Tires too big?

Will it damage anything if my tires are bigger than the manufacturer recommends? My husband insists that the 205 size is more fuel efficient even though my car takes 185. When I make sharp turns I can hear the wheels scraping the wells.

If you hear the tires rubbing anything while turning, the tires are too wide. The difference between 185 and a 205 tread width is almost an inch overall.

A wider tire is not more fuel efficiant. It has a higher rolling resistance.

Put the correct size tires on the vehicle. If a 205 tire size were correct for the vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer would have listed it.


The 205 tire offers no fuel advantage over the 185. If the oversize tires are rubbing the car then that puts the tires at risk. Your husband is off in la la land on this one.

You can count this as a third vote for hubby being wrong, wrong, wrong.
My guess is that he got a better deal on the 205 tires, and is trying to rationalize something that even he knows is wrong.

You did not say what the tire aspect ratio is. For a 185/75/14 tire the aspect ratio is the middle number (75%), and it means that the side wall height is 75% of the tread width. If the new tires don’t have a smaller aspect ratio, their outer diameter will be larger than the older 185s. For a 75 aspect ratio, the new tires would be 1.6 inches larger in diameter. That can also lead to rubbing the wheel wells.

Wider tires are almost never better on fuel. Econoboxes use narrow tires for a reason.

Replace the tires. The rubbing tires may end up killing you.

To address the issue the OP presented first: Any time you have rubbing, that is a problem.

And to correct some misconceptions: Smithers has presented some data that says that larger tires give better RR (the premise of the OP’s spouse). I explore this in more detail here:

Your husband is wrong. The 205 tires are actually decreasing your fuel economy. The rubbing is also wearing out the tires much faster.

Mind If I Pile On ? Wrong Tire Size (Diameter - See Comment By jtsanders) = Wrong Speedometer / Odometer Indication.


OK, I certainly thought so. It may very well be wider but it’s also taller! I was parked to a car identical to mine the other day and their tires were at least 2 inches further away from the wheel wells than mine. We did get a good deal on these. I’ve had 195’s on this car and it wasn’t as much of a problem. Thanks for the input everyone…

Ah, good point, thank you!

Thanks all for the input…lots of good information here, much appreciated.