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How does wheel size affect my car and driving?

Bigger isn’t always better.

Image: Shutterstock

WHEEL SIZE NOT only affects a car’s performance but it also has an impact on noise levels, comfort and fuel economy.

As tyre sidewall height decreases, performance tends to get sharper and handling usually improves too. Lap times also seem to improve but not massively so.

However, when it comes to NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) smaller rims are usually more quieter and less harsh than larger wheels. But this can all depend on the brand and type of tyre you put on your car too.

Larger wheels can impact on ride quality making for a skittish, more thrashy driving experience. Smaller wheels on the other hand usually make a car feel more comfortable especially when it comes to driving over potholes and rougher road surfaces.

If you are thinking of pimping out your ride by adding massive alloys just be warned that the bigger the wheel the bigger the tyres and therefore the higher the rolling resistance. The more something resists, the more energy is needed to move it. Therefore you are going to burn more fuel to move your car. Also, larger tyres weigh more so this too will also negatively affect fuel consumption.

So, if you are thinking about switching tyre size you should really think about what it is you want to get out of your tyres. If you want to improve handling and performance maybe you should upsize your wheels. On the other hand, if you want to improve noise and comfort and fuel economy you could look at putting on smaller wheels.

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However, sometimes just changing tyre brand and type will improve these areas without having to change size. Tyres are manufactured with these various requirements in mind and you can search online to find the right tyre type for you.

Also, be careful how wheel size affects the aesthetics of your car. There is nothing worse, IMHO, than an under-wheeled vehicle where the wheels don’t fill out the wheel arches. Properly filled arches can really make a car look stunning whereas wheels that are too small can really hurt a car’s looks.

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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