4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Wheels

Wheel upgrade is one of the most simple, common and effective modifications. All you need is just a new set of wheels to boost performance, handling, or looks instantly. And even though aftermarket parts sometimes get mixed reviews and have their drawbacks, the popularity of this kind of upgrade still does not suffer.

If you want to avoid the unpleasant issues and get all the possible perks from changing your wheels, let’s make a small checklist of what to keep in mind.

Why do I upgrade my tires?

This one is very straightforward and obvious, but you would be surprised how often people skip the obvious parts without much thought. In case of any upgrade, you should carefully evaluate the consequences and make up your mind whether this upgrade is worth a shot after all.

Your tire size, rim specs, and devices you install on them will always have some sort of impact on the car’s performance. By altering the size, you can subtly manipulate your gas mileage or acceleration. It also matters to the steering. The bigger the wheels, the more sluggish it gets. So if you are a fan of easy and responsive handling, don’t upsize the wheels.

And if you are going to brave the wild terrain away from the roads, then large, broad tires are your friends. They will grant you more clearance and just work better on a bumpy surface at the expanse of gas mileage and your average quarter-mile time value.

Those are just a few examples, however, they are proof enough that you should set your goals very specifically. Sometimes, depending on the upgrade purpose, you will have to sacrifice some values to get a boost for other aspects that matter more to you personally. But it always helps to at least know that beforehand, so do your research.

What size fits my car?

Although it is fun to play with size for better performance or a fierce look, don’t get carried away. The car has been built with specific wheel specs in mind, and going too far can damage critical systems or make them less efficient.

The size will depend on the tires and the rims. If you are looking for a minor change, then switching to tires that are no more than 20mm larger than the stock tires is a safe option. For  more significant wheel modifications, you will have to use bigger rims, and that is where things get more complicated. You can browse for more information on how to accommodate such mods here: modified1.com. Larger tires, although improve stability and braking distance, can become vexing because of their excessive weight and bulkiness.

You should be extremely careful if you have anti-lock brakes. They are the most sensitive to size changes and may not take it well. But even with other braking systems, it is better to consult your local mechanical shop to see if your car upgrade ideas are good, and you don’t need to adjust too much to fit it in.

Does a wheel upgrade change offset?

One of the most important values that often change with wheel size is offset, especially when you swap the rims for bigger or smaller ones. The offset is a way to characterize the distance between the mounting to your wheel’s center. Many things can change this value: tire size, width, rim specs, and special devices like spacers.

It can be zero, positive and negative, and you will notice those values shift with changing the wheel size. Just try any online wheel offset calculator like this one at wheelssize.com, for instance, to see the difference. This is what you should do before making the final decision on the size since offset affects not only the look but also steering, stability, and suspension.

What lug nuts do I need?

After you make up your mind about the tires, rims, and other wheel specs, it’s time to look for the lug nuts that will hold all that together. There are three things you need to find out here: pattern, size, and thread. All these specs can be found in your car’s manual or in the lug nut charts. Just make sure you choose the correct make, model, and year, and sometimes the trim level also matters, so watch out for that too.

This is where size really matters because these little bolts are the only thing that holds your wheels in place. And regardless of how easy it may seem at first, you should probably leave this job to a professional. Without experience in applying the exact amount of torque you need to tighten up the lug nuts, you risk damaging them beyond repair.

To sum it up, with an achievable goal in mind, upgrading your wheels can be a simple feat. You can definitely avoid unnecessary work and issues associated with changing wheel size with a bit of research and some good old planning.


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