How to Identify a Wheel Rim

by William Zane

Thanks to the fact that there are so many companies making so many different types of wheels, determining exactly who made a wheel and what size it is (the two primary ways of identifying a wheel) can be difficult. There are a variety of reasons you may want to find out more about a wheel or a set of wheels. Maybe you're buying a set of wheels or you simply want to know what wheels you have on your car.

Determine the maker by examining the wheel center cap for a logo or company name. Most wheel companies place their logo on the center cap for easy identification, so start here to determine the maker of the wheel. Examine the rim and the spokes for the name of the wheel maker. If there are no center caps with the wheel maker's name on them, look at the rim and the spokes to see if it is cast into the wheel itself. Turn the wheel over and inspect the back of it if there are no markings on the front. Wheel makers sometimes put their name on the back of the wheel, out of view. This will require that you raise the vehicle on jack stands and remove at least one of the wheels.

Compare the wheel to those sold at online wheel and tire companies, such as Tire Rack, if there are no markings on the wheel. Compare the wheel to photos of other wheels until you have a match. Use an automotive forum to ask what kind of wheel you have. For example, if you think you have a wheel that is made for a BMW, then visit a website such as Bimmerforums.com. Put up a photo of the wheel and see if other visitors to the forum can determine what kind of wheel it is.

Determine the size of a wheel by inspecting the front and back of it for markings. Most wheel makers stamp the wheel size into the wheel itself as part of the casting process. For example, if a wheel says 15x7, then the wheel is 15 inches in diameter and 7 inches wide. If there are no size markings on the wheel, measure the dimensions of it by running a tape measure along the face of it to determine the diameter. Measure the distance between the outer lip and the inner lip to determine the width.

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About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.

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