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How does rim size affect driving?

Big rims on a sedan are one of the quickest and most evident ways to show that you can throw money at your car. Going from regular 15 inch rims to 19 inchers may make you feel like your stock car is a big boy now! After all, some higher performance tires such as those for sport or for racing are only available in for larger rims. With bigger rims and a narrower tire sidewall, you can show off the beautiful magnesium patterns of your car even more.

Big rims, though, usually come at a price. Included there, of course, is the skyrocketing cost of new rims. Those hunks of magnesium aren’t cheap! You will also need to buy new tires to match the size of your rims, and that’s a whole other world of expenses.

I’d like to further look into how larger rim sizes affect driving. There are a few good things but the prevailing advice is to stick to smaller rims if you’re a casual driver who spends most driving in the city. Larger rims are heavier and as a general rule, more weight means greater fuel consumption. Coming into play here is the concept of torque. Generally, it will take more energy to spin a larger diameter. You immediately have two sources of extra load that your car needs to carry. You can lose as much as 10% of your fuel consumption with smaller rims due to the wheel change and a decrease in acceleration.

Since larger rims means less tire sidewall, the cushioning effect of fatter tires will be absent. This constitutes to a rougher ride. On the flipside, larger rim diameters often come with increased width. This means that there is more contact area for your tires with the ground, and therefore more grip. This is why larger rims are advisable for drift or race purposes.

A suspension upgrade is recommended after all of these. You will want to upgrade your shocks, struts, springs (or if you can, invest in coilovers!) to compensate for the rougher, more grounded ride.

Larger rims are definitely an investment you have to think about with great intent. I know, nothing spells c-o-o-l than gold BBS rims on your car, but do know that it is an expensive route. Nonetheless, the reward awaits for those desiring a more spirited drive and another world of adventure.


This is a friendly Acom reminder to always plan your auto investments and do your research before any big upgrade!