to the tire's load capacity as specified by the manufacturer to avoid excessive wear and possible tire failure.
- Deal with punctures and repairs promptly. Consult a professional if necessary.
- Avoiding harsh chemicals when cleaning the tires. Use products specifically designed for tire care to prevent the rubber from drying out or cracking.
2. Preserving the Appearance and Function of Rims
Rims also need maintenance to remain visually appealing but also to ensure that they work properly at all times. Here is how you can make sure that your wheels are always shiny:
- Regularly clean the wheels because they are often full of brake dust, dirt, and grime. Use a soft brush and a special rim cleaner.
- Inspect your wheels for cracks, bends, or other structural issues, especially after hitting a pothole or curb. These are not only unsightly – they can also weaken the structural integrity of the wheel.
- Avoiding corrosion! If you have alloy rims, be mindful of signs of corrosion and consider a protective coating.
- Always use cleaning and polishing products suitable for the material of your rims, whether steel, alloy, or chrome.
3. Understanding the Importance of Tire Rotation
Tire rotation is an essential part of tire maintenance. It ensures that the tires wear evenly, thus greatly extending their lifespan. Tire rotation involves moving the tires from one position to another, such as front to rear or side to side, following a specific pattern.
The frequency of rotation depends on your driving habits and vehicle type. Most manufacturers recommend every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, which usually coincides with the oil change intervals on most cars. So, for convenience, I highly recommend rotating the tires at each oil change.
Special Cases: Types of Tires That May Come with Rims
In most instances, when purchasing new tires, you're buying the tire alone, not the rim (or wheel) that the tire mounts onto. Still, there are exceptions to the rule that I already mentioned, like Standard Trailer (ST) tires. But why do these tires come together with wheels?
Well, it is mainly for convenience – ST tires are often sold with rims to facilitate easy installation and replacement, especially when dealing with frequent loading and unloading scenarios. Moreover, the bundled rim ensures proper fit and alignment specific to the trailer's requirements.
But you can also get tires+rims for cars in packages or bundle deals. Automotive dealers often include such deals when you buy a new car, but tire retailers also often have seasonal bundles because they usually want to get rid of the old stock. Online marketplaces, like Amazon or eBay, also offer packaged deals to lure you into buying the tires from them.
I hope that this article clarified things for you and made that tire-buying decision easier. In the end, it all boils down to choosing the right tires for your car, the climate in your area, and the type of driver you are.
Whenever you choose tires, make sure that all of those factors match your needs, and I am sure you will be happy with the purchase. Included wheels or not, buying tires is an important decision that affects your pocket but also your safety and overall well-being. So, make a smart choice!
I’m Ivo Gievski, the content writer for Tireer. We built our website with over 15 years of experience and extensive research in the automotive and technology sectors. My dedication to delivering high-quality content is unwavering, and I strive to continuously hone my skills to stay ahead of industry trends and provide readers with informative, engaging, and valuable insights.