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Are Larger Wheels and Tires a Waste of Money?



  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,746
    I don't remember if it was car and driver or Edmunds that bought the wheel and tire upgrade for the origional WRX to get some reasonable increase in handling. I seem to remember it was a $1800.00 to $2400.00 upgrade or something but it did increase the slalom speed of the WRX by quite a bit. But then if you go all the way to the WRX STI RA-R it already comes with lightweight 18s and low profile 235x40 Bridgestones.
  • urnewsurnews Posts: 668
    So I pose the question - how prudent are 17-18-19 inch wheels and low profile, high performance tires on a family sedan?

    Our MSRP $27,105 2007 SEL AWD Fusion came "standard" with P225/50R/17 Michelin tires and I am already dreading the day when I will have to replace them. The base S Fusion comes with 16-inch 60-series tires, which I believe would ride better but not handle as well.

    As to "how prudent," the answer is "not very," but high performance tires seem to be the trend (probably a conspiracy with the tire manufacturers to sell more tires since they don't last very long either, in addition to being more expensive).
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 6,229
    That was a great article. Spot on.

    It seems then that the original question: "Are larger wheels and tire a waste of money" was half right. The wheels make minimal difference but the tires can enhance handling quite a bit.

    I wonder if that stabilizer bar trick would work on some of these FWD cars that understeer? Why don't he car companies put them on as standard equipment?

    2009 PT Cruiser, 2008 Eclipse, 1995 Mark VIII, 1988 GMC Van

  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    Of course, there's the $$. One other reason is that understeer = stable, seems like they want nothing unusual for most drivers to deal with.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    One of the reasons you might not notice a big difference with a tire upgrade on a "high end" car is that the high end cars have as a rule much better suspensions. You can get great g ratings on just about any car on a flat smooth track but in complex road conditions just having better tires won't give you "high end" handling.


  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I think I agree with your point. But one thing is for sure, using high performance tires on a car with a low performance suspension is a formula for pissing money away for minimal benefit.

    Case in point, the original Lexus GS400, when it first came out. Lexus offered an upgraded 17" wheel and high performance tire option. Friend of mine bought one. At 5,000 miles, the tires were already showing excessive wear. At 8,000 miles, Lexus refunded his option price and gave him a set of the standard rims and tires. The probelm was the Buick like suspensions Lexus used resulted in the body roll of a typical Camry. The high performance tires were wearing out dispropotionally on the inside and outside edges due to the body roll.

    The lesson is - if you want a good handling car, start by buying one with a good suspension. Then put on high performance tires if you want even more performance. But there isn't enough rubber in a Pirelli factory to turn a Lexus into a BMW.

    P.S. That friend of mine that went through a set of 17" tires on the Lexus GS400 in 8,000 miles ended up trading it on a BMW 545i a couple of years later. With the sport package and staggered wheels (can't be rotated), he got 20,000 to 25,000 miles out of the even higher performance softer compound tires. (i.e. because the BMW didn't come standard with that wonderful Lexus body roll and the tires were held flat to the ground by the BMW sport suspension).
  • dave8697dave8697 Posts: 1,498
    how is the icy road traction affected by low profile tires?
    My 16" 60 series are fine on a FWD car. The same size tires are pretty questionable on my RWD Mustang. I have to drive long distances on dark, snowy and icy, narrow roads in the winter.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    The profile itself doesn't matter too much. What does matter is that most if not all low (sub-50) profile tires are for summer use only, and they don't have the tread patterns or rubber compounds for all-season or heavy winter driving. Mustangs and most other RWD vehicles without good stability and traction control systems really need dedicated winter tires to handle anything more than a dusting of snow.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    Like bumpy said, plus your Mustang has much less weight over the wheels than any FWD car, further reducing traction. Get a set of snows from Tire Rack or Discount tire (15"s on rims, if they fit/$$ work). But they may be out by now.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,746
    Tires are all that low profile. The stock tire on my ZTS was a 70 series. The stock tire on my old Camaro was a 60 series. What most people consider low profile tires most often start with 50 series. I have seen DUBs with 30 series. But then like it was said they don't come as a M&S. The advantages are simple, if the car is set up for it the tires don't roll on the rim in hard corners. But they also wear faster.

    Big rims do have a look that dresses up the car but they make for a harsher ride. I don't know if they are a waste of money if looks are what the driver wants. If how a car looks wasn't important to some there would be so many after market parts stores and custom paint shops.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 6,229
    " is icy road traction affected by low profile tires..."

