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I was looking into buying a set of steel rims for my '97 Camry (for winter tires). I was talking to a guy, who worked at an auto shop, who said generic steel rims aren't exactly good for cars (something about not perfectly fitting bolts or something, not really sure- I'm a automobile noobie), and that I was better off finding a second set of original alloy rims for the car (from another used Camry, perhaps).

Just wanted to know if this statement was BS, or if there was some validity that I didn't understand about what he was saying. I see all kinds of cars with generic steel rims driving around in the winter so they can't be that harmful. As long as I match up the exact specs of the steel rims to that of my car, I should be fine, right?

Steel rims are so much cheaper and easier to find then original alloy rims...

  • Seeing as the bolts (studs) are on the hub, not the wheel, maybe he was referring to the mating surface, or whether it uses tapered nuts (see Arturs answer)? I imagine if you get a quality steel wheel it will be fine. – MooseLucifer Jul 21 '16 at 19:47
  • Might want to hit the junkyard. You can find your lug pattern and what cars share it. – rpmerf Jul 21 '16 at 20:58
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I prefer steel rims - less troubles with balancing.


Talking about bolts for steel and aluminium wheels - they should have different bolts. Alloy wheel bolts have longer thread and cone shape (on the right). Steel rim bolts have shorter thread, and a spheric shape (on the left). enter image description here

So if you buy steel rims, make sure you buy bolts. Sometimes too long can hit something behind the wheel...

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Lower spec Toyota Camry's often had steel wheels as standard. It's very common to have a steel set with winter ties for winter use.

With a 1997 car, it'll be harder to find a decent set of alloys than it will steel wheels.

I'd ignore the 'guy in the auto shop'.

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It's not the fact that it's "steel" that is the potential issue. It's the "generic" part. Toyotas want hubcentric wheels. If you have the wrong bore size (too large), then you've turned it into lugcentric and run a higher risk of breaking wheelstuds/having balance/vibration issues.

  • Interesting response. If I match the rim to the Camry's specs, will that eliminate the lugcentric risk of balancing and vibration issues? – macsmith Jul 22 '16 at 20:42
  • Yes. If you order new wheels from a reputable place, they will also ask you about the application and supply adapters (bore inserts) as necessary as well. – Brian Knoblauch Jul 24 '16 at 12:54

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