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How to Buy Super Sized Rims For Your Car

Jul 25, 2008
In some parts of car culture, the size of automotive rims has gotten out of control. Over the last few years, rims 24-inches or greater have become more and more common on high end street machines, and some SUVs sport gargantuan wheels and tires. This has caused a ripple effect throughout the entire automotive community, particularly when it comes to import tuners. While in the 1990s, it used to be considered excessive to have rims above 17-inches in size, nowadays 18s are the norm from the factory and 19 and 20-inch rims are common.

You might have felt the pressure to upsize your imports wheels and tires, whether as a result of this rim size arms race, or simply because you want a different look for your car. While in general it is not a bad thing to fit your car with bigger rims, there are some guidelines that you should keep in mind while doing so, in order to make sure that your car rides as well as it looks.

The first thing to consider is your cars suspension. The engineers who designed your vehicle had very specific wheel sizes in mind when they chose the components that underpin its suspension. Larger wheels are usually heavier than stock, and this extra weight can slow down the car, as well as increase suspension wear. If you want to spend the extra bucks, you can get forged wheels, which are much lighter than standard cast rims.

Larger wheels usually also have a wider tire, with a thinner sidewall. This can really help your improve your vehicles grip on the street, although at the drag strip, the thinner sidewall will not flex nearly as much as a taller one, decreasing traction on launch. The other thing to watch out for with a thinner sidewall are things like potholes and curbs, as there is less rubber to protect your rim from getting bent. Finally, make sure that the offset of the wheels is sufficient to prevent any rubbing when you turn the steering wheel all the way over to one side.

Even keeping all of this in mind, there are some sizes of wheel that cannot be run without modification to your cars suspension, and sometimes its bodywork. Anything larger than 22 inches brings serious weight and size into the picture, and must be dealt with accordingly. However, there is a really easy way to figure out how to mount a wheel that will look great, handle well, and fit perfectly. Its called plus sizing, and the idea is to preserve the original overall diameter of the wheel and tire combination that came with your car. For example, if you move from a 17 inch wheel to a 19 inch wheel, by choosing a tire with a wider contact patch and a narrower sidewall, you can keep the same diameter as your stock combo, yet enjoy the benefits of great-looking rims.

There are plenty of online wheel-size calculators that will let you see a representation of your stock tire superimposed on the wheel size you are thinking of upgrading to. These can be a big help when it comes time to decide how big you want to go.
About the Author
Justina Mathews writes issues that currently affect the performance car enthusiast. She also writes about issues that affect the street tuner industry, as well as import scene lifestyle. She's a staff writer for fuel systems .
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