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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to pull the trigger on lift, wheels, and tires here pretty soon and I'm hoping some of those more experienced with aftermarket wheels can help me out with my decision on the wheels. This is the first time I've bought aftermarket wheels and I've been going nuts trying to decide which way to go. First, let me give you my priorities. The JK will not be my daily driver and I'll be using it about 50% of the time off-road on moderately difficult trails. I don't care much about looks although I don't like chrome (been blinded too often by various chrome bits here in sunny California). I'm planning to go with Staun beadlocks, so the wheels must work with them. I want to go as light as possible to minimize the effects on braking, fuel economy, and on-road ride. However, I also want a strong wheel that has little risk of cracking after a hard hit. So ... after doing some research it seems like forged aluminum wheels are the way to go - strong, light, less risk of cracking than cast aluminum wheels. But ... there seems to be a very limited selection of forged aluminum wheels available for the JK in 16 or 17-inch sizes. Also, the few forged wheels I can find (found a few Centerline wheels and one Weld wheel) are all either chrome finish or polished finish. It sounds like polished finish wheels are horrible with road salt and subject to "pitting" if you don't wax them all the time. So, now I'm thinking of just going with a cast aluminum wheel that is clearcoated or painted or going with the old stand by steel wheels, which are a bit heavier but are cheap and will bend rather than crack. My head is spinning! Any advice you can give me would be appreciated.

A few specific questions:

1) How bad can pitting be on a bare aluminum wheel? Does it compromise the strength of the wheel or is it purely cosmetic? Anyone have any pictures of a severely pitted wheel?
2) Anyone have any experience with Centerline wheels off-road? I don't think I've seen any JKs with these wheels, even though they have a lot of options in 5x5.
3) What about steel wheels? Anyone have any recommendations? If I go this route I will probably go with one of the black steelies such as the Cragar Soft 8 . Are there some brands that are better than others? How expensive is it typically to have the steel wheels repainted every now and then. I'm thinking I could just have these repainted every couple years to keep back the rust with the money I save vs going alloy.
4) Should I just go with a cast wheel? How likely is it really, even if I start running more extreme trails, that I will crack a rim? Are some cast wheels better than others (I've seen various claims about special casting methods that strengthen the wheels)?

Thanks for any help you can give me - I'm really unsure which way to go with this one.
 

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I can't comment on all your questions but,

1. Here in the land of snow, sand and salt, bare aluminum wheels corrode (pit) very quickly. I think it would take years to compromise structural integrity but they sure look awful in short order.

2. I don't have any experience with Centerlines in a 4X4 application but I have used that brand on some muscle car projects with good results. They are fairly highly regarded by the Hot Rod folks.

3. I've used steel wheels on a variety of 4X4s with good success. Typically, when they start to look a little rough I give them a light hand sand and rattlecan them. Duplicolor and others make wheel specific spray paints that are available in auto parts stores.

Best I can do.........hope it helps a little. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input. I plan on going with Staun beadlocks, so the Walker Evans wheels would be overkill. Keep em coming!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
shameless bump - any other thoughts?
 
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