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2024-03-26

Upsizing Your Summer Wheels: Benefits, Considerations, and Expert Advice

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Should I Upsize My Wheel Diameter for my Summer Tires?

This is a question we've been frequently asked here at PMCtire, we thought it was time to answer and help as many customers as possible to understand this concept. as much as we do to make sure they make a clear decision when choosing a new set of wheels and tires on pmctire.com!

Wheel upsizing is a trend that’s not just for car enthusiasts, but for anyone looking to elevate their driving experience and vehicle aesthetics this summer. At PMCtire, we understand that the decision to upsize your wheels is both a technical and stylistic one, blending performance enhancements with visual appeal. Whether you’re aiming for a sharper look or improved handling on those summer road trips, upsizing your wheels and tires can make a significant difference.

In this comprehensive guide, we dive into everything you need to know about upsizing your summer wheels. From the advantages/benefits that come with larger wheels and tires to the essential considerations and potential drawbacks, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ll provide you with expert advice on how to choose the right dimensions for your vehicle on our website, ensuring compatibility, safety, and satisfaction.

Our goal? To arm you with the knowledge and confidence to make an informed decision about upsizing your wheels this summer. And remember, whether you’re a seasoned car enthusiast or a first-timer looking to upgrade your ride, the team here at PMCtire will always be there to assist you and make sure you select the best tires and wheels that fit your needs, whatever they are!

What Does "Upsizing" Consist of Exactly?

When we talk about wheel and tire upsizing, we’re referring to the process of increasing the size of your car’s wheels and tires beyond the original factory specifications. This might sound technical, but it simply means swapping out your current wheels for larger ones and fitting tires that match the new size. For instance, if your vehicle is originally equipped with 16" wheels and tires, you might be interested in purchasing a set of 17 or 18' wheels for your vehicle, which is what upsizing consists of.

Going from a 16" original diameter to an 18" would be considered a +2 upsize, a 19" a +3, and so on. There aren't really any limits to the difference in diameters between the desired upsize dimension and the original diameter, we've seen people go from 15" wheels to 20" wheels, so a +5 upsize, but there are a few things to consider before doing so, most importantly the tire dimension that will be equivalent to the original overall diameter. We will go into more detail about this topic later in the article.

Drivers opt for a summer wheel upgrade for several compelling reasons:

  • The most obvious is the instant boost in your vehicle’s aesthetics—larger wheels with low-profile tires make any car look more dynamic and sporty.
  • But it’s not just about looks; the tire upsizing benefits extend to performance as well. Larger wheels can offer improved handling and stability on the road, especially during those spirited summer drives.

Even if the actual performance of your vehicle is mostly dictated by the tire model you will end up purchasing and not the wheel diameter, upsizing the diameter of your tires and wheels may have an impact on the vehicle's responsiveness since tires in higher diameter dimensions (like 19,20 or 21") are generally models that fall into the performance category. This is mostly the case for sedan/coupe models such as the Honda Civic/Accord, Volkswagen Jetta/Golf or the Kia Forte, and SUVs like the Toyota Rav4, Mazda CX-5 or Mitsubishi Outlander.

When it comes to pick-up trucks like the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra or HD trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado 2500/GMC Sierra 2500, generally speaking, when looking at higher wheel diameters (20, 22 or 24"), the tire options aren't necessarily more focused on performance as pick-up trucks don't need this kind of tire. The options offered will still remain in the same categories as the factory tire that came on the truck.

Therefore, by choosing the right wheel dimensions, you not only enhance your car's appearance but also enjoy a more responsive and enjoyable driving experience, especially on sedan/coupe vehicles.

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Benefits and Advantages of Upsizing Your Wheels and Tires

The decision to upsize your summer wheels brings with it a suite of performance and aesthetic benefits that can transform your driving experience. On the performance front, drivers can expect noticeably improved handling and increased grip on the road as mentioned previously.

Furthermore, upsized wheels offer an immediate upgrade to your vehicle's presence, giving it a more robust and sporty demeanor that's sure to turn heads. This blend of form and function not only enhances your driving enjoyment but may also boost the overall value of your vehicle to a potential buyer's eyes.

Our customer feedback echoes this sentiment, with many highlighting the transformative effect on both the look and feel of their cars. For instance, in a recent case study, a customer reported a marked improvement in their sedan's cornering capabilities and overall stability at highway speeds after upsizing their wheels, alongside the added bonus of their vehicle standing out with its renewed aesthetic appeal.

