Last Updated on January 14, 2023 by Rose Morah
If you are looking to buy new tires, this article provides you with the information you need to choose the right tire size and wheels.
Here is what we are going to discuss in this article:
- How to read the tire size.
- How to know the right tire size.
- How to choose the right tire size for your rims.
- How to choose the right wheels.
- How weight of the wheels affect your vehicle’s performance
- Choosing the right tire size
- Choosing the right wheels for your tire
Choosing the right tire size
In order to choose the right tire size, you first need to know how to read the tire size.
How to read tire size
Knowing how to choose the right tire is important because you wouldn’t just buy any tire and expect it to perform.
You will need to know how to read the tire size.
Tire size specifications are usually labeled on the sidewall of the tire.
The following image shows what each number on the tire means:
The width of the tire – 185
The sidewall profile – 60
The sidewall profile is usually dependent on the width of the tire and will, therefore, not be the same on every tire.
It is called the aspect ratio.
The 60 on the above example means that the sidewall is 60% the width of the tire.
The load index– 82
The higher the load index, the higher the tire load ratings. Most tires show you the maximum load ratings.
Tire Pressure Guide: What is the Proper Tire Pressure For your car?
The speed rating of the tire – H
The speed rating shows the fastest speed that the tire can handle over time.
It helps you get the right tire speed rating, especially if you normally drive fast.
The tire speed rating is usually from A-Z, with Z being the fastest speed tire rating.
You can check out more details on speed ratings in this article.
Other tire labels
- Max Inflation PSI
This is the maximum pressure that the tire can handle.
Note: This is not the PSI that you need to be driving on. (Check the door jamb or vehicle manual to find out what tire pressure you should be driving on).
- Treadwear rating
This is basically how long the tire will last.
In most cases, the treadwear rating is usually not very accurate because some tire manufacturers tend to exaggerate it for marketing purposes.
Generally, the higher the treadwear rating the better.
But that should not be the case with racing or fast cars.
If you are looking for fast car tires, the lower the tire treadwear rating the better the grip you will get from the tires.
Their treadwear ratings go from zero to 200.
Hence, if you are driving a fast car (high-performance car) you need not be concerned about the tire wear rating.
- Traction rating
This is the rating of how sticky the tire rubber compound is. Tires are rated in 4 traction grades: A, B, C, and AA.
- Temperature rating
This is the tire’s temperature resistance rating. This is also rated in 3 grades: A, B, and C.
Grade A – This means that the tire can go up to a speed of 115+ MPH without generating too much heat.
Grade B – This means that the tire can go up to a speed of 100 – 115 MPH.
Grade C – This means it can go up to speeds of 85 – 100 MPH.
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How to choose the right tire size
To choose the right tire size, you need to check the vehicle’s tire recommendation.
You will need to make sure that the tire speed rating, load index, and size match the vehicle’s tire recommendation.
You can find this information in your vehicle’s door jamb or vehicle’s manual.
You should never replace your tires with smaller-size tires or tires with a smaller load capacity than your original tires.
How to find the right tire size for your rims
To find the right tire size for your rims, check your door jamb to see the recommended tire size and rims for your vehicle.
Why do you need to get the right tires for your vehicle?
If you choose the wrong tire size, this will affect your speedometer readings and ride height.
A proper tire size results in fuel efficiency, road safety, optimal performance, and thereby a good driving experience.
Important things to note when measuring tires and wheels:
- The width measurements are done in Millimeters.
- You can use the tire size comparison calculator.
Choosing the right wheels for your tire
How to choose the right wheels
When choosing the right wheel for your vehicle, you need to keep in mind that diameter, offset, and width directly impacts the size of the tire.
The offset is the distance measured from the center of the wheel to its mounting face (the positive side).
See the images of the positive side of the wheel:
To choose the right wheels for your vehicle, you need to consider the following:
1. The bolt pattern of the wheel
It is important to get the proper bolt pattern when buying new sets of wheels.
This is because the bolt pattern determines how well the wheels will be secured to the vehicle using the lug bolts/nuts.
Getting the right bolt pattern will ensure the lug nuts/bolts fit safely.
