What’s the Difference Between Wheels and Tires?

wheels and tires

Important Information on Gearing Up Your Ride for Winter

Your car needs new wheels for winter, or does it need new tires? Despite how important wheels and tires are to your drive, many people get them confused. So, what is the difference between a wheel and a tire, and do you really need to upgrade your vehicle for winter? Here are the answers to your most important questions about wheels and tires for winter!

First, Let’s Review the Parts of a Tire

While simple in appearance, tires are incredibly complicated. After all, they are truly where your car hits the road. Look at the external parts your tire needs to keep you safe when you’re driving:

Tire Tread

The only way to get a good grip on the road is with excellent tire tread. Tire tread is arranged in blocks. Each style of tire has its own size of tire blocks, depending on what environment you’re driving in. Without tread, your tires would be flat and slide all over the road during inclement weather.

Tread Kerf

Kerfs, also known as sipes, are the small slits in your tread blocks that create extra grip when roads are wet, icy, and snowy.


The sidewall is closest to the rim of your car and is normally a very smooth surface. It protects the internal parts of your tire, like the tire belt and body plies.

Do I Really Need Winter Tires?

You only need winter tires for a car if you live in extreme winter conditions for most of the year or need them to safely drive around your area. Winter tires are made with tread blocks and rubber to help you get around in the snow and ice, but these tires don’t do well in other seasons.

That’s because they are much more flexible on the road than other tires, which means they wear down quickly in warm weather. Avoid a kerfuffle in the summer by choosing quality all-season tires for your daily commute, especially if you’re only driving on suburban streets and highways.

Absolutely need winter tires? Sometimes, people live in an area where they can’t use their vehicle unless it has winter tires. All you need to do is store your winter tires in your garage until you’re ready to use them. Then, get to an expert to have them inspected and installed, so you can be sure you’re as safe as possible.

What Are the Parts of a Vehicle Wheel?

Wheels are usually made of metal like steel or alloy and are bolted to your car. They don’t come into contact with the road, and only need to be replaced if they are damaged or you want an upgrade. Here are the basic parts of a wheel:


Rims offer support for tires, much like your skeleton supports your body, and also contains your hub. Tires wrap around your rim’s metal body. You can customize your rims with aftermarket styles, sizes, and colors.


Your hub connects your entire wheel to your vehicle’s axle and brakes. It contains a series of five holes that have bolts and lug nuts to keep your wheel attached to your car. Your rotors rest against the hub of your wheel.

Should I Upgrade My Wheels for Winter?

The answer to that question depends entirely on your car. If you drive a car that sits low to the ground, you might benefit from winter rims. You can find inexpensive steel winter rims to protect your tires or go for something a little more stylish, by picking aluminum winter rims.

To accurately find out what rims your vehicle needs for winter, contact an expert in tires and winter car accessories. They can easily tell you how to prepare your car for winter, and suggest a convenient maintenance schedule to keep your rims in outstanding condition.

How Do I Know When I Need New Wheels and Tires?

You only need to replace your wheels when absolutely necessary. If you’re not sure if the wheel of your car is damaged, get to an auto technician immediately. Driving on a broken wheel can cause serious and irreparable damage to your vehicle. An expert technician is the only person who can safely repair or replace your wheel.

Tires have obvious signs of wear and tear that should send you into the auto shop for new tires. Here are the telltale signs of worn-out tires:

Uneven wear on your tires can indicate a bigger issue with your car. Talk to your auto expert about any unusual sounds or sensations coming from your tires or brakes, so you can feel safe when you’re on the road.

It Looks Like I Need to Prepare My Car for Winter – Where Can I Get the Best Wheels and Tires?

You’ll be ready to drive your way through winter when you purchase tires and driver safety products from Auto Image. Not only do we have an incredible selection of tires for trucks and cars, we also have a variety of car accessories to outfit your ride for winter, like remote starts and blind spot systems.

Want to really prep your ride for the depths of winter? Ask our experts about automotive paint protection films to keep winter road treatments from damaging your car’s exterior paint. Call our East Brunswick location at (732) 254-2727 or our location in Brick at (732) 920-0606 to find out more about how we can make your vehicle ready for winter.

Don’t forget to ask our team of experts how you can make your winter commute easier with window tinting!