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Anyone have experience with changing tire size to improve handling?

I have a car which comes stock with 185/60/R14 tires. The tires, although relatively new are cheap Chinese tires from a brand I have never heard of. I don’t like the handling and traction of these tires, especially when there is gravel, etc. on the road surface. I am planning to buy new tires, and am considering using a different size to improve handling and traction.

Online research indicates that I could go to 175/65/R14, which is slightly narrower, but increases the diameter slightly. Or I could go to 195/60/R14, which is slightly wider and also increases the diameter slightly.

This is for a front wheel drive car, with an automatic transmission, btw. Also, all of these sizes are priced similarly for decent quality tires.

The tire size is not the problem , it is the tires themselves . Just get good rated tires at the proper size for this unnamed vehicle.

Why not tell what this vehicle is or this a secret like the one you wanted 1400 miles from your home . Did you buy it or not .

You are driving a car with an orphan tire size. 14 inch tires are getting harder to find so your choices are limited. Increasing or decreasing tire width by 10 mm will do virtually nothing for your handling in ANY condition. Increasing the price you pay for those tires will provide you with the best improvement you can get on this car.

A quick look on a couple of tire sites shows me only 2 models I’d even consider spending my own money on – Toyo Extensa A/S and Hankook Kinergy ST or Optimo. Both are in the correct size for your car, and both are made by quality companies.

I’d Ignore Fuzion, Laufenn, or any other of the cheaper brands.

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Agree, it’s the tire, not the size. Surprised you found a car with that size, my '83 GTI had them, back when those were considered ‘low profile’.

I did not end up buying the far-away vehicle. It was a 1994 Dodge Caravan with the V-6 3.0. Very low miles, and looked like new. Said to be a one-owner trade-in. It was at a Ford dealer in Washington state, and I live in Arizona. The listing was taken down, so I assume someone bought the van, or it went to auction.

The only reason I didn’t mention the make or model in my discussion was because I was talking about the logistics of buying a far away car, and not looking to hear from people saying not to buy this model, etc.

The Vredestein Quatrac 5 is available in your size. Although it’s not a well-known brand, Tire Rack gives it good ratings, so I’d give it some consideration. If it matters to you, it has the 3PMSF rating.

Do not change tire size. The car is designed to work with a certain diameter and profile of tires. Changing those parameters will affect the other components.

For example, if your outer diameter changes, you speedometer and odometer reading will be inaccurate and a potential legal trouble.

Another thing. The traction is dependent on the contact surface area between road and the rubber. A better quality tire (e.g., Michelins) will improve that.

Handling won’t improve with a lower profile tire of an alternate size. The ride becomes harsher on a lower profile tire, and damages the rims and the body due to excessive vibration.

My preference would be the 195/60/R14, which is slightly wider (7.68" vs 7.28") and slightly taller (23.21" diameter vs 22.74" diameter). I would never put lower-profile tires/larger rims on any car that I own. I am asking whether using high-quality tires of this size would be noticeably superior to using high-quality tires of the O.E. size, or whether there is any real risk to doing this.

Surely someone here has changed the tire size which came on their car, either for performance reasons, or because the original size was not readily available?

No way we can tell if you have the clearance for larger tires, that’s the main risk. Also don’t know if your rims are the right width for 195/60x14. But I doubt handling would improve.

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I strongly disagree with that statement. As does every manufacturer of modern performance automobiles. All of which have low profile, wide tires.

Handling is not “ride” Handling is not “protection from potholes”. Handling is being able to generate higher fore-aft (traction) and lateral acceleration (skid-pad G-forces) levels on the surface most used by the vehicle. Generally this is a compromise since good dry performance compromises wet, gravel and snow. Handling is also how the tire transitions from straight to corners and back Low profile tires make that transition quicker.

Nearly every car I’ve owned has gotten bigger tires, or bigger wheels and tires at some point in my ownership.

I’d have suggested the OP switch to 205/50/15 wheels and tires if he actually wants better handling but I know he is far too frugal to go that route.

I have, many times. I stand by my first post.

I will add that nearly every car ever made can tolerate a 10 mm (3/8ths inch) increase in section width. Most will accept 20 mm or more. Some, like my Mustang, will accept 40 mm wider tires but those require wider wheels.

I recently changed tire sizes although it was for more practical/logistical reasons. My Mustang came stock with staggered wheels, the tires and wheels are different sizes front and back, the front wheels were 19x9’s with 255/40/19 tires and the rears were 19x9.5 with 275/40/19 tires. The issue with this setup for me was you could not rotate tires, and a set of tires would last 10k-13k miles. Not a big deal if the car is weekend toy, but this is my daily driver. About the time I realized my second set of tires was nearly worn down to legal depth and the car had less than 25k miles on it. I decided to get a new set of wheels, a squared setup (all wheels are the same size), so I bought a set of 20x10 wheels and shod them with 275/35/20’s. This way I can rotate my tires and hopefully eek out some extra life. So far it seems to be working. I have 6k miles on this set, (they’ve been rotated once so far), and tire wear is noticeably better than it was on the old staggered setup ( I’m using the same model of tire that I used for the 2nd set). I would guesstimate I’m going to be able to get around 25k-30k out of this set. As an added bonus there’s only a 1/10th of an inch difference in OD between the 275/40/R19 and the 275/35/20’s . So the speedometer/odometer aren’t noticeably effected. Theoretically grip should slightly improve as well as the front tires are a little wider.

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I guess this unnamed vehicle is the 2002 Daewoo Lanos that the OP recently bought . Nothing is going to improve the handling . So the concentration should be on traction , rain ability and wear .

Seeing your biggest complaint is

I’d say SLOW DOWN, you’re driving to fast for conditions.

I think the issue in addition to cheaper tires is that you had the completely wrong sized tires on the vehicle
It either came with 195/75r14
or 205/70r14
There were bigger rim options as well.

I don’t think this vehicle is the Dodge Caravan , why won’t he say what it is .

The Dodge was the vehicle OP did NOT buy. We still do not know ithe vehicle he is asking about.

I’d go with 16’s if he’s got the clearances. Some 15’s are getting hard to find tires for now too, and I suspect they’ll go the way of the 14s before too long.

Unfortunately, going from 14 to 16 means a significant power hit at the wheels because you’ve got more weight farther out, so that’s not an ideal solution either. Especially if it’s the Daewoo we’re talking about. Those things could barely get out of their own way fresh from the factory.

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This vehicle is a 2002 Daewoo Lanos sedan. The crappy tires are what the previous owner put on it to sell. I did NOT buy the 1994 Caravan, because the distance proved insurmountable. If it was for sale here, I would have happily paid the $2995 asking plus the dealer fees and tax, but the cost and difficulty of getting the van from WA to AZ was just too much.

Years ago, I replaced the 205 75R14 tires on my 1990 Ford Aerostar with 215 70R14 size tires. I thought it made the van handle better.