Standard tire types may look identical, but they’re not. When shopping for a new set, here’s how to find the size that fits your car.
Type of vehicle vs. tire size
The size of the tires on your vehicle depends on the model.
- Every car is different, and tires selected to maximize performance and handling will vary from one model to another.
Some vehicles have bigger and wider tires.
- For example, cargo van tires can have a width of 275 millimeters; while a regular four-door sedan can have tires with a width of 215 millimeters.
However, the tire size doesn’t only depend on the size of the vehicle.
- Larger tires can also be desirable for aesthetic purposes, and this has led more and more auto manufacturers to add plus-sizing as a factory option.
Small or large tires?
The size of your tires affects the appearance of your car, but it’s also about performance.
- Smaller tires offer a quieter ride and better impact resistance to uneven road surfaces, such as potholes and bumps. Furthermore, there’s less risk of hydroplaning on smaller tires, since the weight of the vehicle is distributed over a smaller surface area.
- Larger tires provide better grip and improve braking and cornering performance. The downside is they are heavier and tend to wear faster.
Note that the tire size is specified on the outside sidewall of the tire itself. The series of letters and numbers located there may look like hieroglyphics to you. They can be difficult to decipher, but they will tell you everything you need to know.
- If in doubt, do not hesitate to ask an expert to interpret them for you and explain their meaning.
What to remember
If your car doesn’t have four identical tires, be sure to check their compatibility.
- Some models of tires, because of their size, might affect the performance of the car once installed. Seek expert advice from a mechanic before changing a tire.
On the other hand, know that tire prices will vary according to size.
- Generally speaking, smaller tires are less expensive than larger tires.
Finally, if you want to change the rims, whether standard or customized, ensure the dimensions correspond in size and fit to the tires you install. If not, you’ll have to make adjustments.
Many manufacturers and auto body shops have equivalency charts to help you choose an appropriate model of rim for your vehicle.