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Custom wheels are one way that folks express themselves and personalize their . But they aren’t as cheap and easy as sticking decals on your back window. There are several essential factors need to be considered, including cost, the fit of the wheel, modifications that will have to be made to the , how the new wheels and tires will affect the operation of the vehicle, your driving habits, and, of course, the style of the wheels. Most drivers start with the last factor: the style of the wheels. But that should be the last thing we choose.
When considering custom wheels, you should first carefully consider your budget. Some wheels may require pricey adjustments to your suspension system, brakes, or traction systems. You need to know what you can afford before you start shopping in or get your heart set on a particular type of wheel.
There are three basic ways you can change your wheels. First, you choose a wheel that is already the same size as the ones on your . Second, you can choose larger wheels, and third, you can choose smaller wheels. Mounting wheels that are the same size as the ones already on your car sounds easy enough. But, even though the wheel may be the same diameter as your current wheels, but that doesn’t mean it will fit your . Besides diameter, wheels also have an offset. This is the measurement from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on. If your new wheel does not have the same offset as your current wheels, your tires can rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. This can lead to blowouts, uneven tread wear, and other mechanical problems.
The tire and wheel professionals in at on can help you select a wheel that has both the correct diameter and offset for your . Or, if you really want a specific wheel in spite of the offset difference, your may be able to install adapters that will make the wheels fit.
Mounting larger wheels is a more involved process. There are several ways of doing this. You can mount larger wheels, but keep the overall tire diameter the same. Or you can “supersize” your tire/wheel combo. Mounting larger wheels while maintaining the same overall tire diameter is the easiest way to increase wheel size. You still need to adjust for offset. Generally, this alteration means that your new tires will be wider than the originals, so you will have to install adapters to keep them from rubbing on the wheel wells. Consult your service advisor by calling .
If you want to install larger wheels and increase the overall tire diameter, it is vital that the package fits in the wheel well: you may have to do some minor modifications to your suspension. More importantly, you will have to reprogram your engine’s computer to calibrate for the larger tire size. The computer calculates your speed based on the rotation of your tires, so increasing the size of the tires will render it inaccurate. Inaccurate speed calculations can mess up your anti-lock brakes and your stability control systems, as well as your speedometer and odometer.
As you can see, the more modifications you make, the more essential it becomes to have your service advisor tire and wheel professional help you with your car care.
If you really want those “super-sized” tires, great: just factor in the issues listed above, plus you may have to have modifications done to your suspension system.
The larger wheels and tires will add weight to your vehicle. This weight is not held up by the suspension system, so is referred to as “unsprung” weight. Adding unsprung weight affects your car differently than just adding loads inside of your car. Unsprung weight can affect acceleration and braking. Putting large wheels on your may require an upgraded brake system.
Also, you may not get the performance from your that you’ve been used to. It may be sluggish when accelerating or harder to handle when turning. You may also find that the ride is bumpier than it was before. Of course, done right at , a good wheel job can sometimes improve a vehicle’s ride or performance. It just depends on your vehicle, the type of wheels you choose, and what you are hoping to accomplish.
Now let’s suppose you want smaller wheels on your vehicle. That should be easier, right? Not really. You still have to worry about offset, and it is important that your computer be reprogrammed to account for calibration issues. And you may need adjustments to your suspension system.
Remember your budget? All of these scenarios require that you shell out some cash. Perhaps now you can see why it is good auto advice for car owners to make that consideration first, before setting their heart on a specific type of wheel.
Another consideration should always be your driving habits. Do you do a lot of off-roading on the outskirts of ? Do you carry heavy loads? Do you tow a trailer on interstates? All of these factors must be considered when replacing your tires and wheels. Some wheels just may not be up to the work you need them to do.
For example, if you mount large rims on your vehicle, then add low-profile tires to avoid major adjustments to other systems, they won’t be able to handle off-roading as well as larger tires. There won’t be enough sidewall on the tires to absorb the impact from off-roading. You could end up with dented or broken rims.
At the end of the day, drivers should always put safety ahead of appearance. That’s why you shouldn’t add custom wheels to your vehicle without consulting with your tire and wheel professional. Cutting corners when installing custom wheels by not making necessary adjustments to all of the systems impacted by the change can result in dangerous operating conditions as well as costly repairs down the road.
The auto professionals at want to remind motorists of the basics of vehicle safety: preventive maintenance, emergency preparedness and professional repairs. Stay safe, and stay on the road.