These testimonials underscore the tangible benefits of upsizing, making it a worthy consideration for any driver looking to elevate their summer driving experience.

For pick-up truck enthusiasts, upsizing wheels and tires isn't just about enhancing the vehicle's look; it's about tailoring the truck to better meet the demands of off-road adventures and heavy-duty tasks. Larger wheels paired with thicker, more rugged tires can significantly improve a truck's ability to navigate challenging terrains, from rocky paths to muddy trails. This increase in tire size provides a larger contact area with the ground, improving traction and stability on uneven surfaces. Additionally, the added clearance can be crucial for off-roading, allowing drivers to tackle obstacles and rough terrain with less risk of underbody damage.

Beyond the practical benefits, upsizing also offers an undeniable aesthetic upgrade. Larger wheels give pick-up trucks a more imposing stance and a tougher appearance, which many truck owners appreciate. This visual enhancement complements the rugged nature of pick-up trucks, reinforcing their capabilities in both work and play scenarios.

Considerations and Potential Drawbacks of Upsizing

While upsizing your wheels can offer numerous benefits, it’s essential to proceed with an understanding of the potential drawbacks and key considerations to ensure a successful upgrade.

Whether you own a sedan/coupe vehicle, an SUV, a minivan or a pick-up truck, one critical aspect to keep in mind is the importance of maintaining the overall diameter of the wheel and tire package. This balance is crucial to avoid inaccuracies in your speedometer reading and odometer mileage, ensuring that your vehicle's performance metrics remain accurate. Failure to choose the right tire size can lead to discrepancies that may affect your driving experience, mechanical problems related to the transfer case or other components of the vehicle, or even result in legal issues. Moreover, when upsizing, it's possible that the desired upsized wheel diameter requires a tire dimension that does not exist (this happens when none of the tire manufacturers offer a model in those dimensions because they are too rare), so this has to be taken into account as well.

Additionally, upsizing can sometimes lead to increased fuel consumption due to the added weight and aerodynamic drag of larger wheels. Drivers might also notice a decrease in ride comfort, as larger wheels with lower-profile tires typically mean less cushioning from road imperfections, leading to a harsher ride and less protection for your wheels to resist potholes or road hazards.

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Moreover, the initial costs of upsizing, including the higher price of larger tires and wheels, as well as the potential need for suspension adjustments to accommodate the new size, can add up.

These considerations demonstrate the importance of careful planning and consultation with experts to ensure vehicle compatibility and to weigh the upsizing drawbacks against the desired benefits. Once planned and well designed, an upsized tire and wheel set-up can bring a lot more benefits that will offset all of those drawbacks!

How to Choose the Right Upsized Diameter on PMCtire

When shopping for new wheels and tires on pmctire.com, it is very easy for customers to understand what dimensions would be considered upsizing, what tire dimensions are required to match and respect the original overall tire diameter and browse through the different options we offer that would be a great fit for their vehicles!

Once you've entered your vehicle information in our vehicle search engine, the website will present you with the original wheel and tire your specific vehicle model and trim is equipped with, as well as other possible dimensions that can be installed on your vehicle.

For instance, when shopping for wheels for a 2022 Toyota Corolla L, the website shows the following information:

Screenshot 2024-03-26 at 9.33.22 PM.webp

So we see here that the vehicle comes from the factory with 15" wheels and tires, but that we have the possibility, if we want to, to increase the wheel size or upsize by +1 (16"), +2 (17"),+3(18") or even +4(19").

Customers can then select the upsize diameter they want and see all fitment-guaranteed wheel options offered for the vehicle in this upsized diameter.

Screenshot 2024-03-26 at 9.40.19 PM.webp

Once you selected the wheel model you want to go with and added it to the cart, the website will offer to shop for tire options that will be compatible with the selected wheel, but more importantly, the displayed tire dimensions will all be recommended tire dimensions for your vehicle and will respect the overall diameter of the original tire size. Moreover, the website will indicate which tire dimensions are compatible with the wheels that were added to the cart, making it easy for you to create your very own custom upsized package for your vehicle!

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Tire Dimensions Change and Overall Tire Diameter Difference Tolerance

A myth we frequently hear in regards to upsizing is that some vehicles can't accept a bigger wheel diameter because the tires won't fit in the wheel well, or that if they go from a 16" wheel and tire diameter to a 20", the tires will be 4" higher than the original ones.

