16 or 18 in wheels

I am considering a Honda Element–the EX or SC.

What difference will the wheel size have on ride, handling, etc.?

All things being equal, is the wheel size a defining issue?

Three factors:

  • Looks, I like the more normal 16" look, but they are not for my car.

  • Ride and handling, more precise feel and maybe ever better grip. It will also be harsher. Some people like soft some like hard. I suggest test driving each and decide that for yourself.

  • The 18 in wheels will have tyres that will likely cost more and due to the thinner tyres, they will be more likley to be damaged if yuo hit a pot hole or other road hazard. Other than the very expensive (thousands of dollars per wheel) they are not as strong as standard steel wheels

    I don’t see how wheel size could be a definint issue since you can change them after the fact.

    All things considered, the defining issues is What do you like!

If you get the 18" wheels expect them to fail becuase of the thin sidewall on the tire. My wife’s Nissan Maxima currently has three bent 18" rims. Very expensive to replace the rims and the tires are costly as well.

Agree, go with 16". some guy I know had 18" on his civic. I worked with him for 4 months, his rims were in the shop the entire time because of pot holes etc. I never actually saw them on his car. So then my question is what is the point of having such large rims if they are in the shop all that time?

Before you decide…go price what the tires will cost you when you have to replace them…Those low-profile tires are expensive.

While handling might be a little better with the 18s, if that’s important to you there are likely high-perfomance tires available in 16s. You avoid all the bending rim and rough ride problems that way.

I don’t agree that larger diameter wheels make better handling. Of our three cars, the one that drives the best has 13" wheels. The other two have 15" and 17" wheels respectively.

Unless they’re all the same make/model, you can’t compare across different cars. By ‘better’, one typically gets slightly higher max Gs in a corner, and quicker (‘sharper’) turn in, at the expense of ride, etc.

Texas is right…you have to compare apples to apples here. It’s like saying…the car with 13" wheels has better handling then my vehicle which has 17" wheels…Well a small Honda SHOULD have better handling then a Mid-Size SUV.

Thankfully manufacturers are responding with lower cost “low profile tires” that are decent quality and riding. They are not pure ultra performance & (price) tires that was equated to in the past with low profile tires.

I am quite happy with my $100/each tire(installed) Sumitomo HTR+ tires that are 215/45/17 on my wife’s Subaru wagon.

Ddrive them and see which feels better to you.

I drive 30-35,000 miles per year in New Englend, land of the potholes and frost heaves, with 17" wheels wrapped in 215x45 tires. With prudent driving the wheels will be fine. You need to leave room between you and the car in front of you to see the potholes and avoid them, and keep the speeds reasonable on secondary roads. This is just prudent driving anyway.

For those folks with chronic bent rims who have the original equipment tires with at least a 45 aspect ratio, I’d submit that they’re driving techniques are more to blame than the aspect ratios of the sidewalls.

Honda has engineered the suspension for each model. Sporty model likely firmer ride.

We’re talking the Element here, not a vehicle that needs high-performance tires. If you have any interest in using its AWD capabilities off-road or in the snow, the 16s would be preferable.

Large wheels are a styling gimmick that increase the cost of driving. One good pot-hole reveals all… The choppy ride gets tiresome after a while…

I concur or poor construction of rims to start with. My wife/I have hit quite a few things with our 215/45/17 tires/rims mainly in the winter, no issues (yet)…

I love my ride. Not choppy at all. Manufacturers that offer them as standard equipment are adjusting the springs and shocks to take advantage of the lower profile benefits without undue firmness.

But I do worry about potholes. As much as I try to be careful, I’ve banged a few. No damage yet except to my nerves.

Exactly. Wheel size is not the only factor involving good handling. Suspension design is much more important than wheel size in my opinion. Of the many cars that we have owned, the best handling were German including two VWs and one Opel. All had 13" wheels.

OK–to summarize then–

Tire diameter/circumference is the same on both. Rim size is different. 18" is more fragile since there is less air to protect it, and the ride of the vehicle may or may not be affected by rim size.

Therefore, with a Honda Element SC, which comes with 18" rims, I would probably be better off it had 16" rims.

Generally correct?

Neither is “better”.

I looked up the Element SC and the original equipment 18" tires are 255/55x18 (they didn’t list a 16" option).

This sidewall is comfortably sufficient, and a 16" with comparable rolling circumference would be even better at absorbing blows, but less stable in handling. Which one is “better” is simply a preference in driving feel.

You’re focusing on a detail when in reality only you can decide and only based on the overall package. Sorry, but IMHO you need to stop focusing on tire size and simply decide if you like the vehicle’s road feel.