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October 19, 2015

Wheels and Rims: OEM vs. Aftermarket

There are two categories of wheels out there for your Buick, factory original wheels and aftermarket rims. The biggest and most obvious difference is that an OEM factory original stock wheel is made for your car and the aftermarket (Think "After the car went to market as new") is a custom wheel made for vehicles like yours.

If cost is the only factor, you will find that many aftermarket wheels are less expensive than their factory OEM wheel counterpart is. Remember however that sometimes you get what you pay for. Cheaper does not always refer to dollar cost. The manufacturer specifically designs OEM wheels for your car. They have the exact offset your vehicle needs as well as ensure that there is enough clearance for your brake calipers. You will also find that the bolt pattern and hub diameter is a spot on match for your axle. Therefore, the moral of the story is that if you do choose aftermarket wheels; make sure you to buy from a true professional that will stand behind wheel fitment problems. If not, that is when your savings in "dollar cost" becomes a costly hassle.

Aftermarket custom wheels are designed to fit several vehicle makes and models to reduce the manufacturing costs by producing more because they are able to offer the same wheel to a wider array of vehicles, not just your specific Buick model. Backside clearance may not always be an issue, but you will need to test fit it just to make sure. Many aftermarket wheels are drilled with multiple bolt patters to get fitment on as many different models as possible. Aftermarket wheels typically have a large enough hub to fit most vehicles and a hub centric ring will most likely be required in order to mimic the stock OEM wheels center bore. Hub centric rings can produce their own set of issues depending on quality and material used.

Availability is another topic when comparing the two different wheel types. Aftermarket wheels usually have a short-term availability span (Meaning that they are no longer are being produced when you need to replace a custom wheel) compared to factory original wheels. Some have been around for a long time while others do not stay in business. This means that any particular style may have only been produced from a few months to a couple years. By comparison, most OEM wheels are manufactured for many years after the model year. Searching for a replacement aftermarket wheel when it becomes damaged may be next to impossible depending on the model and manufacturer. they have gone out of business.

When choosing custom or stock rims for your Buick, you should keep in mind all of these factors. OEM wheels are made for your specific vehicle by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (Think OEM Ford wheel, OEM Chevrolet wheel, OEM Toyota wheel). Aftermarket wheels are made to fit as many models as possible and with that comes its own set of considerations.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) California Tire Dealers Association Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)