If you’re in the market for a new car, you’ve probably noticed that many models have larger wheels and tyres. Larger wheel and tyre packages look stylish, but because of lower tyre sidewall height, ride comfort may be reduced. Conversely, handling suffers when a vehicle is fitted with tyres having tall sidewalls – but there is a middle ground between handling and ride comfort, and it has everything to do with wheel size. Whether you want to soften your car’s setup or you want a more comfortable ride, you can use the following tips to help in your wheel and tyre selection.
Choose Carefully: Size Matters
Most new cars come in varying trim levels. The base model typically comes with the smallest wheels and tyres, while more luxurious models have larger wheels. With sport packages, tyre size and suspension stiffness are increased; if you don’t plan to take the car to the track, you’ll probably be just fine with a stock suspension. If the car you want comes with larger wheels and you don’t like them, most dealers know which aftermarket rims will fit properly.
Sport vs. Touring Tyres
All tyres are created differently. Performance models are usually composed of softer rubber compounds that give greater traction at the expense of ride quality and tyre life. Touring tyres are designed for everyday driving; they ride softer, last longer and can improve your car’s fuel economy.
A Rule of Thumb for Wheel and Tyre Sizing
If you just want to upgrade your current vehicle’s wheels and tyres, aftermarket packages can offer increased ride comfort. When changing from stock wheels, you can increase or decrease wheel size by one inch without affecting the car’s handling, braking or suspension. It’s not advisable to go much larger (or smaller) than that, as your car’s suspension components were designed to work with the stock wheel size. A too-large or too-small change can seriously damage these components, and most rotors and calipers were designed with precise wheel clearances. Going from an 18″ rim to a 15″ rim isn’t likely to work, as the wheel will be incompatible with your brakes.
If you want to change the wheels and tyres on your car, there are many tyre experts you can go to for help and advice. Tyre and wheel fitment tools can tell you which packages fit your vehicle, and some can even show you what your car will look like with the new setup.