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Will Narrower Tires With Taller Sidewalls Return, To Improve Fuel Economy?



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    Like most things in the automotive world, it's all about balance. Bigger isn't always better, but neither is smaller. Every car out there has a size that's "just right" for it, and naturally it's going to vary from car to car.

    I remember when most generic family cars back in the day came with a 75-series radial standard. For instance, the 195/75/R15's on my 1980 Malibu, or the 205/75/R15's on my grandmother's '85 LeSabre. My old '69 Dart had bias-ply tires that roughly equated to a 195/75/R14. With cars like this, it seemed like going down to a 70-series, but bumping up one, maybe two tread width sizes was all it really took to improve these cars' handling considerably, with little loss in comfort. But going down to a 65 or 60-series tire would just make it ride rougher without giving you any better handling. As for tread width, go too wide, and those tires will get downright scary in wet weather!
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,459
    which do you think has more tire patch? a 255 winter tire, or a 215 slick tire? :surprise:
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    Do you want to dig down to the pavement and skid or float on top of the snow and skid? :shades:
  • Karen@EdmundsKaren@Edmunds Posts: 5,023
    A reporter from a large national newspaper is looking to speak to consumers who is delaying purchasing new tires or purchased cheaper tires because of the economy. If you’re interested in speaking to the reporter, please contact Chintan Talati at with your daytime contact information no later than June 25, 2008.

    Karen-Edmunds Community Manager

  • wwwonewwwone Posts: 4
    Hi, I need expert advice please if you can. My car is a 5 speed stick. It seems to be geared a bit low - as I knew before I bought it - and as a result it's in top gear in no time. It could benefit from a 6th gear to drop the RPM and increase the MPG but it doesn't therefore I am trying to lower my final gear ratio via taller tires. I'm thinking I'd like to find a tire that fits my factory rims and fits reasonably well in my wheel wells. The current tires are Kuhmo 722's and they are ready for replacement. The spec on Kuhmos sized tires indicate they turn approximately 915 Revs Per Mile. I believe the factory rims are 14 x 5.5". Taller tires such as 65, 70, 75, 80, etc reduce the Revs Per Mile proportionally. I'd like to determine what is the TALLEST tire I can go with that will fit reasonably well without to much rubbing. I realize it will throw my speedo off but I am willing to accept that (I can use a GPS to determine the appropriate delta). The car has 21k on it and is generally used for light load commuting. The car is a 2009 Chevy Aveo LS 4 door sedan that we bought new really cheaply and things are very tight and we couldn't pass it up. For us it works. In warm weather I get mid to high 30's (34-38). In cold weather I get low to mid 30's (32-36). It has only one driver and I drive it sensibly. Thanks in advance for your advice!
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    Try the Tires, tires, tires discussion too.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    I wouldn't go up to more than 165s, from the stock 160s, and then only if your current wheels accommodated that. The improvement in MPG and reduction in RPMs would be minimal, but in the direction you want. I'd accept a compromise, rather than a more radical departure from what the engineers who designed your car specified.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,459
    There are low rolling resistance which may provide the the same or similar benefit as changing to a narrower or taller tire.
  • samm43samm43 Posts: 195
    I wouldn't be surprised if VW carried over the taller 15" wheels from the days of war and poor roads. The bigger wheels did not get stuck as easily and they ride better.

    I do not like the direction the market has taken us with lower and lower profiles on taller wheels. So often we buy cars from manufacturers that insult our intelligence on a regular basis. They see a young man wearing his baseball cap sideways or backwards that has blinged out his Civic with tall wheels and lowered suspension, and the next thing you know they assume that's what the whole nation wants. The same could be said for the number of transmission gears race that is taking place lately. There is no need for 7 and 8 speeds and in many applications, even 6.

    As for the big wheels, hopefully it will be sooner than later that that fad wears off. The advantages of lower fuel consumption, more acceleration, longer tire life, less cost, easier balancing and better ride are all right there for waiting. Are you listening, Manufacturers?

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    edited March 2011
    W-w-what? You mean this ISN'T this average car buyer?


    I recall seeing an ad for the 1940 Plymouth offering 20" wheels marketed to rural customers to compensate for poor road conditions.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,012
    I'll gladly bid them a fond adieu also!
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    If you are disappointed in your run-flat tires and/or wish that your car had a spare tire, please email no later than Wednesday, June 15, 2011 and be sure to include your city/state of residence and a few comments on the subject.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    An Edmunds staffer just told me that 26% of new cars don't come with spare tires. I guess roadside service and "tire mobility kits" are all the rage now.

    How much does a tire and rim weigh?

    Now multiply that by thousands, and that's a lot of gas saved by lightening the load in the trunk.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,459
    From what I have read, which could be completely off base, the spare in the well in the trunk was part of controlling the crush, if rear ended.
    If the back of the vehicle is designed to control the impact without adding a lot of weight, it probably is easier to justify the 'tire mobility kit'.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    I suppose most people use their cell for their mobility kit and even skip the Slime, but around here (and around places I like to visit), cell service is pretty spotty so a spare is nice to have.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,459
    Hope I don't jinx myself, but it's been a long time since I had an immediate tire problem.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    Me too (probably two years or more, and that's a long time for me). Better go check the spares and make sure they have air.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    I wouldn't buy a car with run-flats, and having no spare would be a significant strike against any model I was considering buying.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    I agree. No BMWs for us, then.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    How much does a tire and rim weigh?

    A couple years ago, I stepped on the scale with one of the wheels I had taken off my '79 New Yorker. I think it was around 53 pounds. That was for a 15x7 copcar wheel with a 235/70/R15 tire on it.

    I'd guess most compact spares are around 25-30 lb? I actually put a compact spare in my '79 New Yorker, not for the weight savings, but for increased trunk space. The full-sized spare was mounted far forward and to the left, and took a lot of space, while the compact spare could actually stand up on its side, tucked in by the rear quarter panel on the passenger side.
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