If you’re thinking about upgrading your wheels you will need to consider the trade-offs that come hand in hand with altering the tyre and wheel size of your car. Your wheels are the only link your vehicle has to the road, and this means they are intrinsic to the handling and performance of the rest of the car. It doesn’t matter how much new technology your car has, what make or model it is, or how expensive it was; if your wheels aren’t up to scratch you won’t ever be able to get the most out of the vehicle.
All cars are carefully calibrated, and things like the speedometer and gears are set to work with the entire wheel diameter – this means the wheel and tyre together. If you want to increase the size of the alloy, you’ll need to decrease the size of the tyre and vice versa. Usually, if you’re changing the size of your wheel, you can go one inch either way without drastically affecting the performance of the car. But, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s handbook for advice on changing the size of the wheels so you can be sure it won’t negatively affect the car.
Larger wheels not only look better, they can make the handling sharper, but as you’ll need a smaller tyre this increases vibration and noise levels. If you opt for smaller wheels, and a larger tyre, this will mean a quieter, smoother ride which is beneficial if you often drive on less than perfect road surfaces.
Don’t get into a spin
You may be wondering, how does wheel size affect speed? It entirely depends upon what you need from your car. Smaller wheels – and therefore larger tyres – will make for a more comfortable ride, this is probably best if you do a lot of driving in the city or on country roads. Larger wheels mean better grip, handling and performance, but a decrease in acceleration.
If fuel economy is something important to you, then, again, considering the type of driving you do most is key. Smaller wheels can help decrease the overall weight of the car, which means the engine won’t need to work as hard to turn the wheels, therefore be slightly more fuel efficient. Larger wheels could be beneficial if you drive a lot on motorways, especially if you fit tyres with low rolling resistance.
Don’t burn money on rubber
With so many different types of tyre on the market today, it can be daunting to make a decision on what’s best. The easiest way to figure out what’s best for you is to think about what you need from your car. Will you be mainly driving in the city, on country roads, or on the motorway? Choosing the correct wheel for where you drive can help improve the ride and can even save money on fuel. Do a little research before you go into a garage, then discuss with the salesperson what will be most suitable for you.
Don’t forget to check with your insurance company if you are making any significant modifications to your car. Usually, these won’t be an issue, however, if you fail to inform your insurance company it could void your policy.
CRD Auto Industry Insider may contain helpful and on-topic partner content that auto enthusiasts and car shoppers find valuable.