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What's Better: OEM or Aftermarket Steering Wheels?

Have you ever found yourself debating whether to stick with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) steering wheel or to venture into the realm of aftermarket options? 

You're not alone. Many car enthusiasts grapple with this decision, weighing the pros and cons of each. 

Let's explore further, and you might just discover the perfect steering wheel for your ride.



Key Takeaways

  • OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) steering wheels are standard on vehicles when first purchased, designed to perfectly fit and perform for specific car models, but offer limited customization.
  • Aftermarket steering wheels, produced by other companies, offer extensive customization in design and materials, potentially enhancing the driving experience, but may not fit every vehicle model and could interfere with safety features like airbags.
  • While OEM steering wheels often maintain the car’s original look and value, they may be more expensive and less available for older or rarer models. 
  • Aftermarket steering wheels offer a wide range of styles, beneficial for enhancing vehicle performance and appearance, but could negatively impact the car’s resale value.
  • Choosing between OEM and aftermarket steering wheels depends on individual preferences for authenticity, performance, and customization while keeping in mind the consideration of safety, compatibility, and legality.


What Are OEM Wheels?

OEM wheels are a key component in the world of automobiles, serving as the link between your car and the road. 


The term "OEM" stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. In simple terms, OEM wheels are the original wheels that come with a vehicle when it is first purchased from the dealership. 


They're designed specifically for each model by the vehicle's manufacturer, ensuring a perfect fit and optimal performance.

Pros and Cons of OEM Wheels

Understanding the pros and cons will help you decide whether to keep your vehicle's steering setup as is or opt for an aftermarket alternative. We’ve listed the pros and cons of opting for OEM wheels.

Pros of Choosing OEM Wheels

Perfect Fit Guaranteed

OEM wheels are designed to match the specific make and model of a vehicle. This ensures they fit without any modification needed, providing an exact replacement or upgrade.


Maintains Vehicle Value

Using OEM wheels helps retain the vehicle's original look and style, which can be important for resale value. Authentic parts are often preferred by potential buyers.

Assured Quality

The wheels are made under the vehicle manufacturer's strict standards, ensuring high quality and durability. This can give car owners peace of mind regarding the reliability of their wheels.

Compatibility with Other Vehicle Parts

Designed to work seamlessly with the vehicle’s suspension and braking systems, OEM wheels help maintain optimal performance and safety levels.

Cons of Choosing OEM Wheels

Limited Design Options

Since OEM wheels are created to fit a wide range of the same model, there might be fewer designs and materials available compared to aftermarket options.


OEM wheels can sometimes be more expensive than aftermarket ones because they carry the brand name and are sold through dealerships with higher markups.

Availability Issues

Depending on your vehicle's age or rarity, finding the exact OEM wheel replacement can be challenging, leading to potential wait times or the need to purchase through specialist suppliers.

Less Customization

For those looking to enhance their vehicle’s performance or appearance in specific ways, OEM wheels may not fulfill all personal preferences or requirements.


What Are Aftermarket Steering Wheels?

Aftermarket steering wheels are special types of steering wheels that can replace the original steering wheel that comes with your car. 


Unlike the factory-installed ones, these are produced by companies other than the vehicle manufacturer. They offer a way to customize and enhance your driving experience.

Pros and Cons of Aftermarket Steering Wheels

You should also consider the benefits and drawbacks of opting for an aftermarket steering wheel. Here are the pros and cons of choosing aftermarket steering wheels.

Pros of Aftermarket Steering Wheels

Increased Customization

Aftermarket steering wheels offer a wide range of designs, materials, and colors. This variety allows car owners to personalize the interior of their vehicles to match their style and preferences.

Enhanced Driving Experience

Many drivers find that aftermarket steering wheels provide better grip and control over the vehicle. This improvement can make driving more enjoyable and even improve performance in certain driving conditions.

Unique Style

Installing an aftermarket steering wheel can significantly change the look and feel of your car's interior, setting it apart from standard models. It's a straightforward way to make a vehicle stand out.

Cons of Aftermarket Steering Wheels

Safety Concerns and Legal Issues

The most significant downside is related to safety issues, especially regarding airbags. Federal law in many places prohibits removing or altering factory-installed airbags, which is a consideration when switching to an aftermarket steering wheel.

Compatibility Issues

Not all aftermarket steering wheels will fit every vehicle model. There's a need to ensure that the new steering wheel is compatible with your car, which sometimes requires additional adapters or kits.


Potential Impact on Resale Value

Modifications like changing the steering wheel might not appeal to all buyers if you decide to sell your vehicle in the future. This change could potentially affect the car’s resale value.

Which One Should You Choose?

Deciding between an OEM and an aftermarket steering wheel depends on your specific needs and preferences. 


If you're looking for a steering wheel that maintains the original look and feel of your car, an OEM steering wheel is your best bet. It ensures compatibility and preserves the vehicle's value, which is crucial if you're not planning on extensive modifications or if resale value is a concern.


On the other hand, if customization and performance are your goals, an aftermarket steering wheel might be the right choice. 


They offer a wide variety of materials, designs, and features that can enhance your driving experience, improve grip, and reduce weight for better steering response. 


However, ensuring that your chosen aftermarket steering wheel is compatible with your vehicle and doesn't interfere with safety features like airbags is essential.


The debate between OEM and aftermarket steering wheels ultimately boils down to personal preferences and priorities. 


Regardless of your choice, you should always consider safety, compatibility, and legality before making your decision.


Whether you prefer the authenticity and quality of OEM steering wheels or the personalization and performance of aftermarket options, the perfect steering wheel for your ride is out there. Choose wisely and enjoy the journey ahead.


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