Advantages of using steel wheels with winter tires include less expense when changing from summer to winter tires, lowering the vehicle's center of gravity and the ability to use smaller tires for better winter handling. However, buying steel wheels requires a significant initial investment.
Most drivers change to winter tires at the beginning of the season and back to summer tires when it ends. In states where studded tires are allowable, there is usually a season for using them. Driving with studded winter tires outside of this season can result in a ticket. The cost of mounting and dismounting tires on the alloy wheels that the manufacturer supplies with the vehicle along with the time involved in changing them is often substantial. With dedicated wheels, the driver has the option of changing the tires himself.
Steel rims are heavier than alloy wheels. This additional weight below the suspension of the vehicle causes slower acceleration and changes in handling of the vehicle on dry pavement, but the same changes make it easier to control it when there is ice or snow on the road.
Most steel rims are 16 inches or less in diameter. With smaller rims, the owner buys smaller winter tires, which reduces their cost. Smaller wheels also improve handling of the vehicle during winter driving conditions. However, the smaller wheels can affect the operation of the speedometer.