How does car wheel size affect its performance?

Updated Nov 30, 2022 | Same topic: Best Advice for Car Buyers

Identify the different wheel sizes, their effect on the car's performance and how to choose the best option.

There are lots of factors affecting the performance of cars. It includes the engine type, the car’s condition, suspension system, and the list go on. But how about the wheels? Does the size of the wheels make any difference?

Does it affect the performance of the car or it just adds appeal in making the car look cool? To find out, read on this article from

The tires are the car’s main contact to the road, without it, a car will not run. Tires are mounted to the wheels. By spinning the wheels, a car will be able to move and rotate.

But in order to get the wheel spinning, the driver needs to apply torque through its axis. You can calculate the torque value using the tangential force produced by the wheels and the wheel’s radius.

The torque value can be treated as a constant by assuming that the engine produces a stable torque figure. Therefore, if there are changes in the radius of the wheel, there should also be changes in the driving force from the wheel.

The differences between 17, 18 and 19-inch tires tested and explained

I. The impacts of wheel size in the overall performance

1. Plus-sized wheels

It’s important to remember and understand that if the diameter of the vehicle’s wheel is large, the tire’s sidewall should reduce in sizing. This will maintain an overall balance.

Lots of people prefer or choose larger wheels, just to improve the looks of their vehicle. this practice should be avoided, mainly because larger car wheel size decreases the acceleration and fuel economy.

Larger wheels can also impact the ride quality because it makes the driving experience skittish and more thrashy. If you’re thinking of adding massive wheels in your car, be warned that bigger wheels mean bigger tires, therefore there will be higher rolling resistance.

This means more energy will be needed to move it. This will burn more fuel. In addition, larger wheels are heavier which will negatively affect your fuel consumption.

Car with big wheels

Big wheels are heavier which will have a greater rotating mass that hampers acceleration

Big wheels are heavier which will have a greater rotating mass that hampers acceleration. But it will make your car look really cool.

The only good thing larger wheel offers is the intensity of stability. Additionally, when you press the brakes, the braking distance will also be reduced. On the other hand, you should not forget or ignore its downfall because they overpower the benefits.

So, bigger wheels are not really a good choice. It should be the last option. Bigger wheels increase the car's load and are also an expensive investment to make.

2. Smaller wheels

Smaller wheels provide a more superior overall driving experience as well as the grip at the sharp ends. When you choose smaller rims, you will get an advantage over the noise, vibration, and the harshness. This parameter is often called “NVH”. This means that smaller wheels will make less harsh and less noise.

car with small wheels

Smaller wheels provide a more superior overall driving experience as well as the grip at the sharp ends

Smaller wheels are preferable because it makes the drive more comfortable especially when you need to operate the car through bumpy and rocky road surfaces and potholes.

When smaller wheels are installed in your car, it doesn’t affect the vehicle’s acceleration and fuel economy. The only disadvantage of smaller tires is that it does not fill the wheel arches, which may hamper the overall appeal of your vehicle.

Smaller diameter wheels allow more concise handling because each wheel rotation covers a shorter distance. This means smaller adjustments can be done during cornering, unlike tires with a larger diameter.

>>> Worth to note: Why are small car tires more beneficial?

II. Different wheel sizes

Here are the different wheel sizes and their impacts on the overall car performance.

1. 17-inch wheel

This wheel size is preferable in wet road conditions. It also provides better driving and rides quality. Although this small wheel offers moderate stability, it still makes the ride comfortable and free from bumps impact. It is best in terms of comfort

17-inch wheels

17-inch wheel size is preferable in wet road conditions

2. 18-inch wheel

An i8-inch wheel has the lowest noise production. It also provides the best balance between drive handling, noise making, and overall ride quality. It is best to drive in both dry and wet road surfaces. It is best in maintaining the overall balance of the vehicle

An i8-inch wheel

An 18-inch wheel has the lowest noise production

3. 19-inch wheel

This big wheel is not suitable for rough or bumpy roads, but when driven on dry roads, this wheel size is the fastest. Bigger wheels like this size are expensive to install but it will make your car look cool and elegant. It is best used if you want your car to look elegant and feel sporty.

19-inch wheels

The 19-inch wheel is not suitable for rough or bumpy roads but on dry roads, they are the fastest

III. How does wheel size affect car performance

If you’re planning on changing the car wheel, it is a must to know that car wheel sizes affect the car’s performance and handling. You should really know what you exactly want to get out of your tires. It is a very important decision because by simply changing the wheel size of your car greatly affects the handling, performance, fuel economy, noise and harsh.

If you want to enhance the car’s performance and handling then opt for a larger wheel. On the contrary, if you want to enhance your vehicle’s comfort, noise and fuel economy, you should opt for a smaller wheel to be installed in your car.

Wheel size affect car performance

The best option is to stick to your car’s original wheel size

However, there are instances that simply changing the tire type and brand can already improve the said areas without having to change the wheel size. There are lots of tires that are manufactured with various requirements. You can choose the right tires for your car online.

Another factor to consider is the effect of the wheel size in your car’s aesthetics. Under-wheeled vehicles or the car’s wheels don’t fill out the wheel arches are unpleasant to look at and will ruin the overall appeal of your car. Arches that are properly filled will make a car look stunning.

When changing the wheel size, make sure you consider the given factors. It is better to take into considerations the performance and looks of your car before modifying the wheel size. The best option is to stick to your car’s original wheel size because it matches the make of the engine and suspension and the car make.

>>> Check out for more helpful tips and advice for safe driving.

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez


Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.

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