16 inch or 17 inch wheels

I am shopping for a new car, and it seems as if everyone is pushing those 17 inch rims with the teeny tires.

I have always assumed that the larger rims/smaller tires would be more subject to pothole damage, and would give a harsher ride. I also think that it has sort of a "ghetto’ look to it, which I neither need nor want.

Is there any good information available as to the pros and cons of the bigger rim/smaller sidewall vs. a smaller rim/larger sidewall?

Larger wheels with shorter tires (compared to the same overall tire diameter with a smaller wheel) have two benefits. They handle better (because of less sidewall flex) and most people think they look better.

Im with you, theyre not worth it. They are indeed more susceptible to damage from bad roads. They give a harsher ride. And both the wheels and tires are more expensive.

I would stick with the standard 16" wheels/tires. You’d have to be an experienced race car driver to detect the handling difference (if any) with the 17" combo, plus the larger the wheel diameter, the more expensive it is to replace tires.

All the negatives you listed in your post are true.

Overall, I do agree with “Anonymous”. However, on some cars (the Hyundai Azera for example), the ride remains quite good. In fact, the only criticism that I have read of the Azera is that it is very “Buick-like” in its handling and ride. Apparently Hyundai’s engineers have been able to overcome the 17 inch wheel-equipped car’s tendency toward a rough ride by trading off some firmness in the suspension, albeit at the cost of handling.

I do agree that the growing trend toward 17" wheels is mostly pandering to the ghetto-oriented youth market, and that it lacks practicality overall. But, on the other hand, the Azera appears to be an outstanding value–sort of an Avalon for the price of a well-equipped Camry. Throw in that long warranty coverage, and it is definitely a car to contemplate for purchase as long as one is not looking for sportscar-like handling.

My consulant, Max, agrees with me on this point. The OP will understand this comment, I believe.


On a given car, 17" wheels with lower profile tires will ride slightly firmer and handle slightly more stable, however my '05 tC with its 17" wheels and 215x45 tires rides FAR, FAR better than my '05 Corolla did with its smaller wheels and larger profile tires. In a new car, the spring and shock rates are designed to accomodate the ride of the tire/wheel combinations. I’d really sugest that you need to test drive the cars to see which feels better.

Tires with a profile (technically called an “aspect ratio”) of less than 70 will, however, be more expensive.

www.carbibles.com has great info on tires and eheels.

  • mountainbike

We presently have three cars; one with 13", 14" and 15" wheels. The car with the 13" wheels handles the best. Of all of the cars that we have ever owned, the best handling car was a 1970s era Opel with 13" wheels. The suspension design, in my view, has a far greater impact on handling than tire size. Get the tire size that will cost less to replace. Larger wheels are good for eyewash and not much else.

It’s not the size of the wheels, it’s the size of the tire sidewalls. Old Mini Coopers had (and still have) incredible handling, and they had 10" wheels.

If you take one car, NOT three different ones, and you try different wheel/tire size combos on it, you will get better handling with the larger wheels. Why? Because in order to keep the speedometer accurate, when you increase the size of the wheels, you have to decrease the height of the tire sidewall. When you do that, the shorter sidewall will flex less, which means you get better handling.

comparing 3 different cars and saying the car with the smaller wheels handles better and therefore wheel size doesn’t matter simply doesn’t make sense. Sure, my CRX with the 13" rims will handle better than a semi with 21" wheels, but that’s not really a function of the wheel size, is it?

But my “good” CRX with 15" wheels handles much better than the winter one with 13" wheels, and they both have the exact same suspension.

There are clearly still some bugs in this newly designed site. When my post (above) first appeared, it was formatted properly. Now, a couple of hours later, the formatting has changed and it is now one paragraph, rather than three, and the bold font has disappeared.