Bigger Rims: The Side Effects

In our previous posting, we explained the different aspects of a wheel and its form of measurements. In this article, we focus on what the effects are, should you decide to upgrade to bigger wheels.

Bigger doesn’t always mean better and this applies to the rims on your car as well. Generally, the rule of thumb is either to upsize or downsize by ONE inch. And while it’s undeniably appealing esthetically to jump a few inches, the setbacks of bigger rims will most certainly outweigh the benefits (like better handling and stability) it would have on your car.

Such drawbacks, may also hinder the sale of your car to those with even the vaguest of mechanical understanding. Here are three of the most basic side effects of “over upsizing” your rims and how it could possibly be perceived by the next owner.


Bigger Rims, Bigger Tyres

While bigger rims may be esthetically appealing, scrapping off your wheels arch covers isn't. Credit:

While upsizing to a set of larger rims may be a one-off financial setback, the same does not apply to the tyres that match. There isn’t unfortunately, a tyre manufacturer that produces tyres that will never wear out, yet.

So bigger rims usually mean bigger tyres and the larger the tyres, the more expensive they are. A respectable set of 17-inch tyres for example, is, give or take, upwards of SGD 180 per piece. Multiply that small hole in your wallet by four and you’re looking at months of bread and water. Imagine what it’d cost for a set of 18, 19, or even 20-inch tyres.

And when you decide to sell, what do you think would go on in the minds of the next buyer knowing that he or she would have to fork out all those SGD’s every couple of years, at best, just for tyres? Or worse even more SGD’s just to swap a pair of standard rims back on?


Higher Fuel Consumption & Maintenance

Unless you’re going for lightweight rims, which cost an arm and a leg, bigger rims equal more weight. This unnecessary increase in weight is a strain to the engine and drivetrain as both have to “work even harder” to provide the same level performance.



As a result, it’s possible that you’d experience a dip in performance and fuel efficiency with every tank of fuel. A quick word with a couple of local mechanics even shed light on the fact that even your wheel bearings could be affected and in the long run may require replacements more often than it’s supposed to.

If you were to fit 17-inch wheels on a fuel efficient hatchback, it would be a huge no-no to prospective buyers. It’s obvious isn’t it? The appeal is lost if a car that’s built to sip fuel doesn’t provide a healthy return of mileage anymore per full tank of fuel.


Ride comfort compromised


With bigger rims, more often than not you’d be opting for lower profile tires so that the ensemble fits snugly into your wheel arch. However, the problem with low profile tyres is that it’s not capable of absorbing as much impact and vibration as fatter, thicker tires can – which is like wearing a shoe with thin soles; you’d be able to feel the rocks and gravels more than you would in a shoe with thick soles.

While the ride would be noticeably bumpier, most people don’t realise that the absorbers and springs could also be strained a lot more. To an extent, bigger and heavier rims also means that there’s more unsprung weight, which is weight not supported by the vehicle’s springs. This forces the springs and absorbers to deal with more weight than it’s designed to and could pose an unnecessary durability concern.


This was what happened to a rim wrapped with 45 profile tire after a run in with a pothole. Credit:

Having thin sidewalls on a heavy car can also cause a major setback when the vehicle runs over a hard object or a pothole at speed which some of you might have already experienced. Upon impact, the thin sidewall can actually get pinched between the object and the weight of the larger rims; damaging the tyres, rims and possibly even causing a blowout.

While the benefits of larger rims might appeal to some, a prospective buyer would see this as a deterrence. They would probably have to swap back an original or smaller set of rims to regain some ride comfort and ultimately bring costs down. Unless the rest of your vehicle is in tip top shape, the issue of oversized wheels on a regular sedan can be quite a put off to the used car market.

On a side note, recalibrating your speedometer is to an extent necessary if you decide to upsize by a few inches. This is because larger rims rotating at the same speed as smaller rims actually mean the vehicle is moving faster than the speedometer indicates.

Be sure to consider these factors the next time you decide to upsize your rims, and the potential effects it could have in the eyes a prospective buyer should you decide to sell. Unless of course, you’re willing to go through the trouble of swapping back to standard units before selling them off.

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