    My "sporty coupe" came with 235/45R18 all season tires. Since it's a new car I haven't taken it out on our salty roads yet. Others who have the same car say it handles very well in the snow. Of course mine is a FWD which may mean nothing if you drive a RWD.

    2009 PT Cruiser, 2008 Eclipse, 1995 Mark VIII, 1988 GMC Van

  • warhubwarhub Posts: 13
    I'm purchasing a 2008 VW GLI. The car comes with 17" all-season 225/45R17 inch tires. There is an option to put 225/40R18 wheels and tires on the car for about $11 more per month on a 36-month lease. I'm not concerned about the $11 a month, but rather the possibility of significantly more tires bubbling, blowing up or wheels getting destroyed. I live in NY and travel mostly in the 'burbs, making the occasional (once a month) trip into NYC. There are still some potholes around to be sure, but nothing like the Bronx! If I went with the 18" it's solely because I like how they look. I'm sure the ride of the 18's is only negligibly "sportier," and I've been told that the snow traction should be about the same as the 17's given that the tires are the same manufacturer and are identical in tread type. Would I be a fool to buy the 18's? Am I destined to go through a significantly greater number of tires and possibly scuffed wheels or is the difference only going to be marginal. Again, I really like how the 18" wheels look, but I'm not going to do it if it's truly stupid in the wallet. :confuse:
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    If you weren't liking the looks of the 18s so much, I'd say go with the 17s, because you could get good performance rubber in the 17's size, but if you really like the 18s look, go for it. Only thing to check is friends/acquaintences with low profile tires, see what they say.

    edit - only other concern is if you expect to loan the car out. No one will be as careful as you, and they will find every pot hole and curb in town!
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Ah, New York. Love the city, but it's tough on cars. I'd get the 17s.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 14,705
    A real leveler would be cost per mile driven.

    For your standard tires example it is $750/35,000 miles=

    $ .0214285 cents.

    sport tires $1,400/15,000=

    $.0933333 cents

    $ .09333 - $ .0214285= $ .07190/ $ .09333=

    77% more per mile driven. If you are used to spending $ .0214285 why would you want to spend 4.355 TIMES MORE?

    So using 185/70/14 tires with most of the mileage in a plain jane everyday commute, I got 74,300 miles from oem tires. Replacement costs are a@ $ 49. per tire and $ 60. for removal, disposal, new valves, mount, balance or $ 256/ 74,300 miles =.0034454. The math indicates an almost obscene difference. I LOVE the MB E350, but the math is far too overwhelming to ignore, especially for commuting.

    What do you think will happen when you curb a (probably forged, AKA even BIGGER BUX) exotic rim vs say the steel one used with the 185/70/14 tires? I can probably say that tops, the steel one will cost $50 and that is Fed Ex'd to the front door.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 14,705
    While I do not haunt car magazines, I very rarely see before and after testing with the performance parameters neatly laid out. (for the purposes of this discussion before and after larger wheels and tires etc,) . The closest I have seen are www.tire 's testing the variables they are usually testing for: SAME SIZED in the SAME category tire brands.

    The sense I have is larger sizes in addition to the discussed higher acquisition costs, hit performance: ie.,LOWER mpg, stopping distance, hp at the wheels, ride compliance/comfort etc. So it would seem defining the purposes and then seeing if the engineering adaptation makes sense is the first order of business in the "upgrade" Indeed given the original example of oem engineered upgrades, there is STILL no definitive testing/comparison.
  • karsickkarsick Posts: 312

    (too bad I didn't catch it earlier)

    Somebody REALLY needs to tell those retarded McLaren & Ferrari Formula One engineers that they need to replace their silly, ineffective balloon-like tires & wheels with some Stylin' Fo-shizzle Chromey DubDeuces (spinnazzzz preferably) and micro-sidewall 20-series lo-pros.

    Seriously, for anyone with a logical bone in their head, there is a diminishing return with ever-increasing wheel size, and most carmakers have crossed that line.

    For the same $$$ you would have spent on frequent mega-dollar re-tires, I'm convinced you could get the world's strongest & lightest forged alloys in a modest 15"-16" size, a set of dedicated track & ice tires, along with a WRC-worthy Ohlins or DMS suspension setup.

    With a proper set-up of lightweight, reasonable-size running stock, you could run RINGS around the guy with the cheeeeezy dubs, and even laugh at bad pavement along the way.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    These huge tires are a total waste of money unless you're in it for styling. They cost a fortune, wear out more quickly, ride harsher and tend to do worse in wet or snow conditions. Interestingly though, Toyota seems to be getting big into these big wheels as in Highlander and Venza.
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