Can I Downsize My Wheels? Pros and Cons of Wheel Downsizing

can i downsize my wheels

A question that comes up in automotive forums more often than you might imagine is: “Can I downsize my wheels?” Or, more specifically, “Is it a good idea?” Or, even more specifically, “How do I do it?”

Luckily for you, in today’s article, we will be addressing all of these issues and the ups and downs of modifying your car to have smaller wheels.

Best Way to Downsize Your Wheels

When downsizing your aftermarket wheels, your best bet is to consult with a professional mechanic, despite what you may know about cars. This is because smaller wheels can have a direct impact on your car’s braking sensors in ways you may not expect. Coupled with some other risks, this is a compelling reason to go with a pro.

Benefits

If you’ve ever wondered “Is wheel downsizing a thing?”, then congratulations! Today is a big day with a lot to learn! Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros of this kind of optimization.

Less Weight Means Less Fuel Consumption

When your car weighs more, the engine has to work harder just to get the car going, at all. Take away some of that weight, and you lighten the load on your engine. And that means a measurable improvement in your fuel consumption.

Less Wear

Bigger tires tend to wear out quicker. As we’ve mentioned, they’re heavier, making the steering heavier as a result. That, coupled with wheel scraping and reduced sidewalls, means that smaller tires are always going to wear out more slowly.

Increased Acceleration

With a smaller diameter, your tires also enjoy increased acceleration. And how do they do this? By reducing your drivetrain’s effective gear ratio and giving the engine more room to exert torque with each revolution of the tire.

With shorter tires, you also have the benefit of a vehicle that is lower to the ground. This translates into less aerodynamic drag, which you’ll feel in your acceleration.

Drawbacks

So you’ve answered the question “How do I downsize my wheels?” and you know all about the benefits of smaller tires and the like. But what about the downsides? There are one or two, so let’s take a moment and break them down.

Less Grip

Bigger tires tend to have a wider area of contact with the road under your car. This means better traction, as there’s more actual rubber grabbing the road as you drive. And that’s felt in your car’s handling, which you will not get with a smaller wheel.

Underdone Cornering

Because of the above-mentioned traction, a bigger set of car wheels will always have better traction. What this leads to, in addition to their better grip, is a wider thread that goes into better cornering while you drive. This is not only more comfortable but is also safer. Once again, this is not a benefit to smaller wheels.

Worse Braking

The third factor arising from less contact area with the road under your tires comes when you consider the braking. Less rubber on the road means longer braking distances, making for dicier quick stops.

Can I Downsize My Wheels?

Ultimately, there are benefits to making a change like downsizing your wheels. There are downsides, as well, most of which we’ve outlined above. So, the answer to “Can I downsize my wheels?” is “Yes, so long as you know why you’re doing it and what the risks are”.

Whether you came to today’s article asking “Is there a way to downsize my wheels” or just wondering if it was a good idea, now you have your answer. Looking for more great automotive articles, from tire tips to brakes and so much more? Check out the rest of our amazing blog content, today!