With the evermore expanding auto industry, BMW enthusiasts in search for upgrading their favorite rides are faced with a number of choices ranging from aftermarket wheels to replica wheels and original BMW wheels. The choice can be hard finding the right wheels with the right fit and look for the car, on top of these, following questions surely will pop up:
- What wheels should I buy, replica’s or OEM BMW wheels?
- Are replica BMW wheels really as safe as original ones?
- Will the replica wheels fit properly on your BMW?
Read on to learn more about the differences between replica and oem wheels.
OEM Versus Replica BMW Wheels
Generally going for OEM wheels usually is the easier and safer option, as BMW OEM Wheels are made by BMW and are ensured to precisely fit the cars specifications. Quality OEM replica wheels will fit your tires and vehicle’s center hub bearings exactly. The fitment and compatibility of OEM replica wheels provide a better ride for your vehicle than Aftermarket wheels.
Since Aftermarket wheels are made to fit a wide range of vehicles, they will probably not have the exact same specifications such as offsets to match your vehicle. This can result in a fitment issue when you select aftermarket wheels for your BMW.
Moreover, even the smallest mismatch in size can influence the nature of your ride. This is especially true when adding wheels that have a larger diameter than the original manufacturer’s size. This will result in thinning your tires profiles, bringing the wheel closer to the ground and thus experiencing a bumpier ride, and can more easily crack your wheel in case of hitting a bump at speed.
Are Aftermarket & Replica Wheels Safe?
Most aftermarket wheels are manufactured overseas and may have different safety or performance specs to comply with than BMW OEM wheels must comply with. This means that safety and quality may be questionable and so putting others, yourself and your car to unnecessary risks.
Car manufacturers like BMW, design their wheels based on many factors specific to the car model itself including the weight of the wheel, offsets, size, how it handles, how it is mounted, and other factors. Cheap aftermarket wheel manufacturers are primarily concerned with creating a wheel that looks as close to the OEM version as possible, performance, durability, or safety may come only second.
OEM wheel manufacturers take the performance and handling of your car into consideration and offer a variety of original wheels that will fit your BMW without sacrificing your safety or performance.
When considering putting cheap aftermarket wheels on your BMW that were not designed for the specific model take into consideration that besides affecting ride quality it can also prematurely wear out other parts of your car including your breaks and suspension.
Are BMW OEM Wheels More Durable Than Replica Wheels?
While generally quality replica wheels are equally durable as OEM wheels, stay away from unknown untested replica wheels. There are several ways a wheel can be manufactured and the process of manufacturing is what ultimately determines wheel quality. Both factory and replica wheels vary in their production process, so the question of OEM versus replica wheels is a question of the manufacturing process and materials used during the manufacturing.
Some replica wheels are forged with precision detail while other OEM factory wheels are produced with simple casting. In summary, the quality of a wheel depends on how it was made, not necessarily who made it.
There are three ways to produce an aluminum wheel: cast, flow-formed, and forged. OEM wheels are typically forged with cast aluminum fortified with other metals to add strength.
Aluminum cast wheels use liquefied molten aluminum that is poured into a steel mold. Cast wheels are one piece from that mold. But because it is a liquid first there are a greater number of air pockets or voids in the final product. This makes the wheel weaker overall, and more likely to bend or crack. To ensure the wheels have additional strength, manufactures add thickness, which makes the wheel heavier. All major wheel manufacturers submit their wheels for quality and safety testing so cast wheels are strong enough for road use.
Flow-forming is a relatively new process and results in a wheel that is stronger than cast but a little more expensive. Because it’s tougher than the aluminum cast wheels, the flow-formed wheel does not need extra thickness so it’s also lighter.
Then there are forged wheels, a dense piece of solid aluminum, stretched by thousands of pounds of pressure. This creates a much stronger alloy and a lighter wheel than aluminum casting but it’s also much more expensive.
Signs You May Be Driving On Bad Wheels
Vibration: If you recently installed new wheels for you BMW, replica or otherwise, and notice your car is vibrating, it could be caused by a defect. Also, if you recently hit a deep pothole or struck a curb, have a trusted mechanic inspect your wheels and suspension for damage.
Flat Tires: Deflating tires can suggest that you have a crack in your wheel. Cracks usually form on the inner rim of the wheel, so there might be no visible damage on the outer side. Make sure you check the inner side of the wheel for potential damage.
Alignment: If your car pulls to one side, either a flat tire or a damaged wheel might be the cause.
Bulging Tire: If you suspect wheel damage but can’t find any visible signs, inspect your tires for bulging or other deformities.
How can you tell if a wheel is original BMW or a replica?
Any replica wheel will most likely not have the official BMW stamp on the back, that’s the first and foremost important sign whether they are original or not. Original BMW wheels will have the following data on the back:
- Official BMW stamp
- 7 digit part number
- Size details ex. 71/2JX17 H2
- Offset IS37 , small detail Offset is marked IS and not ET.
- Visual hints, like the 5 holes next to the lug holes. Almost all original wheels have this feature.
Also a good idea is to check whether that wheel was produced in the specific size, original BMW wheels are available in limited number of sizes. Do check this you can visit our list of all BMW original wheels. It is worth knowing what to look for in differences if you are in the market for a set.
High Quality BMW Replica Wheels Are Safe But Do Your Research
Factory and replica wheels must meet stringent standards and carry a stamp on the back that details the load rating in kilograms. Since replica wheels are designed to replace factory ones, they usually meet the same load rating as a factory wheel for the designated vehicle. However, do your homework and read customer reviews on any aftermarket seller before doing business with them. One aftermarket wheel seller we can recommend is OE Wheels. Check here to view their entire range and product line.
Where To Buy BMW Replica Wheels?
It’s always a good idea to do your research before buying something as important as replacement wheels. You can start your search for replica wheels here or browse the list of original BMW style wheels.