JDM Wheels – Real vs Replica


Ahhh… those good old days when telling if a wheel is real or fake used to be easy.

But those days were long gone, and what’s worse, these days anyone can just order a JDM replica from China easily (okay, maybe not that easy, you will still need lots of cash!)

What really is the difference between a real & replica wheel?

Well for starter, a fake wheel doesn’t mean it is made from plastic. When a replica wheel is mentioned, it usually means the wheel is a replicate of a genuine wheel in term of design. In other words, they create the wheels to mimic popular wheels out there.

But there are two types of replicas out there:

  1. Replicas made by less well-known branded wheels manufacture. These manufacturers usually put their brands on the wheels they replicated. The purpose is usually is just to copy the design.
  2. Replicas that made just to piggyback on the fame of well-established wheels manufacturer. They usually use the same brand as the wheels model they are copying.

Sourcing Replica Wheels from China is literally a click away

So just like any other replica of any products on the market, such as wallet, phones, there are certain things are not assured – quality.

In the world of automotive where quality is equivalent to safety, replica wheels can potentially cost your life. At least your fake Prada won’t try to kill you!

The quality issue is less of a concern if it was made by well-known wheels manufacturer trying to copy it’s the design, as they might or might not have a safety standard of their own.

But for unethical businesses that try to piggy-back on the fame of famous wheels manufactures, their replicas are far more dangerous as you never know where these replicas came from, how were they made and what material was used to make them. It’s like playing roulette, if you are lucky, they have a decent manufacturing process and used good material but if you are not, it’s hell let loose.

Let’s dive more into it, shall we?

So what make good wheels, good?

In the end, what several good wheels from bad wheels can be summarized into three different points:

  1. Material
  2. Manufacturing Process
  3. Safety Test

1) Material

Replica wheels from dodgy manufacturers can use a wide range of material to craft their wheels. In the worse case scenario, the wheels are made with scrap metal they salvaged from a dumpster. In the best case scenario, they use the same material as the original manufacturer.

2) Manufacturing Process

Even with good material, it does not mean the wheel will be strong enough to withstand the harsh real world environment. A good manufacturing process is still crucial. A bad manufacturing process is equivalent to overcooking Kobe Beef.

A good manufacturing process is like cooking the steak just right. Even the infamous Kobe Beef loses it’s flavor when overcooked.

For example, high-pressure casting is a common practice within the wheel manufacturing industry.

During this process, air-pressured is applied into the molten while casting to achieve a higher level of molecule density. However, to cut cost or due to the lack of proper manufacturing equipment, unethically business might opt to skip this crucial process. Wheels that do not go through this process might lack the required structural integrity even for day-to-day use.

3) Safety Test

When it comes to Safety, it comes right down to two things:

  • Replicas have not manufactured the way how they are designed to be. For example, some wheels, due to their design, a forged manufacturing process is required to guarantee it’s structural integrity. However, some replica companies might simply use a high-pressure casting process which put the safety of the wheels in question.
  • Like any other things, there might be defects even if all else are perfect. The defect might be caused by many factors, such as accidental dilution or contamination while procuring the material; or they were some air-bubble which slipped through during the manufacturing process – you get the point.

This is where the safety test comes in, it’s is to ensure the wheels made has the same quality as any other wheels they made before.


So, should you get a replica or a genuine wheel?

Well, it entirely depends on you!

But if you ever get a replica, is it highly advisable to source it from a reputable company. In the end, safety is what matters the most.

written by

Alexander Tee