Four Things to Know Before Upgrading Your Wheels

Four Things to Know Before Upgrading Your Wheels

The wheels and tires on your car are both pivotal to its performance and have one of the largest influences over its appearance, making them a popular upgrade. With millions of different wheels on the market and tons of different tire options to match, it would seem as though upgrading your wheels is one of the easiest ways to get significant gains in both performance and looks.

However, before you pull the trigger on an upgrade to your wheels, there are some things you need to know. Wheels are not “plug-and-play” features on your car where you can just slap any old option on there and expect it to work properly—you need to take a number of different factors into consideration in order to make sure you get a purchase that both fits your ride and won’t risk damaging it in the process.

Here are four of the things you should keep in mind.

#1 – Increasing Wheel Size Changes Speedometer & Odometer Accuracy

Increasing your wheel size not only increases grip, but can give your car a more luxurious look at the expense of a rougher ride. For some people, this is a trade-off they’re more than willing to take. However, before you head to your local auto shop and have the new rims installed, you need to keep in mind that going bigger is going to change a lot about your car, particularly including your speedometer and odometer.

Larger tires cover more ground to make one complete revolution, which means your speedometer will actually show a speed that’s considerably slower than how fast you’re going. It will also cause your car to rack up miles slower than normal, which means your resale values and maintenance intervals will no longer be accurate. You can recalibrate your speedometer as long as you have a modern electronic unit, but it’s not exactly easy and getting it perfectly re-calibrated is nearly impossible. However, tampering with an odometer is illegal so don’t try to change anything about it or you could risk running into trouble with the law. Small changes may not seem like much, but increasing wheel size by as little as percent over a distance of say 10,000 miles can make a difference of 500 miles in your odometer!

#2 – Bigger Rims Means Bigger Tires & Bigger Costs

As rim size grows, so does the amount of rubber you need around it in order to create a tire. Bigger tires cost more. As such, if you’re going to install bigger rims, be prepared for tire costs to go up as well. Going from something as simple as a 17 inch tire to a 19 inch can increase the cost of a new set of tires by $200 or more, depending on whether or not you’re also purchasing a higher-performance tire model, such as Michelin Pilot Super-Sports.

If you’re looking for a budget upgrade, rims and tires may not cost a ton at the outset, but they will continue to cost you more in the long run, particularly if the car you’re upgrading is also your daily driver that you’ll pile the miles on.

#3 – Don’t Cheap Out, You Could Regret It

Improved manufacturing techniques and readily-available materials have led to an influx of inexpensive rims hitting the market, which has prompted a number of people to consider the upgrade. However, rims are one area where you absolutely cannot afford to cheap out. While buying a set of more expensive rims seems to defeat the purpose of affordability, these cheap rims (many of which come from China) could have been made with poor quality materials, giving them a higher risk of failure. Rim failure could not only seriously injure you by causing an accident, but could cost thousands in repairs to your car, and what’s worse is that some insurance companies may not even cover the damage caused by these rims if your policy has a clause against aftermarket performance upgrades.

#4 – Do The Rims Even Fit?

Wheels have a number of different dimensions to them that will affect whether or not they fit on the hubs at the end of each of your axels. Not only will you have to worry about wheel diameter and tire width, as both of these could cause the tire to rub against the wheel well if they’re too large, but rims that have too little or too much distance between the hub and the outer edge of the tire could cause the tires to rub on the wheel well or stick out from the side of your car. The latter is a popular aesthetic choice these days, but you need to consider if that’s the look you’re going for before buying.

For more information or to get help upgrading your rims and tires from a skilled Katy auto performance team, call HP Motorsports today at (281) 231-9950!
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