Hub Centric Rings: Plastic vs Aluminum


Normally I start off with happy stories of some kind but this time I’m going to start with some sad news. Was a stop light and lined up right next to a Dodge Challenger. Here I’m thinking, “I think I can take it.” So I patiently waited for the green. Once it changed, I shifted through my gears, letting the RPMs hit at least 5000…and then my car started to rattle. So I quickly slowed down and BOOM! My wheel came off and my lugs scattered all over the freeway.

Turns out that my mechanic did not remove my hub centric rings before putting on my winter set of tires. So I had to sit there until my backup support vehicle arrived. For those of you interested in driving a Mazda MX-5, also know that they do not normally come with a jack. I guess they do not expect anything to happen to your car or surveys revealed that jacks in cars are rarely to never used.

As I sat on the side of the road I started to search for replacement rings. I found the same plastic rings (thank you and also a different set of aluminum rings (thank you So what’s the difference?
At first glance and feel, the aluminum rings seem more durable and sturdy. They also feel a little heavier than the plastic rings. The plastic rings have a lot of space in the construction.

Aluminum vs Plastic

The interwebs say:

  • Plastic rings tend to wear out
  • Plastic rings tend to break down in high temperatures
  • Aluminum rings reduce the vibration
  • Aluminum rings are great for performance applications
  • Aluminum rings are more resistant to high temperatures
  • Aluminum rings will wear out and put material on your hub

Before I move on, here’s how to measure which rings you need. The first step is to check your manual to see if it lists your hub diameter. If the manual or your internet searches do not bring up anything, take out a ruler. I have a micrometer in my chest for these types of measurements. Then check the diameter you need for your wheels. For me, my hub was 55.1mm and I needed a 73.1mm. When you order them, look for something that says 73.1 to 55.1. Then it’s your choice on plastic vs aluminum.

With all the pros and cons, I am going with aluminum this round. There was a time I took off my wheel to do some cleaning and sure enough, the plastic was either sticking (it took some force) to break it away from the wheel or in another case the hub.
For Miata owners, here’s the breakdown of the lugs and wheels.

1990-2005 4×100 12×1.5 54.1
2005-2015 5×4.5 / 5×114.3 12×1.5 67.1
2016-2019 4×100 12×1.5 54.1

Let me know if you feel strongly about aluminum or plastic. For the MX-5 2016-2019 drivers, use the link below for the aluminum set you’ll need for a 73.1 wheel.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.