Buying used wheels instead of new can potentially save you a lot of money—if you know what to look (and look out) for. Here are some things you can do to make sure you end up with good wheels and a good deal:
- 1. Measure—Make sure the wheels you are buying will work with your vehicle. If you are buying a larger wheel than your current size, make sure there will be enough clearance around the tire in the wheel well; if you’re buying a smaller wheel, check your vehicle’s ground clearance. If your wheels attach with five lug nuts and the ones you want to buy only use four, you’ve got a problem.
- 2. Perform a visual inspection—Even if you’re not a trained professional, you can still spot peeling chrome or clear coat that is flaking off. If only a small area of the wheel is affected, the problem will continue to get worse until it needs to be stripped down and recoated (at a cost of about $250 per wheel).
- 3. Test for straightness—Wheels may look straight, but a small imperfection can cause big problems at 65 m.p.h. If you have the option, take the wheel to a tire store where they can test for straightness by putting it on the wheel balancing machine. If you can’t take the wheels to a tire store, try rolling them on a flat surface such as a garage floor and see if they roll straight.
Before you buy, it’s a good idea to do your research and shop around. Get an idea of the average price for both new and used wheels of the type you are looking for. It’s always best to buy from a reputable dealer, especially if they offer a return policy. But if you just can’t pass up the price in that craigslist ad, these tips may help you get the great deal you’re hoping for.