“Is it a tire, or is it a wheel?” is a commonly asked question among automotive enthusiasts.
Oft-times, the answer is hardly clear, and we use the terms “wheel” and “tire” interchangeably. However, are they truly the same or not? Read on to find out.
Are tires and wheels the same thing?
“Tires” and “wheels” refer to separate objects, although some confuse one for the other. The wheel is a circular metal component bolted to a vehicle’s hub via an axle. Meanwhile, the tire is a rubber casing attached to the wheel. The tire and wheel make up the structure that moves your car forward.
What’s the Difference Between a Tire and a Wheel?
To understand the difference between a tire and a wheel, we must understand the features of both.
The wheel is a round component bolted to the hub located under the fender. It is made from either steel or an alloy, and it comprises a rim and a disc.
The rim keeps the tire in place, while the disc keeps the rim linked to the hub and axle.
The tire is a ring-shaped component wrapped around a wheel. It is made from fabric, nylon, and rubber.
It comprises a tread and a body, which serve different functions.
A tire contains compressed air while the wheel moves the tire as it touches the road.
From the aforementioned facts, we can pick out differences between a wheel and a tire.
First, they are made from different materials: wheels from metal, and tires, rubber.
In addition, they have different locations in the wheel assembly.
The wheel is in the inner part of the wheel assembly, while the tire is in the outer part.
Another difference between wheels and tires is their function.
The wheel converts engine power into a spinning motion that propels the vehicle.
Meanwhile, the tire provides traction that allows the vehicle to maintain stability. If the wheel were to spin without the tire, the vehicle would lose its grip and veer off the road.
Because the wheel stays on the inside, it is not susceptible to wear and tear.
In contrast, the tire’s constant exposure to road surfaces wears out the rubber quickly.
Thus, you will have to change your tires once the tread is severely worn.
Do Wheels Typically Include Tires in Stores?
From our research, wheels in stores never include tires.
Tire retailers do not offer wheels along with tires, at least not for the price of a wheel. If you wish to buy a wheel and tire together, a “Tire and Wheel” package is what you will pay for.
At this point, a logical question to ask is, “why don’t wheels include tires?” and the answer would be, “no manufacturer offers complete wheel assemblies for sale.”
(Wheel assemblies refer to the combination of wheel and tire that propels your vehicle.)
You don’t buy a wheel assembly; you buy either a tire or a wheel.
Hence, you cannot expect the store to include a tire with a wheel when you paid only for the latter.
Do You Buy Tires and Wheels Separately?
You cannot get a wheel that comes from the factory with a tire and vice versa.
As such, you have to buy the tires and wheels separately.
In most cases, you will buy only tires, as wheels hardly wear out. Should you want an overhaul of the wheel assembly, you will get both new tires and new wheels. Even then, you will have to pay separately for both components.
We would advise buying tires and wheels simultaneously only if it is necessary. For example, if your wheels are cracked or bent, you should replace them along with the tires (if worn).
However, if your wheels are in good condition, you can replace the tires only.
Also read our article on Are Tires Covered by Warranty?
What Are the Best Tires and Wheels?
To help you shop with confidence, we have compiled the best tires and wheels on the market for you.
Here they are:
Michelin is a French tire brand known for its premium quality tires.
It offers tires aimed at different vehicle segments, including passenger cars, pickup trucks, and sports cars. The brand also makes all-season tires, winter tires, and summer performance tires.
Some of its best tires include:
- Michelin Super Sport Pilot
- Michelin Premier LTX
- Michelin Primacy MXM4
Goodyear is the most popular American tire brand and one of the biggest tire manufacturers in the world.
Goodyear tires offer a mix of exceptional performance, control, and durability.
While Goodyear tires cost more than average, you are sure to get your money’s worth.
Here are some of Goodyear’s best tires:
- Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max
- Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric
- Goodyear Assurance ComfortTred Touring
A foremost German brand, Continental brings its 147 years of experience in making tires.
This results in tires that are truly exceptional in every sense of the word. Continental tires produce low road-noise, excellent road grip, and stability at corners.
If you are a stickler for performance and comfort, Continental is a good choice.
Here are some of the best Continental tires:
- Continental PureContact
- Continental ExtremeContact
- Continental ContiProContact
Aimed mostly at performance cars, American Racing wheels are high-quality aftermarket products.
They are bigger, stronger, and more performance-focused than many standard wheels.
Moreover, they are more stylish, making them aesthetically pleasing compared to stock wheels.
Below are some bestselling American Racing wheels:
- American Racing Hot Rod Torq Thrust II
- American Racing Outlaw II
- American Racing Estrella
Enkei makes a variety of premium-tier wheels for pickups, Jeeps, SUVs, and cars.
Its offerings are suited to many purposes, be it racing, tuning, performance, or cruising.
If you ever feel the need to replace your OEM wheels, Enkei wheels are perfect.
Here are some of the brand’s best wheels:
- Enkei ENKE192
- Enkei FD-05
- Enkei Raijin Hyper Silver