What Things Should I Consider When Upgrading My Tire Size for Custom Wheels or Rims?

Categories: Tires 101

So you’ve had your car for a little while and you’d like to spruce it up a bit to reignite that fire you had when you first purchased or leased it. One of the simplest things you can do is upgrade your wheels and tires. If you’re looking to upgrade your factory rims with a new, larger set of shiny rims, you’ll need matching tires so you’re probably wondering what things you should consider when shopping for larger tires? While there are a number of considerations a few of the more important items to consider are:

  • Tire Ratings and Specifications
  • Performance
  • Climate and Road Conditions

#1 Tire Ratings and Specifications

First, anytime you purchase a new set of tires you’ll want to make sure they meet or exceed the manufacturers requirements of your Original Equipment (OE) tires. Tire manufacturers work closely with car manufacturers to provide OE tires that match the performance capabilities of the vehicle. What does this mean? For example, you drive a mid sized sedan and the original tires have a specific speed rating (H) and load index (91). You need to make sure your new tires come with ratings that are equal to or greater than what was provided when the car was purchased new. These and other tire ratings are important because they ensure your tires for sale are able to withstand the stressors they will endure when driven under conditions expected. To learn more about tire ratings visit our guide on Next Tires.

#2 Performance

How will you be driving on your new wheels and tires? As you investigate larger tire sizes you’ll want to consider performance characteristics. What are they and why are they important? Tire performance characteristics include but aren’t limited to Noise, Tread Wear, Comfort, Handling and Fuel Efficiency. Why are the performance characteristics so important? As tire manufacturers, such as BFGoodrich, Toyo, Nitto, Pirelli and Michelin, improve the technologies they include in their tires, there are performance trade offs. For example, high performance tires, designed to have improved handling, aren’t necessarily going to have the tread wear life or fuel efficiency ratings of touring tires. By choosing the right combination of performance characteristics you increase your comfort and confidence when driving.

In addition to performance you’ll need to consider what the following things regarding the difference in size:

  • A larger diameter wheel and tire usually means a wider tire. While this creates a wider contact patch (improved handling), the tire is slightly more susceptible to hydroplaning on wet surfaces because the tire is now squarer and less round.
  • Curb Damage: A wider tire can also be something that is difficult to get used to, depending on how long you had your previous set of wheels and tires. Take note that your tire is wider so you’ll need to be more aware of scraping curbs when parking.
  • Sidewall: Often, larger wheel and tire combinations mean smaller or shorter sidewalls. While this can be great for shoring up the entire tire (stability) and improving handling, you’ll want to consider the impact of road and driving comfort. The sidewall serves as a shock absorber for road conditions. A smaller sidewall reduces this shock absorption and increases the feel of road conditions, often times uncomfortably. A smaller sidewall also reduces the amount of protection the wheel has between it and the road. Potholes, bumps and other road obstructions are more likely to cause damage to the rim, something a larger sidewall can help protect against.

#3 Climate and Road Conditions

Lastly, but certainly not least, you must consider the climate and road conditions. The climates in Phoenix and Philadelphia are different. The road conditions in the mountains of West Virginia are different from the highways in Seattle. Summer tires, winter tires, all-season tires and even all terrain tires all have unique characteristics that are suitable for particular surfaces, under varying conditions. A summer tire is designed for surfaces that endure consistently warmer temperatures, while a winter tire is designed for areas that see light to moderate snowfall and where roads endure chill factors near or below freezing. All season tires are best suited for areas that see all four seasons but in moderation. Many states, where snowfall can be severe, are requiring a separate set of snow tires specifically for the months between November and April. If you’re doing trail and highway driving you may need to consider an all terrain tire but that won’t do you much good if your commute is primarily freeway driving. Factoring in climate and road conditions are important to ensure your vehicle’s new tires remain firmly planted on the road, thus delivering you and your passengers safely to your destination.

While there are numerous factors to consider when “upsizing” your tires the areas we discussed today are three areas that should not be overlooked. In review we want to consider the following items. (1) Replace your Original Equipment tires with tires that have equal or greater tire ratings. (2) Choose performance characteristics that ensure your comfort when driving, whether that’s handling, tread life or road noise. A comfortable ride goes a long way to ensuring your safety. And lastly, (3) the climate and road conditions where you live are important because you always want to make sure your vehicle’s four tires are designed to remain firmly planted on the road at all times.

Thank you for taking the time to read this Next Tires blog. If you need assistance with finding the right tires for your vehicle, please call our support team at 1-800-360-5459 or email us at support@nexttires.com.