Big Wheels vs. Small Wheels – Performance vs. Comfort

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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:

Big Wheels

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

Pros

– They’re cheap
– Comfort is great

Cons

– 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

205/55R16
225/45r17
225/40r18 front
225/50r16
255/40r17 rear
255/35r18
225/35r19 front
255/30r19 rear

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.

Comments

99Vehicles TV says:

Sorry for the low voice, my microphone had a small problem. Just bought a new one.

KillSwitch says:

salut misto video sper sa mai avem pe viitor chiar am nevoie de sfaturi de genul

Jesse Charland says:

no ur country sucks we do what we want to our cars in usa

mohd.makhdoom makhdoom says:

what will be the effects of putting 17″ inch tyres in front and 16″ tyres in rear or vice versa?

darko99x says:

wouldn’t higher tire walls improve hard straight line acceleration and breaking. High wall would deform more thus giving more contact area. You will never see dragsters on low profile tires.

ravi mirigilla says:

very informative (like no.200), sir i heard higher aspect ratio(more sidewall) have smoother ride than lower aspect ratio.Is it true?

Charles Bonnie says:

Thanks bro

Andrei SO says:

Aha deci esti roman! Sub 🙂

Zohn Williams says:

Glad I live in the U.S. Don’t have to worry about any of those fines.

Charles Bonnie says:

Hi I drive a Toyota townace with 15 inch wheels.should I change to 17 inch ?

Panayot Karpachev says:

Great video! In neighboring Bulgaria tire size in not regulated at all – you can put whatever size you wish, no one will check or let alone fine you for putting the wrong size.

mohd.makhdoom makhdoom says:

hi from Mohammed in australia…great video bro…thanks a lot….why your video is not rated higher…you answered my exact question without too much complexity..thumbsup to you….my mazda mx-5 is on 45R17 and im thinking of going to 50R16 to make the ride less bumpy and comfortable…will it help? but i dont want to loose my braking and fast acceleration…how much of these would i loose? thanks

TP 4UrbHol says:

Rules don’t apply in US, fees wise.

FC Autos says:

Good stuff! Congrats!

Andrea Hu says:

Thanks from italy

Manny C Weiss says:

In the US we can put whatever size we want..here’s my dilema..I drive a c32amg stock rear is 245/40-17, I’ve got 345ft lb/torque so i can spin them easily, Im considering *since i have a very strong motor* going with a 4″ circumference difference, 255 45 17, my reasoning is that i think i can easily pull the tires with my 355hp/340torque, and also the Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 uses the identical engine/transmission and final drive and uses a 255/35-19 rear tire, same circumference as the bigger tire i want to use……what do you think…if you search crossfire srt6 VS * , those care beat everything on the road and track, where as my c32 although fast, it losses to alot of cars on you tube…it’s gotta be the tires, it’s the only difference..

Keith Kordzzz 2 says:

My car originally comes with 18 inch wheels but it has 17 inch rims on it. Do I lose performance?

Eduardo Zamora says:

Using 295/35/24all around…..

EnjoyLifeNow24 says:

I thought that Romania was no longer a communist country.  Suspend your car from circulating because of putting bigger wheels in your car?  That is full blown communism.  What if your girlfriend get bigger boobs and a bigger booty through plastic surgery?  Would she be in house arrest or sent to jail?  What if one starts working out and get bigger muscles would that be against the law too?  What if a man with a small penis gets a procedure to have a bigger penis would he be forbidden from fucking by the government?

Marius Furtuna says:

For a daily, if roads are not smooth i recommend bigger side wall tyres. Looks suffer but you will travel faster because you don’t have to slow down so often. Belive me, i tried both.

Louie Anderson says:

Bravo, bravo!

peter zhang says:

hi. I’m using 235 40 18 tyres now, I want to upgrade to 245 35 19 wheels. I know if the tyres become wider, it will effect the acceleration and making the steering wheel heavier to turn. but are these changes gonna be very obvious (especially the one with steering)??? thx

MandrillMonk says:

Great vid mate, my question is at heigh speed above 120mph the BMW 120d sport dose not give you the confidence to go faster because the steering is so good.
Tyres fitted 205/50R17 93W front
Tyres fitted 225/45R17 94w rear
What would help the handling better at higher speeds as I would think at lower speed you would not notice.

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