How To Safely Put Wider Tires On Your Car

The wide slick tires on F1 race cars get the pulse of all petrol-heads quickening. Widening the tires and rims on a car is the easiest way to upgrade the look of your car or truck to look and perform better. Cars and trucks are designed to accommodate larger and wider tires within the limits of the space available in the wheel arches.

Wider tires provide a bigger contact surface between the tire and the road resulting in improved stopping distance, cornering ability, and overall vehicle safety.  Wider tires will result in higher fuel consumption and steering effort but contribute to increased safety.

Fitting wide tires will be limited by some physical constraints on the vehicle. The owner’s manual for the vehicle will define some different tire size options that will fall within the design parameters of your vehicle. Let’s look at how to go about selecting a set of wider tires for your vehicle.

How To Select Wider Tires For Your Car

The car manufacturers will fit a high volume tire size on their models as standard equipment, and this is the tire size on which they will base the entire car’s performance data. Fuel consumption, stopping distance, and other key vehicle data will be based on tests conducted on the standard equipment tire size.

The wheel well’s size has to accommodate the entire movement of the tires during steering from full lock left to full lock right. The wheels and tires must move freely within the wheel wells and not interfere with the inner fender liners. This is known as the tire envelope.

The vehicle manufacturer will specify some wider and larger tire size options in the owner’s manual. Deviation from these specified sizes is not advised as it may result in the tires interfering with the vehicle, resulting in chafing and potential tire failure.

The car manufacturers design their model range such that it allows a wide range of different tires and rims to work in the tire envelope, enabling them to be able to create differentiation within the model range.

When selecting a set of wider tires, consider tire sizes with the same circumference as the standard tires. The gear selection of the gearbox is directly linked to the circumference of the tires. The tire’s width is not a problem as long as it will fit on the original rims. Alternatively, new alloy rims may also be required.

The width of the tires must only be such that it will not cause the tires to chafe on any part of the wheel well during use. Tire chafing will result in audible noise and is an early warning that the tires are too wide for the tire envelope of the vehicle.

What Are The Benefits Of Wider Tires?

Four patches, about the size of your hand, are all the contact that most cars have on the road. The grip of the tires on these four contact patches is of critical concern to the performance and safety of the vehicle.

The width of tires will affect the size of the contact patch. Bigger is better when it comes to the safety aspects of the larger contact surface. The ability to brake the vehicle is greatly improved. The cornering stability of the vehicle will also be enhanced due to the better grip countering the lateral forces on the car,

Wide tires will result in higher rolling resistance of the tires and thus harm the fuel consumption. The use of wide tires on the car during winter is a wise choice and will warrant the extra fuel cost. Wider tires will have a much better grip on the snow or black ice common on the roads in winter.

Wider tires also give the car a better stance and are often the first cosmetic improvement considered to look better. In combination with a set of alloy rims, the wider tires can dramatically change the appearance of a car.

Can Wider Tires Be Fitted Only To The Rear Axle?

The example of cars on the race track is often the inspiration for car enthusiasts to follow suit. Most race cars have large wide tires on the rear-drive axle and narrower tires on the front steering axle.

The look of wide rear tires and narrower front tires is done for good reason and does not compromise the vehicle’s safety. The powerful rear-wheel-driven performance cars have wide tires on the rear axle to transfer the engine’s power to the road more effectively.

The wide wheels in the back will provide more traction to the road and prevent wheel spin during acceleration. The front tires still play an essential role in the steering and braking of the car.

Check the owner’s manual of your vehicle for guidance as to whether you can have wider tires fitted to the rear axles of your car. Many high-performance cars are equipped with different wheel widths on the front and rear axles. The gearing ratios of the gearbox must be able to cope with the different size wheels.


Don’t be ruled by your heart in deciding to fit wider tires on your car. Determine your reasons and check which tire sizes fall within the tire envelope designed for your car. Make sure that the size of the tires selected will fit on the existing wheels of your car or whether you will have to purchase new rims to accommodate the wider tire size selected.

Wider tires will provide you with improved safety as the increased contact patch will result in shorter braking distances and better road holding. The road holding in slippery underfoot conditions such as snow and ice can be very dangerous during the winter. Wider tires on your winter wheels will be a significant advantage in maintaining control of the car on wet and slippery winter roads.

Wider tires will result in higher fuel consumption. Always ensure that your tires are inflated to the correct cold tire pressure to reduce the rolling resistance of the tires to a minimum.

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