Discount tire advises buyers never to install wheels that do not perfectly match your OE bolt pattern, even if the size is closer.
Every car has a different bolt pattern. However, small vehicles have fewer lugs compared to larger ones.
What are the different types of bolt patterns?
The 5 different types of lug bolt patterns for different vehicles are 3,4,5,6 or 8.
How do you know whether you have the right bolt pattern?
There are two ways to find out whether you have the right bolt pattern:
- Through online shopping.
This is the easiest way. Most online shops require you to enter your vehicle’s information, which will in turn show you the right wheels for your vehicle.
- Do your own measurements.
2. Is your wheel hub or lug-centric?
What is a hub-centric wheel?
In simple terms, hub centric is the center bore of your wheel which allows your tire and wheel to center at the vehicle’s hub.
Hub-centric is also known as the hub pilot.
When shopping for wheels, you need to have the measurements of the vehicle’s hub because it needs to perfectly match the wheel’s center bore.
What if you bought wheels that have a bigger hub centric for your vehicle’s hub?
You will need to purchase hub-centric rings and install them to fill the gap between the center bore and the vehicle’s hub.
This will help center the wheels around the vehicle’s hub.
What is a lug-centric wheel?
A lug-centric wheel is a wheel that depends on lug holes to center the wheel of the vehicle.
If you are buying aftermarket wheels, you should expect to get lug-centric wheels because the majority of them come with this lug-centric design.
3. The type of wheel you prefer
There are 5 different types of wheels.
The different types of wheels vary based on how they are made (material), weight and cost.
When shopping for wheels, I’d highly recommend you take the weight of the wheels into consideration.
Why should you be concerned about the weight of the wheels?
The weight of the wheels plays a significant role in the performance of the vehicle.
This is because the total weight of the vehicle (including that of the wheel) will affect its ability to brake, accelerate, and take corners.
This means that lighter wheels will more likely give you better vehicle performance and handling.
- Light Vehicle = Less Fuel Consumption
- Reduced Weight = Less energy needed to change the speed.
- The less weight that needs to be controlled = Improved (speeded up) acceleration and braking.
Therefore, if you are wondering whether to go for lightweight or heavy wheels, this should help you decide.
N/b: Buyers who are looking to get greater braking and acceleration efficiency should get lighter wheels.
What are the different types of wheels?
- Steel wheels (Steelies)
As the name suggests, these types of wheels are made of steel, which is an alloy of carbon and iron.
Though steel wheels are heavier, they are more durable and easy to repair and refinish.
- Cast wheels
Cast wheels are made from molten aluminum. Though they are less costly and light, these wheels are known for cracking.
- Flow formed wheels
Flow-formed wheels are formed from the stretching and compressing of aluminum. This makes them less costly, much more durable, and lighter than the cast wheels.
- Forged wheels
Forged wheels are made from heated and pressurized billets that are heated under very high temperatures to form the shape of the wheel.
These types of wheels are usually more resistant to oxidation and corrosion. They are also more durable because they are stronger.
Forged wheels also tend to be lighter and more expensive compared to cast wheels.
- Multi-piece wheels
Unlike most wheels that are made of one piece of material, multi-piece wheels are made of more than one piece.
Some buyers prefer multi-piece wheels because they are much easier to repair and less expensive to maintain because you don’t have to replace the entire wheel like others.
However, these benefits make them much more expensive compared to other types of wheels.
4. Whether you want to tweak your brakes
Brakes also affect the size of the wheels that you plan to get.
For example, if you plan on getting bigger brakes for your vehicle, then you may need to get bigger-diameter wheels.
This is because bigger brakes will need more space on the wheels.
5. What look and driving experience you want to achieve with your tires
You can achieve a different look and performance depending on the length and width of the wheel.
For instance, if you want to get smaller tire sidewalls, you may need to get a larger wheel.
On the other hand, if you want a wider ground contact patch on your tires, then you need to get wider wheels.
This will also improve your vehicle performance because you get a better grip when driving.
Additionally, if you like a budget tire look, you can play around with the wheel and tire size. Professional mechanics can help you figure it out.