How Does Wheel Size Affect Speed?

how does wheel size affect speed

Are you going to change wheels on your powerful pickup truck? Plus-size wheels seem to be preferable. With them, your cherished vehicle looks cool and aggressive. However, how does wheel size affect speed? Lets’ discuss the performance, fuel consumption, and torque. Do you need to upgrade the wheels?

Weather Considerations

Large-size wheels do fit and suit your heavy-duty vehicle. They ensure perfect, aggressive look of your truck. However, tires determine a lot of things. They ensure contact with the road, grip with the surface, noise level and riding comfort.

For example, mud tires for truck are preferable for off-road enthusiasts. They secure your rides during your hunting and fishing trips. During any weather conditions, windy, harsh or rainy, they ensure:

  1. Reliable traction with sand and mud.
  2. Balanced performance.
  3. Strong resistance to tears and chips.
  4. Great off-road capabilities.

Mud season comes only in late winter. It’s typical for northern US region that is called New England. Due to melting snow and rain, roads and mountain trails become muddy. In Illinois, wet season is coming to an end in summer. Since September, chance of a muddy day is decreasing. However, probability of rain is about 50%, so it may happen any day.

Here you can see more information about best truck mud tires!

Which Wheel Size to Select?

Look at your original tires. Check the manual. The wheels’ diameter is specified there. All 4 wheels are to be of the same size. It’s a must. Additionally, it’s recommended to install the wheels of the same diameter as the original ones. They differ according to vehicle types and applications.

Types of Tires

Wheel Diameter, in.Best-suited Vehicle Type
R10 – R12motorcycles, electric scooters
R13-R14sedan cars, walking tractors
R15-R17SUVs, light trucks, vans, 4x4 vehicles
R18-R20off-road vehicles (“performance” wheels)

So, standard wheels that match pickup trucks are 15-17-inches in diameter. They are practical and not expensive. The tires are better in the rain, preferable during winter season. Large diameters do suit premium and sports cars.

Meanwhile, 18 vs 19-inch wheels that fit BMW vehicles make the ride more comfortable and soft. They ensure easier control and driving. I think 18-inch ones are stylish and good-looking. So, why larger tires cost more?

Safety Precautions

According to Illinois rules of the road, you are to inspect your vehicle regularly. Truck mud tires are among the most important parts and systems that may affect your safety. A tire failure makes to stop immediately, staying off the brake and check the vehicle condition.

Other important parts and systems that require inspection include:

  • instruments;
  • mirrors;
  • pressure and temperature gauges;
  • voltmeter/ammeter.

Don’t exceed the speed limit that is 65 mph on interstate highways in Illinois. On other highways, you should not drive faster than 55 mph. So, why do bigger wheels go faster? Rotating at the same speed (RPM) than smaller ones, they have a larger circumference. Therefore, your truck covers more distance in the same amount of time.

extreme mud tires for trucks

Wheel Size and Speed Calculator

The basic formula to calculate the circumference is:

C=2pi x R

Do you remember what is pi? This mathematical constant is usually approximated as 3.14159. So, let’s state the circumference values for the most popular tire sizes.

Most Popular Tire Sizes in 2024

Tire Diameter, inCircumference, inRevolutions per mile

Do smaller wheels make a car go faster? Assuming that 63,360 inches are in a mile, we see how many revolutions per mile the certain wheels make. It means that as torque of the truck engine is constant, larger tires promote force reduction. Speed and distance increase.

How Does Tire Size Affect Speedometer?

As larger wheels cover more distance with every revolution, the size does affect both odometer and speedometer. The latter device measures the revolutions per minute (rpm’s) at the transmission. However, the instrument is initially calibrated to the original tires.

When you turn to larger ones, it affects the speedometer accuracy. The device continues calculating the distance that was initially set. Therefore, if you upgrade your vehicle, your speedometer is to be recalibrated.

How does wheel size affect performance? We have already found out that it causes driving force changes that are not beneficial. Larger wheels improve the truck look, however, they:

  • cause acceleration decrease;
  • impact ride quality;
  • make handling harsher;
  • impair braking.

Larger wheels are heavier. Therefore, tires profile is reduced. Additionally, as driving force is reduced, engine and all its parts are to work harder to rotate the wheels. What about fuel consumption?

how does tire size affect speedometer reading

How Does Wheel Size Affect Fuel Economy?

Ride comfort decreases when you install over-sized wheels. Unfortunately, due to higher rolling resistance, more fuel is burned. More energy is required to move the vehicle, start and stop.

Meanwhile, tire sidewalls are to be stronger. Shorter tires are to be wider. Anyway, best wheel size for drag racing should approach original tires dimensions. Rubber quality matters. Off-road trips and racing applications imply high loads and extreme conditions. So, look for the highest UTOG (Uniform Tire Quality Grade) rating.

Top-quality rubber lasts longer. It’s temperature-resistant, showing great traction performance. It’s contingent on the compound hardness. Are there any pros of large-size wheels? This upgrade causes an improvement of:

  • stability;
  • truck’s load;
  • aesthetics;
  • sporty feel.

So, oversized wheels are good on a dry road. They are expensive and not the most cost-efficient. Aiming at great, aggressive look and terrific feel, settle for the upgrade. Meanwhile, due to high load and increased grip, thread life may be reduced. So, don’t forget to maintain your tires.

Tire Maintenance Essentials

Top-quality tires are to last not less than 50,000 miles. What does their regular maintenance include? I would rather call it safety measures. You are to inspect the tires at least monthly. Check their:

  • condition;
  • pressure;
  • thread depth;
  • integrity.

If you notice any fine cracks or deeper cuts on the sidewalls, don’t drive. Repair the tire, replace it or consult a service professional. Meanwhile, pressure is to be measured every day or before every drive. Do it when the tires are cold. The values should not exceed maximum pressure that is specified on the sidewalls.

do wider tires affect gas mileage

Best Way to Inflate Car Tires at Home

If pressure is low, inflate the tires. It’s not difficult. Use a portable air inflator, air compressor or a pump, therefore.

Simple steps how to inflate car tires at home easily:

  • remove its valve cap;
  • check the pressure with a pressure gauge;
  • inflate the tire;
  • adjust the pressure;
  • replace the cap;
  • proceed with the other tires.

The pump is to be securely fastened. Air should not escape. Additionally, try not to lose the valve caps. They are small but essential parts.

General Impression

Do bigger tires make you go faster or slower? Commonly, the change would increase the speed. However, there are a lot of other factors, such as wheel weight and ride quality. So, I would recommend you focus not only on the size but on the tires’ quality. They are to be durable and resistant to sidewall damages. Additionally, don’t forget to check the pressure and inflate the tires regularly. It ensures your safety on the road during your exciting hunting or fishing trips.

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