I am concidering a Honda Fit right now. I wondered what an alloy wheel was and if the Sport version of the car is better because of it’s 15inch alloy wheel instead of th 14 inch (non alloy)? Are bigger wheels better, and is this alloy thing better? By better I guess I mean safer and better to drive?? Other wise the price tag seems to only go up for the extra speakers and better stereo. thanks.
Alloy wheels are strictly a “show” (appearance) item. You pay a lot of money for something that’s easily damaged and a pain to take care of. Me, I’d rather buy cheap steel (standard) wheels and put fancy hubcaps over them. As far as 15" vs 14", the larger wheel takes a tire with a smaller (shorter) sidewall (lower ratio). The ride is a bit harsher since there’s less rubber to flex, but maybe handling is improved a tad. Not worth the extra dollars to me, especially as this isn’t a high performance sports car.
Here is a case in which bigger is not necessarily better. The larger wheels are for appearance only, and it is the fashionable trend these days. Get them only if you’d think anyone woud notice and (for some reason) be suitably impressed.
Larger wheels not only look better, but improve handling and ride because of the larger footprint. When you’re talking about just 1", the diff. will be low.
Alloy wheels are often lighter than the standard steel wheels, which can contribute to a better ride (less unsprung weight), and slightly better gas mileage (emphasis on “slightly” because I doubt you could measure the difference.
Mostly, however, it’s appearance. If you don’t mind the standard steel wheels you really don’t need to spend the extra money for the larger alloys. They don’t make the car any “safer.”
In addition, alloy wheels require a little extra care as opposed to steel, so you might want to factor that into your decision.
alloy wheels require a little extra care as opposed to steel
Most alloy wheels require a lot of extra care – they’re soft and very easy to ding (Be extra careful not to hit that curb! Don’t go through an automatic carwash with them!) and even washing them can be a pain. Let’s not talk about what sand and salt can do to them in winter. Mounting tires requires special equipment, and it’s difficult to balance them because you can’t clip wheel weights on the outside like you can a steel wheel. Maybe the aggressive styling appeals to you, but I would consider them a total waste of money. Buy standard steel wheels and put nice hubcaps on them.
The dealer is pushing them because they’re a high profit item. They’re not going to do squat for you in handling improvements (versus the harsher ride) in a vehicle like this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lower profile tires are more expensive, too.
Look better? In your opinion maybe, I think the current trend to large wheels with narrow sidewalls looks stupid.
I doubt there is more contact patch either. The overall tire diameter is the same, and if the width is the same, then the contact patch is the same.
To the OP. This larger wheel thing is just the current fad. Yes, there is some theoretical handling improvement from the shorter sidewalls being stiffer, but unless you are doing auto-cross it’s not something you will notice or need.
The alloy wheels basically are for asthetics. However the tire size upgrade will bring a noticeable upgrade in the handling of the vehicle with slight degradation in ride.
The reason I know this is I looked up the FIT and my wife;s old Civic had the exact same size 14" wheels in steel. When it came for tire replacement time I found a set of used Honda Civic SI alloy rims with decent all-seasons in the same size as the FIT. My wife drives a little spirited noticed the upgrade right away in the twisty roads around us in her Civic.
If this does not matter nor does other upgrades in the Sport Model stick with the smaller wheels.
Ranck, A) If you think a larger wheel doesn’t look better on a car you’re in maybe the 5% that shares that opinion, fine. All vehicles have been going to larger wheels in the past 30 years or so. B) A larger wheel means a tire with a larger overall diameter and circumference. That means a larger footprint. EVEN if you bring down the aspect ratio, you can’t keep making the tire diameter the same as you make the wheel larger. C) The improved handling from a low profile tire is not theoretical, it’s actual. That’s why all high performance cars and most other cars have them as standard equipment.
No, a larger wheel does not mean a tire with a larger overall diameter. If you look at the calculators on various tire sites they specifically change the sidewall height so the overall diameter and circumference are the same when you purchase larger wheels. Otherwise you’d have to recalibrate the speedo and odo when you changed the wheels.
While you may believe that 95% of the world thinks larger wheels look better, I am sure you have no actual proof of that. It’s a fad. I think it looks stupid. I don’t claim to know what others think.
Yes, there are some potential handling improvements, but for the average driver it’s meaningless.
www.carbibles.com has an excellent wheel and tire primer.
