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Tires on New Cars

I keep cars until they die. In looking at new cars I find that so many of them have such large tires (18 inches or bigger). I want one that will have minimal upkeep. These tires are so expensive. Do the car manufacturers get a kick back?

I have heard that it is for better gas mileage. However, logic tells me that if they made engines smaller they can attain the same fuel efficiencies; and, as a bonus, lower the price for cars and the cost of their maintenance and upkeep. How do you see it?

“How do you see it?”


The large wheels are strictly an appearance option, BTW. Disregard the salesman’s claim of better gas mileage. The tires are there simply because some people thnk they are fashionable. And I don’t follow your statement of such tires requiring more maintenance. Just check the pressure now and then. Is there something more to do?

Not every car comes with large wheels. On some models they are just an option. But if you are given no choice, just buy the car you want as-is. Wear out the original tires and sell off the wheels, replacing them with the size you prefer.

I have heard that it is for better gas mileage.

How is that possible???

It’s strictly cosmetic. On some cars it looks GREAT…On others…like SUV’s not so great.

It’s current fashion. Nothing more. As these larger tire sized become more common, the prices should become more normal.

There are several mid-sized or small cars that try to be upscale. However, some still have economical versions. For example, a Civic DX is the cheap version of the Civic. It might have affordable tires. If you look at hatchbacks, they sometimes have performance tires, which can be very expensive. So look at cars with the ?budget? package of features. You might have better luck.

Thanks for your comments. I wasn’t sure about the gas mileage. As to tire maintenance, I meant that when you keep a car as long as I do, you have to buy new tires (severl times) and big tires are expensive.

Again, thnaks for your thoughts.

Thanks for your comment. I don’t mean to demean anyone. However, at my age (65+) function is more important than form. With the price of gas increasing (and not ever coming down), I want a car to run good not just look good. :>)

I agree. Have you tried pricing out a tire that goes on a 13-inch rim lately? They used to be dirt cheap, but they’re getting more expensive as fewer and fewer cars with them are on the road. I imagine as more budget-minded people wind up with used cars that came with 16-18 inch wheels on them, there will be more economy tires in those ranges.

Thanks for your comment.

I will look at the Civic DX. My niece has a Honda and really likes it. I will look at other cars with “budget” and similar options. However, my problem is that I really don’t want a “budget” car, just one with small wheels so my replacement tires are relative inexpensive.

Again, thanks for the good idea.

I agree with Steve that they’re mostly there for style, but on some vehicles the larger wheels combined with low profile tires are there to help handling.

If, when the time comes for new tires, you decide to go to a smaller rim, be sure the rim you choose is large enough to fit over the brake calipers.

If I decide to get a smaller rim, won’t I need to recalibrate the speedometer?

Not necessarily. Places like will have calculators that will tell you what size will fit on your vehicle. Also, I’d think that larger wheels would account for lower gas mileage, not higher. The weight of some of those rims alone should be enough to drag a few MPG down.

Likely not. It is the circumference of the tyre that counts. Most of those ghetto wheel-tyre combinations have a standard wheel-tyre combination to match the OEM

As the dealer, often they will make a deal to get you want you want. Those wheels and tyres are often in demand because the tyres are easily damaged and the wheels also are easily damaged so replacements are in demand. Get a good set of steel wheels, normal size and tyres to match and you might even save money in the deal as well as have a more reliable drive and I doubt if you will get any less mileage, you might even do better. has a great explanation. I recommend a visit.

Buy a car with smaller steel wheels, they make them. The larger ones are mainly for looks and occasionally function. For example my wife’s Legacy Wagon turbo has large brakes that only 17" rims fit over. Sadly this means no steels wheels for the winter and $130+/each tire replacements.