This information is wrong and this is not the way upsizing and tire overall diameter work.

It's important to know that when upsizing, the recommended tire dimensions suggested by the website take into account the maximum tolerance of the difference in overall tire diameters between 2 tire dimensions. This tolerance is at -3/+3% difference.

If we take the example of a vehicle that originally comes with 17" tires, more precisely 225/65R17, and a customer wants to upsize to 20 wheels and tires. The new 20" tires will not be 3" higher than the original tires. The tire dimensions that will be recommended for this vehicle will take into account the original overall tire diameter of the 17" and recommend a tire size in 20" that will have an equivalent overall tire diameter (still within the -3/+3% range).

In order to do so, the tire size in the 20" diameter (like a 245/45R20 for instance) will have much less sidewall (roughly 3" less in total) because the wheel will take 3" more room inside the tire.

Here is a concrete example of what it would look like:

Screenshot 2024-03-26 at 10.40.58 PM.webp

We can see that by looking at the 2 tires at the top right of the image, both the 17" and 20" tire dimensions have approximately the same overall diameter. The difference is actually indicated as the first data entry of the comparison table, mentioning the 225/65R17 tire overall diameter is 28.52" and the 245/45R20 tire overall diameter is 28.62", for a difference percentage of 0.6%, which is very acceptable and under the threshold.

This is explained by the fact that, as mentioned earlier, the 20" wheels will be a lot bigger (by 3") than the 17" wheel, giving the great look customers are looking for. Therefore, in order for the tire overall diameter to stay the same, the sidewalls of the tires have to be much thinner.

As seen in the comparison table, the sidewall thickness (or height) of a 225/65R17 tire is 5.76", whereas the sidewall thickness of a 245/45R20 tire is 4.34", a difference 1.42", multiplied by 2 (for the bottom and top sidewalls), giving us the 3" needing to be cut due to the extra dimension of the 20" wheel.

Quick Tip for Determining the Right Upsized Tire Dimension Compared to the Original Size

In the example given above, and thanks to a tire size difference calculator, we determined that the dimensions 245/45R20 and 225/65R17 are equivalent to each other because the two total diameters have less than 3% difference in overall height.

If you don't have access to a calculator or if you want to quickly determine if one size in a diameter is equivalent to another size in a different diameter, here's a simple method to remember:

Considering that the tire width is the same (the first number, like for example 225mm), when you want to determine which tire size is equivalent in a higher wheel diameter, you must subtract 5% from the tire's aspect ratio.

For example, for a tire whose dimensions are 225/65R17. To find the equivalent dimensions in 18 (+1), 19 (+2), and 20 inches (+3), subtract 5 from 65 for each increased diameter. The new equivalent dimensions are therefore:

  • 225/60R18 (diameter +1, aspect ratio -5)
  • 225/55R19 (diameter +2, aspect ratio -10)
  • 225/50R20 (diameter +3, aspect ratio -15)

For more information on the meanings of the numbers that correspond to a tire's dimensions, you can refer to this article.

In conclusion, upsizing your wheels can dramatically transform your vehicle’s aesthetics and performance, offering improved handling, enhanced grip and a more commanding presence on the road. We've explored the many advantages of upsizing, from the superior handling and stability it provides to the undeniable aesthetic appeal. However, it's also crucial to approach this upgrade with a clear understanding of the potential considerations, including the importance of maintaining the wheel and tire package's overall diameter, the possible increase in fuel consumption and the impact on ride comfort.

Navigating the complexities of choosing the right tire size and understanding the implications on vehicle compatibility and performance metrics can be daunting. This is where professional advice becomes invaluable. At PMCtire, our team of experts is dedicated to guiding you through the process, ensuring that your upsizing project enhances your driving experience while keeping your vehicle’s integrity and functionality intact. Don't hesitate to reach out to them for any questions you might have. It will be a pleasure for them to be a part of your project and make sure you select the right wheels and tires for your car!

Embrace the journey of transforming your vehicle with confidence, knowing that PMCtire stands ready to provide the expertise and support you need for a successful upsizing project. Let us help you achieve the perfect balance of style, performance, and safety for your ride!

Dominic Vaillancourt

Automotive expert & Spokesperson