What Is the Difference Between Tires & Wheels?

by William Zane
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Tires and wheels are essential components of any vehicle that conveys people or material over land. Despite their importance, it is not uncommon for people to confuse the two. Wheels are sometimes incorrectly referred to as tires, and tire as wheels.

Wheel Description

Wheels are the metal parts that bolt to the vehicle's hub, often via an axle.

Wheel Construction

Wheels are generally made of steel or alloy, though there are some modern wheels that are made of carbon fiber. Because they do not come into contact with the roadway surface, wheels are not considered a wear-and-tear item, and only need to be replaced if they become damaged or there is a desire or need for a different size and style of wheel.

Tire Description

Tires are the round casings, usually filled with air, that mount onto the wheel. Tires are the components that make contact with the road while a vehicle is being moved, or even when it is at rest.

Tire Construction

Tires are usually made of a mixture of rubber, nylon and fiberglass. Whereas wheels do not wear down, tires certainly wear out over time from being driven, and need to be replaced periodically, depending on the mileage, age and the condition of the tires, and the roadway on which most of the riding is done.

Wheels and Tires

Your vehicle’s tires are mounted securely on the wheel. To mount a tire on a wheel, the two components need to be compatible in size, particularly in diameter, which needs to be identical.

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