Are your vehicle's current tires not in great shape and you're ready to purchase new ones? If so, you need to determine what size the tires should be prior to making a purchase. However, you may be wondering if the tire size actually matters and if you can change anything about them. Here is what you need to know about tire sizes.
The Tire Width
It helps to understand the three numbers that make up a tire size, as it is not always intuitive to spot right away. The first number is the tire width from sidewall to sidewall, and it is measured in millimeters. You are going to see a number in the 100s or 200s range for most vehicles.
One thing that you do not see in the size of a tire's width is the size of the contact patch. This is how much of the tire is touching the ground. A tire with a very large patch size is going to have more of the tire touching ground, which can give you more traction. However, a large contact patch is going to look more square on your vehicle instead of round.
Some people want a very wide and square-looking tire for aesthetic reasons, but it also has practical reasons as well.
The Sidewall Height
Another aspect of the tire is the sidewall height. Most people stick to the same sidewall height that their vehicle's manufacturer recommends since it will not cause problems with their vehicle. Changing the sidewall height can cause clearance issues where the tire is not going to fit, or it can mess with the speedometer with it not being accurate.
That said, you can change the sidewall height if you want to. A very small sidewall height is going to give the appearance of a thin tire on your car. This can be a look that you are going for on a sports car, where you want the wheels to be as big as possible.
The Rim Size
If you plan on keeping the same rims on your car, then you'll need to find a tire with the same rim size. Changing the rim size will require all new rims and increase the cost of your new tires. Going with a bigger rim can cause clearance problems as well, which will require you to pick a tire with a smaller sidewall height so that it fits on your vehicle.
To learn more about new tires, reach out to a local auto shop.