Wheels can have a huge visual impact when it comes to overall appearance of your car and most of us would like to get a set of bigger meaner wheels for our ride. However, we have to consider some factors which could make our car beautiful and sporty or hideous and uncomfortable.
Wheel dimension is the most important thing we have to consider and each car manufacturer assigns the ideal wheel size for their model, which on the other side doesn’t necessarily have to be the right number you have to follow.
Most important rule is that your new wheels have to be at least close in diameter as the original wheels, meaning that your new wheel and tire has to be close in diameter as your old wheel and tire.
This is important because otherwise you might have to do some additional modifications which will cost you money and cause some undesirable effects like really uncomfortable ride.
Also you have to make sure that any of the tires are not making contact with the car’s body even when your car is fully loaded going over uneven roads. This could be very dangerous as tire might burst causing unnecessary accident.
You can use some tricks to fix this like adding rubber inserts to your. However, keep in mind that ride is going to be even more stiff. It is a serious business and last thing you want to do is compromise safety. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of big wheels.
1. Better appearance
There isn’t one other thing you can do to your car which is going to improve its appearance more than buying bigger wheels. But, before buying anything, you have to do some research which will help you decide on which wheels to buy. Do not get the first wheels you find desirable.
Be smart about it firstly because a set of wheels and tires can cost a lot, and you surely don’t want to make a bad decision there. In a world where technology is dominant you can find out how your car will look like with a certain wheels even before you make a decision.
The best thing for that job would be Photoshop and some basic knowledge. If your Photoshop skills are not really that good, you probably have the friend which could help you out with that. You can also find a bunch of pictures on the internet of your car with some amazing wheels.
This could also point you in the right direction. As we already mentioned, wheels and tires can cost a lot of money which you might not have at given moment, however, do not buy cheaper wheels as you might regret your decision soon. Save up for the right wheels, even if it takes you a couple of months, it can make a world of difference.
2. Improved stability
Small and thin wheels and tires might be good for a few things, but they are certainly not good for stability. Regular tires curve more in the corners which has a huge effect on stability. Also due to their width, they do not make a lot of contact with the road. First thing you will notice when you drive a car with bigger wheels is amazing stability which go with them.
If you add to equation some performance tires you’ll have a car which handles like a dream. Main reason for this is wider tire which basically has more contact with the road. Also the stiffness, which is result of bigger wheels, contributes to better stability.
As we already mentioned, stability improves as the low profile tire doesn’t flex as much in the corners as your regular tire does. If you add some spacers, you’ll make your car wider which will in return improve stability even more. They might cost a little bit of money, but they are certainly worth it.
3. Shorter braking distance
Just like stability, basic physics benefit the braking distance. Wider tire has more contact with the road which decreases braking distance. Issue here is that good tire is very expensive and it might be hard to get if you look for it locally (depending on a type of wheel you’ll get).
If you look for them online you might end up buying poor quality tire which doesn’t offer a lot of traction. So do your research and find the tire which will give you the best performance. Keep in mind that good tires can make a difference between life and death. One more issue you might encounter is the poor tire performance during the winter – thinner tires offer significantly better traction on snow.
On the other side if you buy cheaper tires you might have problems with traction even on wet road. It is all in the tire compound, softer tire will give you maximum performance but they will wear out faster. Harder tires might last lot longer but their performance is far from impressive. It would be best to find balanced tire that will offer you fair performance and decent lifetime.
4. Slower acceleration
Bigger wheels and tires weigh more and they will make your engine work harder which will result in slower acceleration. How much depends on engine HP and torque. If you have a big engine which develops decent amount of horsepower, decrease in acceleration will be minimal. On the other hand if you drive a car with 1.8 liter engine and you want to mount 19 inch staggered wheels, you might be disappointed by results.
However, there are ways to get around this. If you are real car enthusiast you probably won’t stop at the rims and you’ll probably want to increase your car’s power one way or the other. Smartest solution would be to increase HP by simple modifications like adding high flow air filter and performance exhaust.
None of these additions are complicated and you won’t have to spend a lot of money. You can also significantly increase engine’s power by adding supercharger or turbo charger. Both of these jobs are somewhat complicated and you must have decent budget for them. Just remember that turbo takes few percent of engine’s power to run, while supercharges can take up to 10 percent.
5. Less comfort
If you put bigger wheels and tires on your car it will be less comfortable because tires are harder and they have more contact with the road. There is no cheap solution to this problem. Regular tires have some disadvantages when it comes to cornering and traction, but they do make your car more comfortable.
They are taller than the low profile tire and they absorb lot of bumps on the road. Harder ride can also wear out other suspension components quicker. As we mentioned there is no simple solution for this problem. You can install air suspension which will fix the problem, but it is somewhat complicated and fairly expensive. How much of negative effect will bigger wheels have on you ride depends on the type of car you have.
If you want to put bigger wheels on Ford Mustang which already has somewhat stiff suspension, effect will be more noticeable. On the other side if you want to mount bigger wheels on Lincoln Navigator, effect will not be as pronounced because Navigator is made to be comfortable and its suspension is soft.
6. Increased fuel consumption
Bigger wheels and tires are also much heavier which makes your engine work harder resulting in increased fuel consumption and slow acceleration. We already mention few solutions which you can use to get around the problem of slow acceleration, but none of those solutions will help you with fuel consumption, in fact they might even make it worse.
How much of this negative effect you might see on your car depends on the power of an engine. Big powerful engine which produces a lot of HP is not economical in the first place, but due to its power this effect will be minimal.
Small engine which produces around 150 HP is economical but added weight from wheels and tires will result in noticeable increase in fuel consumption. You can minimize this effect if you stick to the company specifications, at least roughly, meaning that you don’t mount massive wheels on the car with small engine. If your main concern is fuel consumption you might reconsider your decision. Remember, more weight, traction and contact with road, more fuel is needed, while light weight wheels and tires will increase mpg.
If you decide to get bigger wheels prepare to spend some serious money. Average wheels with decent tires will cost you as much as two thousand dollars or more, depending on manufacturer. That is if they are new. If you decide to get second hand wheels with used tires (which is not recommended), you will spend half of that.
However, you might not get the desired effect, and you have to be careful when buying used rims and tires because they might be damaged. Only way to really check this is to take them to tire shop. Heavier wheels might also have negative effect on your suspension and that might result in higher maintenance costs.
It is easy to get carried away by enormous wheels which will look hideous and cause a lot of problems. Carefully chosen wheel size, which doesn’t differ much from the original combined size of wheel and tire, will help you avoid all of these disadvantages and make your car look great. Only then fuel consumption will not be noticeable as well as slow acceleration, while you’ll be able to enjoy better stability, braking distance and improved appearance.