If you are a driver and go on long trips, you should use bigger wheels for your new car. Opting for larger wheels often brings you higher costs, less gas mileage and a harsher ride. Why would you buy it for your car anyway? “Big, sexy wheels are an easy way to stand out,” says Josh Sadlier, director of the content strategy at AutoSite Edmonds. “It’s become an arms race, and everybody’s doing it.”
You’ll find two-wheel sizes in more than half of the roughly 496 models for 2022, says Carl Brauer, an analyst at car research site iSeeCars.com. Larger wheel models tend to be more expensive. They come in packages that bundle different options together. “What this basically means is that you can’t buy the most expensive, best-equipped version of most cars without big wheels,” he says. Whether you’re considering larger tire options for your new car or “plus-sizing” the wheels on your car or off-road vehicle, there are many trade-offs.
Rubber Meets Up with Road
Larger wheels mean the larger the “contact patch” of the tire, the part that touches the pavement, i.e. the contact of the rubber with the road. Larger wheels are heavier, which puts more stress on the brakes and suspension components. Sometimes, larger car rims make the braking distance longer and slower. In addition, the rubber creates more grip and rolling resistance, and the motor has to work harder. But you’ll notice the effects of larger wheels the most on a pump or charger.
A clear example of drag on fuel economy can be seen by putting two different wheel sizes on the same car. For example, the 2022 Toyota TM, -1.45% Prius Eco gets a combined 56 mpg on its standard 15-inch wheel and tires. The 2022 Prius XLE, on the other hand, gets 50 mpg with the same engine and transmission combined with larger wheels and tires.
The larger wheels in today’s electric vehicles have a more distinct effect. 2022 Tesla TSLA, -0.94% Model S Plaid with 19-inch wheels delivers 396 miles of range, and the same car with 21-inch wheels delivers 348 miles of range. That’s more than a 12% decline for an option worth $4,500. Of course, it’s not the wheel diameter that hurts mileage. Rather, the larger wheels’ weight and the tires’ greater rolling resistance cause damage.
Often drivers buy larger and heavier-sized tires for off-road wheels, which are puncture resistant and have deep treads. But a larger tire size greatly affects fuel economy and can cause the inaccurate speedometer and odometer readings. Some off-road experts estimate a lower fuel efficiency loss, ranging from 5% to 10%. People do not see any problem in taking such a percentage chance. Holthoff says that when he swapped the factory tires on his 2002 Mercedes ML500 for off-road tires, his fuel economy went from 13/19 mpg city/highway to about 10/16 mpg. If you spend most of your time on the road, choose an all-terrain tire rather than an aggressive mud tire.
Watch Out for Potholes and Obstacles
Using 26 inch wheels can be more difficult for cars on paved roads. To keep the odometer and speedometer accurate, the wheel’s and tire’s total diameter must be the same. As the wheels get bigger, the tires get thinner, known as low-profile tires.
Low-profile tires cause several problems:
- They are easily damaged by potholes because the tire’s rubber sidewall is more easily pinched between the pavement and the edges of the wheels.
- Without a sidewall to protect them, these wheels “curb” and scratch easily.
- Car drivers face handling problems in the rain and on loose surfaces.
Consider Options and Costs
Many car experts say that “big wheel are often not bad.” “But you should know your vehicle’s usage before choosing larger diameter wheels.”
Before buying larger tires, you may want to consider these questions:
- Will you be going off-road and need those big tires?
- Do you live in an area where the roads are rough and rocky, and you are prone to potholes?
- Do you often have to parallel park and risk locking the wheels?
- Do you want to buy tire and wheel insurance or pay to have scratches removed from the rims?
What are the Benefits of Bigger Wheels on a Truck?
The larger your tire, the more of a grip your vehicle has on the road. As a tire’s width increases, it covers more surface area on the road. According to iSee Cars, increasing contact with the pavement gives your vehicle more to hold onto, increasing its handling and manoeuvrability.
Larger-diameter wheel tend to be heavier than smaller-diameter ones. Larger wheels typically use a lower-profile tire. A larger wheel allows for bigger brakes, which is important for fast cars and can improve handling. A lot of people like the look of large-diameter wheels. What can justify this weight trade-off to achieve better braking and handling?