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Aluminum trailer wheels vs. steel?

Old 11-17-2020, 11:40 AM
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Default Aluminum trailer wheels vs. steel?

We're about to buy our first boat, putting the order in any day. But now, as we're really at the outer limit of our budget, we learn the trailer comes stock with steel wheels, but we can upgrade to aluminum. Boat usage will be about 60% fresh and 40% salt water. The cost isn't exorbitant - maybe $450 for four wheels - but at this point an extra $50 would be stressful.

Is the value added of aluminum wheels over steel generally considered worth it? I assume aluminum is more resistant to salt water corrosion? Is this something most people choose to upgrade?

And I suppose a spare tire is a must have?

Thanks!
Old 11-17-2020, 12:14 PM
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steel wheels coated with the galvanized treatment will work just fine and last many years! cheap to replace as well!

if they are steel wheels painted they will rust away fairly quick!
Old 11-17-2020, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolandt03 View Post
steel wheels coated with the galvanized treatment will work just fine and last many years! cheap to replace as well!

if they are steel wheels painted they will rust away fairly quick!
...this...exactly. If they're galvanized I wouldn't hesitate to use them. I just bought 2 new galvanized wheels, with tires mounted, delivered to my front door for $165 (from Walmart (online only) of all places). That's pretty damn cheap... I can do this a few times and still be lower than your $450 upgrade and I get new tires each time!
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Old 11-17-2020, 12:24 PM
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Galvanized steel wheels are perfectly fine and you can paint them black if you want a different look. Aluminum wheels are nice if you like how they look in the driveway, but otherwise you're not going to notice a difference.
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Old 11-17-2020, 12:40 PM
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I'm still trying to find out from either the dealer or the trailer manufacturer (I've asked both) if the stock wheels are galvanized.

We are in no position to upgrade wheels purely for aesthetic purposes.

Last edited by Cranialsoreus; 11-17-2020 at 12:50 PM.
Old 11-17-2020, 01:13 PM
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Had fancy aluminum wheels on my Skeeter trailer and they looked great until they didn't. I had a caliber get stuck and the wheel got super hot and a small amount of grease breached the bearing buddy. That grease actually damaged the finish on the wheel.
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Old 11-17-2020, 01:16 PM
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Who is the trailer manufacturer and what area are you located? Aluminum looks nice, but the galvanized will last years and will be less attractive at the boat ramp when left alone.
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Old 11-17-2020, 01:30 PM
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Go with aluminum
you’re broke already anyway
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Old 11-17-2020, 01:48 PM
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Aluminum trailer wheels looks nice, but other than that they have no advantage over galvanized wheels. Painted steel is a waste of money on a trailer being dunked in saltwater, just like anything but stainless steel brakes.
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Old 11-17-2020, 02:58 PM
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Galvanized steel are hands down better. Unless you are going to clean and polish after EVERY use, the galvanized will look better at the end of the year.
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Old 11-17-2020, 03:31 PM
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Galvanize steel wheels, because if you buy aluminum.... four years from now when you’re pulling your boat down to the keys and your Chinese tires explode, and you pull your boat off the road/bridge and ruin your aluminum rim you’ll never find one that matches the other three.

Ask me how I know...eye twitches, ChChChChinese tires, repressed anger, pissed off on side of hot ass busy road, relaxing vacation. ........serenity now, serenity now, serenity now...

And aluminum rims will look like crap in short order

Last edited by finbox; 11-17-2020 at 03:39 PM.
Old 11-17-2020, 03:42 PM
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Depends on the type of hub. If they’re sealed like Vortex that would be one thing. If they’re the kind with the little rubber donut over the dust cap then your pretty aluminum rims are going to look like crap pretty quickly.

I have galvanized steel wheels. They don’t look fancy but they take serious abuse and clean up reasonably well with a prodigious amount of degreaser a stiff brush and a fair application of elbow grease.
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Old 11-17-2020, 04:07 PM
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Hell,I always run Galvanized Wheels...............................With Hub Caps off My Wife's 1973 Malibu of yester year!!...Actually they look pretty good. I was running 65 Impala Spinner Hub Caps years ago but lost one.
Old 11-17-2020, 04:10 PM
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Just learned my stock trailer is aluminum, made by AMERATRAIL and it comes with GALVANIZED wheels and radial tires.

So forget the aluminum, I'm going with the stock wheels.

Thanks for the advice!

Last edited by Cranialsoreus; 11-17-2020 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 11-17-2020, 04:11 PM
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I wouldn't pay for a wheel upgrade, a tire upgrade, that is a different story.

My boat comes with aluminum wheels standard.
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Old 11-17-2020, 04:27 PM
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To answer your other question, yes get a spare tire/ rim. A spare hub and extra bearing parts come in handy as well!- carry a grease gun to 👍
Old 11-17-2020, 04:35 PM
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If it is a Single axle trailer, you absolutely need a spare tire. Depending on the weight of the boat, even if it’s a double axle trailer it is way smarter to have the spare tire. It’s also a very good idea to have an entire new hub complete with bearings installed and already packed, so if you have a problem you can simply pull it off and replace it. I don’t believe you said anywhere in this thread what the trailer itself is made of. I bought my boat on this really fancy steel trailer, but the steel frame was made of box shaped tubing and, After I launch the boat the hitch end of the trailer was lower than the tail end of the trailer. Didn’t take that many years for it to completely rust away. I know you’re not going to do anything different with your budget right now, but I am a firm believer that the only kind of trailer to have for saltwater is aluminum. If the trailer is steel, just work real hard at rinsing it off every time you put it in salt water. I have tried to get into the habit of going to a hardly used fresh water ramp near my house every time I’ve been in salt to both flush the motor and dunk the trailer in freshwater
Old 11-17-2020, 04:53 PM
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Also, you should have a jack that works with your trailer. Although, with a dual axle trailer you may be able to run the good tire up on a board (or whatever) and get the bad tire high enough off the road to swap it out.
Old 11-17-2020, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by finbox View Post
...ChChChChinese tires, repressed anger, pissed off on side of hot ass busy road, relaxing vacation. ...........
Originally Posted by Rollo Tomassi View Post
Depends on the type of hub. If they’re sealed like Vortex that would be one thing. ...
Originally Posted by kcinnick2 View Post
I wouldn't pay for a wheel upgrade, a tire upgrade, that is a different story....
My AmeraTrail trailer came with Vortex hubs and Goodyear Endurance tires. Made in the USA......
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Old 11-17-2020, 05:25 PM
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I’ve always had the galvanized steel wheels. I was helping clean a friends boat last weekend and he pointed out that the relatively open 5 star aluminum wheels he has, which were fairly cheap, make hosing off the brakes much easier and more thorough. In regular salt water use keeping the brakes free of rust can be a big challenge.
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