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Car maniacs always want bigger wheels than the stock ones, just for aesthetics. But do they really know the consequences?
Obviously, there are numerous pros and cons for each kind of wheels, so here we go:
Let’s take as an example 275/30R20, these are stock wheels for the Audi S8 2007 with the 5.2 V10 engine. As you would expect, they’re completely designed for performance.
Just in case you didn’t know
For those who don’t know: 275 stands for tire width in milimeters, 30 stands for aspect ratio which is 30% of the width, and R20 means the size of the rim in inches.
So here are the pros:
– great handling
– less balancing of the rubber material – this significantly improves the car’s overall stability
– better braking performance – you have more surface on the road itself
– acceleration is better only if the engine has enough power. If you put 18 or 19 inch rims on a small 1.6 engine like mine, you will kill the acceleration. However, on an S8 with a 5.2 engine, they’re a must.
– they’re generally capable of greater speed and weight limits
The cons… well…
– They’re pretty expensive
– They wear out faster,
– Comfort is compromised
Small Wheels – we’ll take as an example 195/65R15
– They’re cheap
– Comfort is great
– Weak performance
– Poor handling
– Ugly look
Generally speaking, each manufacturer gives at least 2 wheel dimensions. My Audi A3 has 205/55R16 and 225/45R17. To use bigger wheels, I need an approval from Romanian Car Institute called RAR, so you would probably need one as well in your own country.
BMW has lots of approved wheel dimensions straight from the factory – the e39 5 series has the following recommended wheels
Yeah… thumbs up BMW!
In other words, if you want ultimate comfort at an affordable price, get the 16 inch wheels.
If you want ultimate performance get the 19″set.
If you are in between performance and comfort, you should get 17″ inch wheels.
In my opinion, for a sports car with moderate specs, 17 and 18 inch wheels are the best choice. Sizes bigger than that are expensive, and a bit annoying over time, and sizes smaller than that are weak in terms of performance and look ugly.
I have 16″ wheels on my A3 and I’m pretty pleased with them.
I highly recommend to use the wheel dimensions given directly by the manufacturer. If you use other wheels, be aware that your fuel consumption will change, performance will change, the speedometer will indicate a totally different speed from the one that you actually have, and you would probably get a fine, depending on where you live.
In Romania, I would get my car’s road certificate suspended and a $200 fine if I use 20″ wheels on my A3, so you should be aware of that.