Personally, I like the added edge in hadlign that a slightly larger wheel with lower aspect ratio tire provides. But others who may drive a lot more sanely (did I say that?) may prefer the slightly smoother ride of the added sidewall that a smaller wheel/larger aspect ratio provides. It’s all in what you like. Test driving both is the only way to find out.
Getting top quality tires in a 14" size is getting increasingly difficult. The 15" wheel is becoming the baseline wheel with optional wheels going from 16" to 22". There are some good 14" tires currently, but anyone that has an older econobox with 13" wheels knows that that end of the market has been all but abandoned by the quality tires. I recently upgraded an older Toyota from 13" to 14" for this reason.
However, I do prefer steel wheels over alloys. Alloy wheels are more prone to fracturing or breaking when hitting potholes etc. Not all of them require special mounting equipment anymore. The newer equipment at most tire stores will do alloys just fine, but alloys will be slightly more trouble prone in the long run, but some of them look better. Balancing is not an issue, they make weights for them and they don’t cost any more. I do agree with one other poster only as far as aftermarket alloy rims are concerned, they look stupid, but most OEMs look pretty good. Matter of taste I guess.
Getting top quality tires in a 14" size is getting increasingly difficult.
That is very true, I use 205/70-14s on my car and it’s becoming a real PITA to find decent (H rated or better) tires. At this point, I only have 2 or 3 choices in this size and the best are only mid-range tires.
Yes, in most cases a larger wheel DOES mean a larger outside diameter, unless the increase in wheel diameter is just an inch. Anything more and the decrease in the profile won’t compensate for the increase in wheel size. If you were alert enough, you would have seen me say this in my first response, Ranck. Quote: “EVEN if you bring down the aspect ratio, you can’t keep making the tire diameter the same, as you make the wheel larger”. In other words, if you increase 2 or more inches, there’s no way you can keep the dia. the same as the original size. Plus, most speedos ARE effected when people upsize.
Don’t be so sure I don’t have proof that the majority of consumers want larger wheels, the market in bigger wheels has been increasing for decades. If most people had “your” opinion, that wouldn’t be so. That’s proof, Ranck.
“Potential handling improvements” ? No, actual handling improvements. You sound like a lawyer trying to make a case against a tire company.
Honestly, going from a 14 to 15 inch wheels is mostly bling. You may notice a slight difference in handling, but don’t expect much difference. There is a better selection of 15 inch tires available. The bottom line is that you have to decide if the difference in appearance is worth the difference in cost.
The base Fit comes with 175/65-14 tires while the Sport model comes with 195/55-15 tires. The sport model will handle a little better than the base model. Very low profile tires can be rough riding, but the 55s on the Sport are not that extreme. If you are just looking for a cheap box to get around in, the base model will be adequate.
The Civic is a much better car for not that much more money. If the difference in price is important to you, consider a used 2006 or 2007 Civic. (The Civic was redesigned for 2006 and the older models are far less desirable.)
There’s a chapter in the book Honda/Acura Performance that compares OEM steel wheels and tires to aftermarket alloys, with wider footprint, lower aspect ratio tires.
The OEM setup gave quicker acceleration than either of the alloy setups. (The OEM setup was lighter than either of the alloy setups.)
The handling advantages of a wider tire are present in dry weather. On wet or snowy roads the OEM tire size is less likely to hydroplane or slip.
Whichever wheels/tires you get with your Honda, do be open to the idea of buying a set of steels with winter tires, if you are in a snowy area, and especially if you have the alloy wheels with their wider tires.
We’re talking about factory installed wheels only 1 inch different in diameter, aftermarket 22s or other silliness.
That market for larger wheels, if you are thinking aftermarket, is a tiny fraction of car owners and buyers. Most people just accept whatever is installed on the car. I remember years ago station wagons and minivans often had fake plastic woodgrain on the sides. I never met anyone who liked it, but the car makers kept putting it on and most people didn’t care enough one way or the other to make a difference in purchasing.
Again, handling difference will not be apparent or meaningful to the average driver.
There should be a “not” before the word “aftermarket” in the first line above.
I’m not sure you know WHAT you’re talking about. In your last post you said you think they look stupid. That would I assume, mean the “22s and silliness”. The OP and everyone else were refering to 1" or 2" larger wheels.
Or maybe you think that wheels that are 1" or 2" larger look stupid. Hmmm, the world may never know.