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Car Advice & Reviews

Wheel and Tire Options

Posted on January 2, 2013

Many manufacturers and car dealers often encourage buyers to upgrade to larger diameter wheels and tires. Sometimes wheel/tire upgrades are stand-alone options, other times they are included in uplevel trim levels or option packages (most commonly sports suspensions). Should you opt for a bigger wheel /tire package? On the plus side, many customers prefer the look of bigger wheels and the lower profile tires fitted to bigger wheels can improve steering feel / response and handling. But bigger wheel/tire packages have their negatives as well. Aside from the upfront cost at the time of the car purchase, larger tires are more expensive to replace than smaller tires (sometimes costing 2x as much for the same model). This is compounded by the fact that wheel/tire upgrades often include more performance-oriented tires, or in some cases “summer” tires, which wear much more quickly than do standard all-season tires. Also, “summer” tires, as the name implies are not meant for use in cold, wet conditions; they are downright dangerous in ice, sleet and snow. Any car logging time in northern / mountain climbs will need a separate pair of all-season / winter tires for the winter months. Bigger wheel/tire packages, and their use of low-profile tires, also means that there is less room for the tire to absorb bumps and potholes, meaning that the car’s ride quality will degrade and the wheel will be exposed to damage from potholes. As may of us know, American roads are only getting worst in the face of shrining government budgets, and certain wheel/tire packages will guarantee trips to the dealer for expensive replacement wheels on account of pothole damage. Car Match will advise you in its reports as to which model’s wheel/tire upgrades provide meaningful benefits and where they should be avoided for the reasons discussed above.

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