Tyre width may not be something that you think about often. However, you should be aware of the difference that choosing a wide or narrow tyre can have on your driving experience. There are many people who worry about the safety implications of changing the width of their tyres.
The truth is, all tyres which are certified as having met European quality standards are safe. They simply have different strengths and weaknesses. None of these affect your safety on the road, but could impact how nice your driving experience is, or what your future expenses are regarding the tyres.
Of course, there are some things that you should be aware of and keep in mind. These come into play when making choices about wheel width, tyre size, and seasonal changes in particular. Luckily for you, we have consulted the experts at Continental, one of the most reputable tyre retailers in the world. Let’s find out everything you need to know about tyre and tyre rim width.
Why Do Drivers Change Their Tyre Width?
You could be forgiven for thinking that your car only has the capacity to take a certain size of tyre. However, there are many different replacement tyres which will be compatible with your car. You can use a tyre width calculator to help you find out which sizes are suitable for your vehicle.
There are several reasons why many drivers choose to adjust their rim width, tyre size, and even tyre PSI on a seasonal basis. The width of cars tyres can affect many things including:
As such, changing tyres seasonally can be incredibly helpful to people who live in areas where extreme weather is common. In the northern most parts of the U.K. - for example, Moray, where snow and ice are common in the autumn and winter - this can save lives as well as make the driving experience more comfortable. The tyres themselves are safe no matter what, but they can improve how well you can drive in these conditions.
Of course, this is not the only reason that people change their tyre width. Some people are simply unhappy with the aesthetics of the manufacturers’ standard rim and tyre width. Many people make this change along with other cosmetic modifications to ensure their car is more personal to them. It can bring its look more into line with your tastes, should you be so inclined.
The Pros and Cons of Narrow and Wide Tyres
Here are the main pros and cons of certain tyre width vs rim width combinations.
Wider Tyres: Pros
- Short braking distance
- Better grip when turning
- Handles small potholes more effectively
Wider Tyres: Cons
- Road roughness is more noticeable
- Increased rolling resistance and fuel use
- Difficulty on rutted roads.
Narrow Tyres: Pros
- Less likely to aquaplane
- Less rolling resistance and lower fuel use
- Increased driving comfort
Narrow Tyres: Cons
- Poor grip while turning
- Longer braking distance
As you can see, changing your tyre width (at least in the winter) can have huge benefits for you in terms of your safety, comfort, and even fuel costs. Switching them out at the right times can also lower the amount of wear and tear your tyres go through. This will save you money in the long-run by ensuring you don’t need to replace the tyres as often, or wait for them to get in such a bad state before making that investment.
What to Consider When Getting Replacement Tyres
Replacement tyres of different sizes can be perfectly safe as long as you use a tyre rim width calculator to check that they are compatible. Here are a few other things you should consider when choosing a replacement set of tyres:
There is a maximum permissible speed for a car in which certain tyres are installed. Make sure that you will still be compliant with the maximum load for your car. You can check this by using the load index while researching your tyre choices.
Check the load capacity index to find out the maximum load that a tyre can carry. This is expressed in two or three digits on the side of the tyre in question. You should compare this to the weight of your car and any trailers you are likely to tow. If you’re pushing your luck and packing your car tight, maybe factor in that additional weight in too.
The cavity size of tyres can vary and changing this is a possibility, as long as you ensure that the correct balance in the value that makes up the tyres is properly maintained. Increasing the diameter of the rim, for example, should reduce the profile of the model to maintain the relationship between the tyre and the rim. In short, tyre and rim size should increase and decrease proportionally to maintain safety.
Size of Brake Calipers and Discs
Changing the diameter of the rim could well have an impact on the effectiveness of your brakes. As such, it is a good idea to make sure that the installation size will still be safe. If not, talk to a mechanic to see if they can help you to mitigate this issue at all.
Finally, think about the weather and climate in your area. If you are changing your tyre width for efficiency rather than aesthetics, you should keep in mind that wider tyres are better for the summer. Here, the average driving speed rises and shorter braking speeds are needed. Likewise, narrower tyres are better for winter. This is when rutted, wet, or icy roads are more common, because they reduce the risk of aquaplaning, amongst other issues.
All in all, changing your tyres’ width can be a great idea. Be sure to consider what you need from your new tyres, and choose accordingly.