When shopping for a new set of tires for your vehicle, one can’t help but be tempted to choose a wider set instead of sticking with the car manufacturer’s recommended size. And why not? After all, tires greatly add to the looks of your car.
From an aesthetic point of view, wider tires always look better. In fact, high-performance cars always use wider tires, so the general perception is that they must offer better performance.
Upsizing to wider tires might seem like a simple upgrade, but you might want to think twice before doing that. This is because there are certain pitfalls with any changes you make. The car manufacturers’ recommended size has been thoroughly researched through extensive trial and error to yield the most optimal performance for your car. Keep in mind that although wider tires offer certain advantages, they also come with disadvantages. So before you decide on getting that wide-spec tire, let’s go over some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a wider tire so you can decide better.
Wider tire advantages
- Better braking
- Better handling
- Improved looks
Wider tire disadvantages
- Higher rolling resistance
- Increased fuel consumption
- More expensive
Theoretically, wider tires will improve braking capabilities due to the increased contact patch (surface area of contact with the ground). But this requires a more powerful brake system (aftermarket calipers and bigger rotors) than stock. Otherwise, the increased rotational mass of the wider tires will only make braking a bit harder for the stock calipers and rotors.
Racecars use wider tires for extreme levels of grip to enable them to take a corner at high speeds. Larger tires have better maneuverability and cornering due to their wider tread and stiffer sidewalls. On dry pavement, a slight increase in the tire’s width should be able to offer a slight improvement in handling, but that should be very minimal and must be on the limit to see any noticeable gains.
Fitting wider tires is one of the most effective ways of improving the looks of any car. They make the car look more performance-oriented, Not to mention that it’s probably the first thing that people notice about a car.
Higher rolling resistance
Whether it’s upgrading to wider tires or bigger diameter wheels, the most significant effect is the increased rolling resistance. What this means is that this will cause an additional load on the engine. Not unless you have a powerful car that needs the extra grip, wider tires won’t do much good.
Increased fuel consumption
It’s simple, really; higher rolling resistance will add more load to the engine, which in turn will equate to increased fuel consumption.
Being larger and heavier, they also cost more to develop and manufacture, not to mention ship. If money is not a problem for you, then you can just dismiss this disadvantage.
Buying the right type of tire is a confusing case between style and practicality, so you can’t really have your cake and eat it too. The best thing to do here would be to find the combination that will offer optimal performance and enhanced looks.
Just keep in mind that the benefits of using wider tires can mostly be felt with a powerful car, when driving in perfect weather, and when pushed to the limits on a racing track. There is also the appeal of better aesthetics, but this is a subjective matter.
There are basically no practical benefits for daily driving, especially if you’re driving an underpowered econobox.
But, to each his own.