Many Eureka drivers want to accessorize their car and make it their own. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is by purchasing new custom wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs to get you the look you want and for many people, that look includes bigger wheels. In the past, vehicles came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Today, 16, 17 and even 18 inches are standard. Factories are even offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more!
Upsizing your vehicle’s wheels is not exactly a “do it yourself project”. There are a few factors involved to ensure your wheel change does not jeopardize the safety of your vehicle nor create excessive wear and tear on other suspension parts.
Unless you plan to modify your suspension, it is important to keep the overall height of the tires the same for several reasons. First of all, if the tire is bigger, it might not fit in the wheel well. Next the speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brake system are all calibrated for the factory rolling diameter or height of the wheel and tire. In order for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, the rolling diameter must stay within 3% of the factory recommendation. If you ignore that, you run the risk that your anti-lock brakes won't work properly. Some drivers may not be too concerned about meter readings, however throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.
Some vehicles are equipped with electronically controlled suspension. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as safety concerns.
As the size of the wheel gets bigger, the sidewall gets shorter. The tire holds less air, so the sidewalls are made stiffer to compensate. Low profile tires from top manufacturers use special compounds that give the sidewall the strength it needs without compromising ride quality. As you increase your wheel size, you'll typically get a slightly wider tire. This means that you have a larger contact patch. The contact patch is part of the tire that contacts the road. Because there's more rubber on the road, the vehicle will handle better and braking distances will be shorter. You do have to watch that the contact patch isn't so big that the tires rub on turns or over bumps.
With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and will need slightly higher pressure. Stay on top of preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to check tire pressure at least once a week. If tires are not kept at their correct pressure, they will wear out very quickly.
Your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Old Town Auto Service can help you get this right. We can install your new wheels and make the necessary adjustments to suspension and brakes if needed to ensure your safety and optimum performance of your vehicle.
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Old Town Auto Service
Revised from content contributed by NAPA Service Assistant