A great majority of “A” class motor homes today come standard with aluminum wheels. This is in contrast to coaches sold in the 90’s when most were purchased with the conventional steel wheels with the optional trim rings and hub dressings. But, for those that are contemplating a new rig purchase, and find the aluminum rims to be an option, are they worth the extra dollars?

Well, to attempt to answer this we should look at the advantages of these over the tried and proved steel rims.

Lighter Weight: – When comparing a 22.5″ X 8.25″ motor coach wheel rim, the aluminum wheel is around 35 pounds lighter than a similar constructed steel one. This weight difference many vary depending on the manufacturer of each, but this is using Accuride Corporation product specifications. This reduced weight contributes to better ride and handling by lightening the un-sprung weight. While you might think that 35 pounds per wheel should not make that much difference, it is reported that each pound taken off the un-sprung weight reacts to four times that, or in this case, 140 pounds. It further would reduce the gross vehicle weight by 140 to 210 lbs. for a single rear axle or a tag axle type respectively. (Based on the majority of motor homes that used a steel wheel on the inner of the duals)

Stronger Construction: – Some aluminum wheel sizes are rated for higher running air pressure and carrying capacities.

Better Heat Dispersing: – Manufacturer’s of aluminum wheels claim they disperse heat better than that of there counter part, steel wheels.

Smoother Riding and Better Handling: – Aluminum wheels run nearer to perfectly true. This is a result of the method they are built in comparison to steel. Though one method of making aluminum wheels involves a cast product, motor home wheels are produced using forged aluminum that is turned, compared to stamped steel that is welded in the process. A noticeable difference in handling, and or ride, has been experienced by some people.

Better Looking: – Though sighted as the main sales reason the jury on that one may be still out. I’ve seen some pretty nice trim rings and hub domes. But, aluminum do look good, but also still require a hub cover too.

Increase Trade-in Value: – Again, the jury may be out on this one too. The wheel manufacturers claim an additional $1500 or more if you have the aluminum. Personally I would think it may make it more desirable when compared to one without, but extra dollars? I don’t know.

I think really, you will never notice the difference between steel or aluminum rims on a new rig. Because basically the difference is far more subtle than we would be led to believe.

I do believe in the benefits of the aluminum alloy wheel, at least most. This is because I upgraded my last coach after about 30,000 miles to aluminum wheels. The difference was very noticeable immediately. But, to be fair, I should also mention that I replaced the tires from the low profile of a 70 series to the higher 80 series. So, some of the driving and ride differences were probably also due to the tire change.

Now, before you run out and order a set of these on your new coach, or upgrade your existing, there is one more thing you need to know. There are basically two finishes available on the aluminum rims, straight polished aluminum, or a no scrub coating treatment. Each comes with its own different advantage. The straight polished finish can be kept with the highest quality of mirror finish, far out shining the “Dura” like no scrub type. However, this takes elbow grease from time to time. The no scrub finish are truly a wash and dry. No hard work required. However, they do not come close to meeting the shine of the non-coated.

So, are they worth the extra bucks? In my mind, yes. But, there is no one answer to that question. The dressed up steel wheels look great. Because they are chrome dressed, they are capable of meeting, and possibly out shining the polished aluminum while being maintained with a simple wash and dry method.

Reflecting On Wheel Choices – Lug_Nut

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  1. Anonymous

    I am looking at a 2003 Georgi boy landau with 19.5 steel rims with inserts and wasn’t sure if it was worth changing, plus this class A is short and I thought it would handle better, I have not bought it yet, the price keeps changing. SR.

  2. Richard Woelfl

    Does anyone have a source for Aluminum for a Ford F53 with 19.5 wheels

  3. Richard Woelfl

    Does anyone have a source for Aluminum for a Ford F53 with 19.5 wheels

  4. Richard Woelfl

    Does anyone have a source for Aluminum for a Ford F53 with 19.5 wheels

  5. i have a 1989 Fleetwood Pacearrow Rv with 19.5 inch wheels that i exported to Australia where i live ,I am having problems locating alliminium wheels to suit it can any one put me on to a dealer that could advise me what wheels will fit , In Australia we have metric system and i own other Amercian Vehicles and i always have problems bying tyres ect ,so you end up doing all your own research and shipping,Has any one some info that could get me started on this process,I am mainly after the weight savings as our Roads Traffic Authorty are very strict on Load limits, regards Peter

  6. Patrick Fallar

    I have aluminum rims on my Pontaic G6, I think I noticed the air in the front tires are sometimes low, is this due to the rims?
    I also have 17 inch tires, low profile, does that cause the air to leak?
    I guess I want to knoe what the atvantages are to that type of tire & rim
    Thank you

  7. John

    Aluminum is by far the lightest and runs more true than steel rims. If weight and heavy duty use is a factor I think you would be better off with steel rims. I ‘ve seen some aluminum rims crack from heavy weights around 110,000 lbs as we know it is more brittle than steel.

    I see that Alcoa has a new process they claim is not a coating that keeps the rim shiny and clean with simple soap and water cleaning. Gauranteed (limited) for 5 years to be corrosion free. I wish they had this product when I was trucking. We used to rib some of the drivers we’d meet about keeping the old aluminum rims clean. Drive all week and spend weekends cleaning & polishing the rims. Glitter didn’t make any more money for us but it sure made for a sharp looking rig especially when going down the road when a nice sunset reflected off the chrome and polished aluminum rims and fuel tanks. Turn on the clearance lamps and you get the classic look!

    I need to get back on the road…….but this time I’ll bring the wife and the house!

  8. Gary, I believe 19.5 for old MH’s are available. Upgrading to 22.5 depends on body/frame clearance and gearing. You would want to keep the diameter down by using a low profile tire like the 70 series, but it still may be too large a step.

  9. Gary Mots

    Are aluminum wheels available in the 19.5 size for wheels that are on the older P30 chassis?

    I would think with all of these older motor homes on the road they would make them to replace thse wheels.

    If they are not available, what about upgrading the 19.5 to the 22.5 wheels.