There have been times where I have stretched the size boundaries of the tires which I have used on my four wheel drive vehicles, and there is a lot to be said for making them the same size as what the factory had installed on the car in the first place.
Unless you intend to modify other suspension components then it is usually wise to keep the same size tires on your car, truck, or SUV as those that it shipped with. The reasons for this are many, but safety and performance are easily the top two. Some drivers here in northeast Ohio will typically decide to go up in size on their SUV or four wheel drive cars and trucks in order to make the vehicle more adept at getting through snow and ice in the winter. The trick is to make sure you do not go too large without changing other suspension components.
If you do go larger you will notice that the car rides differently and there is a chance you will experience some rubbing when you turn the wheel fully. This can be limited by adjusting the stop limit bolt on your suspension. These can be in a number of places but try looking just behind the knuckle on the front or rear of the yoke where the brake rotor and wheel hub are. Typically where the knuckle comes close to the axle. If unsure you can talk with the technician at the dealership where you bought th car and ask them.
If you go smaller then the car will sit lower and your fuel economy will suffer. The speedometer will tell you that you are going a little faster than you really are so make sure to check the speed against a known distance at a given speed. You can use your GPS tool for this as well.
Larger tires will cause more stress on your drive components and you may go through shocks, brakes, and u-joints more frequently than if you stayed with normal size tires. There is a maximum size that every rim is able to handle and the tire sales person and installer will have a chart just for this. Ask them for this information or go on line to look for a tire and rim size calculator such as this one from “Tire Rack”
There is a simple tire size formula here that is really easy to understand once you are exposed to the math of it all. Your sidewall will show a series of numbers that look like this: 205 75R 15, or 185 65R 16. In very basic terms the first number represents the width of your tread in millimeters, the second is the height of the sidewall in millimeters, and the third is the rim size in Inches.
Therefore if you have a 15 inch rim then this will only fit 15 inch tires. You cannot put 16 inch tires on this rim. Now if your car has a 235 70R 15 you can possibly go to a 195 70R 15 which may save you some money when buying new tires. The tread will be narrower and your weight rating may drop as well. Your best bet is to try and stay within one or two tire sizes from your original size.
The point is you are not always stuck with the tire size that came with your car. It is likely your model had optional tires and rims that will fit it, and you can find these either in the classifieds in your local paper or even at an auto recycling yard. Many times a car is scrapped that still has good tires on it and these guys can make you a good deal on them. The one by us called “Route 306 Auto Parts and Wrecking” even has a tire changing machine.
One of the main reasons this tire issue is important is that plenty of us are riding on old tires and the cost of new can be too high. In some cases you can save some money using a different size tire especially if it is recycled from the auto yard or if you can purchase used. Also new tires that are smaller sizes can usually be a lot less costly.
This article comes from personal knowledge and experience.
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