Advantages and disadvantages of having bigger wheels

Going for a bigger set of aftermarket wheels has been the latest trend with cars on the road today. You will see this happening from the smallest of hatchbacks to the largest of SUVs. But before you consider getting an aftermarket set for your vehicle you will need to first consider the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. It might be tempting to just pick a design and attach it to your vehicle but there are more factors that you need to take into account. 

Before you go off and choose a design that you want to get for your vehicle, you will first need to know three things. The first is the pitch circle diameter (PCD) of your vehicle, this is the spacing between the bolts. Next is the offset, or how far your wheels will poke out beyond its center point, and finally is the center borehole or the hole in the middle of the wheel. Once you have these three things figured out, then can you start looking for a new set of wheels. 

It’s important to note that the dimensions of a wheel are important in determining your tire size and the corresponding alignment that you must achieve to get the best performance out of your vehicle. 

Assuming that you have done your research, here are a couple of advantages you might encounter when going with a bigger set of aftermarket wheels. While going with a bigger set of wheels will help improve the aesthetics of your vehicle, they can also aid with its handling characteristics. That said here are some benefits of going with a bigger set of wheels.

improved traction

Improved traction

One of the main reasons why car owners get bigger wheels and tires aside from aesthetic purposes is that it can improve the handling of the car. This is because having wider wheels will allow you to have wider tires. This in turn gives you a better contact patch with the road giving your car better handling capabilities thanks to improved grip and traction.

car cornering

Improved cornering

Another beneficial improvement that bigger wheels bring to the table for your car is that it helps your car corner better. Wider car wheels, in the most basic sense, result in more road contact, wider thread, and stiffer sidewalls, all of these characteristics and more will contribute to your vehicle cornering better.

car with 18-inch wheels

Better Aesthetics 

Bigger wheels open your car up to better design choices along with a better assortment of tires. Bigger alloy wheels can give your car a more aggressive or sportier look depending on your personal styling preferences. Thus upsizing both your wheels and tires can give your vehicle a design boost. Having a good set of wheels is like the equivalent of a nice pair of shoes, you don’t initially notice it but upon closer inspection, it ties everything together. 

While having big wheels is generally beneficial for your vehicle, it does come with a couple of downsides that you will need to consider.

gasoline station

Increased fuel consumption

With larger wheels and tires you can expect your fuel consumption to go down by a small amount. While the exact amount varies from wheel to wheel, this is because bigger wheels have more weight. This in turn causes the engine to work harder to rotate them and as a result, makes it use up more fuel. This is because of the added weight and the surface area of the tires you’re installing on the rim. If it takes more energy to move the car’s wheels, the whole system will have to work harder. 

car slalom

Slower steering and acceleration

As mentioned before bigger wheels come with more weight, this, in turn, affects your vehicle’s ability to turn and accelerate quickly. While these aren’t drastic changes, they are noticeable. The steering wheel will feel heavier and your car will feel noticeably slower as well. This is because the bigger wheels give your car a larger contact patch with the road, with that said, this makes the job of the steering system slightly more difficult as it has to move more weight compared to your stock set up. The same thing can be said about your vehicle’s acceleration with regards to bigger wheels. Since the wheels are now bigger and heavier than before it takes more force to get them rolling.

bald tires

Quicker Tire wear

While this can be subjective and dependent on the tires you pair with your new set of bigger wheels, the tire may end up wearing out faster especially around the sidewall areas. This is also due to other factors such as heavier steering and the tires and wheels scraping on your body panels. Again this only happens on a case-to-case basis wherein the wheels and tires are mismatched for the vehicle. However, it’s still something to keep in mind when going for a bigger set of wheels. 

car speedometer

Error in your car’s speedometer

One of the first few things you will notice once you have transitioned into your new bigger set of wheels is that your car’s speedometer will read slower than before. A car’s speedometer is calibrated to its standard wheels that the car comes with from the factor. As such putting a bigger set of wheels on will throw this calibration off giving you a speedometer error of about 10 to 20 km/h depending on the size of the wheel. If you plan on using your bigger set of wheels for the rest of your ownership with your vehicle, then it’s highly recommended that you have your speedometer recalibrated to match your new wheel size. Conversely, you can also rely on GPS speed readings to give you an idea of what your car’s actual speed is unless you recalibrate the speedometer to account for the added dimension. 

gauge cluster

Safety system warning light

The last and most important disadvantage to consider is that your car’s safety systems such as its ABS, EBD, and traction control may not respond correctly with your new set of bigger tires. It is important to note that bigger wheels will bring more weight to the table, since your car’s safety systems are calibrated for much lighter wheels they may struggle to bring the new set to a halt or to respond accurately. To avoid this, make sure you go for bigger wheels that are as light as possible so that they will weigh just about the same as your stock set or close to it. This can help you prevent costly repairs from happening later on. 

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