8 Tips For Buying A Second Set of Wheels On The Cheap

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Are you interested in a second set of wheels for your car or truck? Maybe you’re looking for some knobby off-road tires to put on your Tundra on the weekends? Maybe you’re thinking about how fast your wife’s car would be with a set of racing slicks? Maybe you’re just looking for a way to make it easy to add and remove snow tires from your daily driver without all that mounting and balancing.

Whatever it is, for a lot of people having a second set of wheels for their vehicle would be a nice convenience. The trouble is, wheels are expensive! A set of “cheap” after market wheels might cost $1000, which is too much for some people to consider. So, here are some tips and ideas for finding a second set of wheels for your ride without breaking the bank.

1) Ugly is OK, but cracked or bent is bad. First of all, you can find nice wheels and you can find cheap wheels, but you won’t find wheels that are both nice AND cheap. Most of the inexpensive wheels you’re going to look at will be scratched, scraped, or otherwise ugly. While ugly is to be expected, under no circumstances should you buy a used wheel that is cracked or bent (especially if the wheel is aluminum). Cracked wheels are a big safety hazard, and it’s very difficult to properly fix a bent wheel, so look carefully before buying.

Cracked alloy wheel

Say no to crack...cracked alloys are guaranteed to fail at the worst possible time, so avoid them to stay safe.

2) Get ready to work. Finding a deal takes effort, but the payoff can be big. You might have to look all over the internet, make a dozen phone calls, and drive all over town to find what you want, but finding the deal is half the fun, right?

3) Don’t forget about steel. Steel wheels are heavy and ugly, but boy are they cheap. A set of basic steel wheels can be bought brand new for as little as $200 (depending on size of course). That’s a great deal if you don’t care about looks.

4) Ask about take-offs. No – “take-offs” isn’t a Top Gun reference. The phrase refers to stock wheels that are taken off new or late-model vehicles and replaced with cooler, fancier wheels. Your local tire and wheel shop might have a big stack of take-offs in a back room that they’re willing to part with for a low price, so one of your strategies should be to call around to tire and wheel shops in your area and ask about take-offs for your vehicle (dealerships sometimes have take-offs too, but this isn’t as common).

5) eBay, Baby! eBay is a great place to find used wheels for just about any vehicle in the world. Just make sure that you pay attention to the “shipping and handling” fee before you buy. It’s not unheard of to pay $50 for a set of wheels on eBay and then turn around and pay $200 to have those wheels shipped to your door…so watch out.

6) Craigslist, Vast, Oodle, Kijiji, etc. You should try combing the ads on all the popular local classifieds sites for someone looking to get rid of some wheels that will fit your ride. TIP: Be safe – always meet a craigslist buyer or seller in a public place like a parking lot at a popular store or shopping mall.

7) Salvage yards might be worth a look. If you’re looking for a 2nd set of wheels on an older vehicle, a salvage yard might be worth a gander.

8) Measure twice, buy once. Before you buy a second set of wheels, make sure they’re going to fit.

  1. First, you need to know how many wheel lugs your vehicle has and the lug pattern.
  2. Next, you need to know how far apart the lugs are from each other.
  3. Finally, you need to know the wheel offset distance.

While you can physically measure this on your current set of wheels, you can usually find the information online. If you buy wheels from a reputable website like TireRack.com, your purchase is guaranteed to fit.

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Filed Under: Tundra Wheels and Tires


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  1. mk says:

    thanks for the tips. What would one suggest for me: Going aftermarket and getting cheap steel rims and buying good new winter snow traction tires (about 170 bucks each just for all winter tires) or keeping the stock aluminum rims and just have my local tire shop swap to new winter tires on same rims once on and once off every winter? The stock OEM Kumho tires on my vehicle new are junk with no traction in the winter at all. They should recall those tires for winter use. They ride and wear nice from April to Dec. 1st, but have to get winter tires all around from Dec. 1-March for sure 4 months tops of the year. It is a daily driver putting on about 14K per year on vehicle. My wife was complaining this first winter and I took it out for a test drive in the 2-3 snowfalls luckily we got all winter. She was not joking. It has absolutely NO traction or stopping grip at all in even 1 cm. of snow. It will not move the vehicle on a level surface nor stop on 1cm of snow it is that bad. I am tempted to contact the mfg. and tell them to contact Kumho to recall this OEM factory Kumho tire it is that bad. In all my years of driving, not 1 set of tires were that bad ONLY in winter traction. To get it moving on snow, you have to disable traction control and spin the tires wildly down to pavement to get it moving from a stop.

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      mk – My only problem with using the same set of wheels for snow tires and then your regular tires is that every time you swap them they’ve got to be mounted and balanced. If you have a second set of rims with tires mounted and balanced, you can just swap them out yourself. No cost to you, and no problems with weights falling off, etc. But I admit that a 2nd set of rims is probably a bit of an extravagance.

  2. Mickey says:

    Steelies aren’t guarantted not to fail. Ford has been having issues with steelies leaking air.

  3. JANE says:

    Thanks for the tips… it helps! About the steel wheels any idea where to find the cheap one yet steel working?

  4. Mike T says:

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the condition of wheels.

    Are the bearings smooth?
    Are the wheels true?
    Have any spokes been replaced?

    Mike T

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