For some car owners, swapping out stock wheels and tires is a desirable way to upgrade the look and performance of their vehicle. Despite the benefits, however, there are also downsides, particularly if you invest in the wrong custom wheels and tires. Here’s what you need to know beforehand.
A Guide to Custom Wheel & Tire Selection
1. Understand the Meaning of Tire Codes
All tires come with a string of letters and numbers on their sides, providing crucial information about the rubber itself. While the codes differ depending on the manufacturer, they normally detail section width, aspect ratio, construction, and rim size. Section width pertains to the overall width of the tire in millimeters when mounted. Meanwhile, the aspect ratio is the proportion of sidewall height to section width—a ratio of 50 means the tire’s half as tall as it is wide.
As for construction types, there are two kinds: R for radial-ply and D for diagonal, often used on larger vehicles. Lastly, rim size pertains to the interior diameter in inches. A 16-inch tire is primarily designed to fit custom wheels of the same size.
2. Plus or Minus
Once you’ve got the basics down, keep in mind that any adjustments on tire and wheel measurements will have an impact on each other. For instance, a wider rim size or larger custom wheel can fit a tire with thinner or shorter sidewalls. Switching out your wheelset for a bigger one is called plus-sizing, and the reverse is known as a minus-sizing. It’s generally safer to go up or down by only an inch from your stock set—anything more can have adverse effects on your brakes and suspension.
3. Size Matters
Whenever you change the wheels and tires from the original setup, know that you’re making compromises in between. Plus-sizing makes for a sportier look, better grip on the road, and improved stability, but at the price of a rougher ride. And because the rims are closer to the curb, bumps, and potholes, the wheel gets damaged faster as well.
If you decide to go down a notch on wheel size for taller sidewalls, expect to have a more comfortable ride quality, especially if the suspension has been retuned. However, there’s less grip and traction on the road. Be sure to double-check the ideal wheel-tire combo first to know whether you’re getting the right one.
When you need help finding the right custom wheels and tires for your ride, drop by Cookeville Tire & Auto in Cookeville, TN. Serving motorists in and around Putnam County, their auto repair experts provide a range of services, including brake installation and engine diagnostics as well as suspension and transmission repairs. Call (931) 526-9022 or visit them online for more information on their two-year warranty on parts and labor.