How Does Wheel Size Affect Car Performance?

The wheel size has a great aesthetic appeal. But do you know that these wheel sizes affect car performances as well?

Maybe you are reading this article because you want to upgrade your wheel size, or maybe you just want to know. No matter why you are reading this article, let me tell you that upgrading the wheel is an important decision. Why?

Because it will not only change the look or performance but also it will change the comfort as well as the noise of your car. So how does wheel size affect car performance?


Well, let’s see. But before starting the article, I want to mention a thing that I will use the word ‘wheel’ to refer all of the components of this important part of your car. This includes the rim, tire, bolts, and other features such as sidewall, thickness, tread, and others. That means in a very simple way, wheel means wheel.

We will explain with a practical example. First of all, you have taken feat 500 185/55 R15 size tire. Before going to the main part, let’s have a look at the numbers.

What do the numbers mean? The first 185 means that the tire width is 185 mm. the second 55 means that the sidewall of the wall is 55% of the width. The R represents that the tire has radial internal construction.

And lastly, the 15 indicates that it is the diameter of the rim in inches. Now, if we want to measure the total diameter of the wheel then we should follow this formula.

2x((tire width x the sidewall height)/100) + (the diameter of the rim) mm (we will measure everything in mm)

So, 2x((185×55)/100) + 381        [15 inches=381 mm]

= 584.5mm

So, our result is 584.5. That means the precise width of our tire is 584.5 mm.

Maybe you are thinking why am I providing you this kind of information? Right? But trust me, if you don’t understand the equation, you will not understand how this size affects the performance of your car.

So, let’s back to the main discussion.

When car engineers design the wheel, they design it in such a way that can fit well on the given vehicle and at the same time adjust the ratio of the transmission as a consequence. By the way of comparison, we can consider the total diameter of the wheel as the length of the ultimate reduction proportion of transmission.

That means when the total diameter of the wheel increases, the length of the ultimate reduction ration increases as well. This has 2 consequences. One is that the acceleration potential will decrease and the other one is that you can achieve maximum top speed.

This is the obvious change. Whenever you change the tire size, these changes will happen for sure even if you have changes the wheel in 2 mm.

In addition, there is another consequence you need to know. Whenever you increase the size of your wheel, the total axle weight will also increase as a whole. And this will enhance the inertia because of the accuracy of lower cornering and further acceleration loss.

Moreover, the car behavior can also change. When you change the diameter of the wheel, as a consequence, the center of gravity, as well as chassis height, will change as well along with the direct impact of changing oscillation and roll.


There will be another change of the tread width also. After all, a larger width of the wheel will contribute to enhancing the fraction. This is certainly a positive effect since this will develop the road holding. However, the rolling resistance can be increased at the same time.

So as you can see, a simple change in the size of the wheel can change a lot of things in your car. Whether it is convenient for you or not. If you want to increase your car top speed then it will be a good decision to change the tire size. A millimetre of change in tire size will imply a major difference.

Lastly, you need to remember that a change in tire size will affect the speedometer readout. The reason is that this device is set as well as type-approved for only the original tires. Now, finally, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of changing the size of the tires.

–   If you increase the tire size, this will improve the car stability and this will also shorten the braking distance range.

–   The larger diameter of wheel means heavier wheel. As a result, you have to compromise the speed during the acceleration.

–   You have to compromise your comfort as well. The reason is that the tire will be harder.

–   A larger wheel will also affect the consumption of the fuel. Since your driving will be slightly slower, your car mileage will improve, however, based on the power of your car, you will not probably perceive it simply.

–   The smaller the wheels, the tighter the turns.

–   Rather than the standard diameter of the tire, an enhanced diameter will improve the stiffness and thus will improve the safety, however, this depends on the type of the vehicle tires are installed on.

–   A larger wheel will improve the loading capacity of the car.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a simple change in tire sizes can change a lot of things in your car. This can change the aesthetic look, loading capacity, top speed, control, and many other things. So depending on your need, you can choose you to need to change the tire size or not. So think wisely, and take a decision. I hope this article will help you to understand the changes the tire size brings.

The Grabbable wants you to know that we already have a review article about the best off-road wheels and rims packages as well. Share it with your friends and family if they need it.

Stay tuned to know more about automotive and gears at thegrabbable.com. cheers!

4.7/5 - (15 votes)
Henry Smith

Smith is passionate regarding all matters about automotive and prefers to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all sorts of automotive accessories. Before joining The Grabbable, he spent the better part of two decades as an automotive writer, reporter, and editor for various publications.

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