Automotive Oddity: Correctly Staggered Tires on a Front-Wheel Drive Car

Staggered wheels and tires have become popular both for Original Equipment and aftermarket packages. 

The most common stagger is to have the wider tires on the back and the narrower ones on the front. This is perfect for rear-wheel drive cars, especially those that have a mid- or rear-engine configuration. With all the weight and power out back, they need a much bigger rear tire.

On front-wheel drive cars, which already tend to understeer, putting a wider tire on the back is a detriment to handling. 90% of the braking, all of the power delivery, and most of the weight-bearing is being done by the smaller tires. The overworked front tires give up first when pushed, and the car wants to plow straight ahead, inspite of the steering input telling it to turn.

Enter the Pontiac Grand Prix GXP: it has staggered tires, but the front is the wide one. This looks a bit odd, but it is the only way that staggering makes sense for front wheel drive. In a triumph of logic over style, the wide Pontiac tires are on the axle where they are doing the most good. 

Comments

Friday, March 25, 2011 by James Cabbell

woulld love a staggerd set of rims for my 09 Mini cooper 17's
Monday, February 15, 2016 by marc daryl

i have a question,i have 2.4 liter 4cylinder santa fe 2016 front wheel drive,its ok to change the size of tire with 255/40/R20 at the back and 245/35/R20 at front???
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 by Tire Rack Team

Marc, Both tires you have listed have shorter overall diameter than anything we can recommend. We don't normally see or recommend a staggered setup on a front-wheel drive vehicle. That being said, if you are certain you want to stagger, we would recommend using sizes 245/45R20 and 255/45R20.
Monday, February 29, 2016 by Justin

I'm interested in running 255/40/17 (front) and 225/45/17 (rear) for a performance setup (track/autoX) on my 2014 Civic Si. I'm curious if you guys have tested anything like this and if something like more oversteer will be produced.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 by Tire Rack Team

Justin, Though this is not something we have tested, the narrower tire in the rear would make the Civic more inclined to rotate into oversteer. -- sonny@tirerack.com
Friday, March 4, 2016 by marc dary

thanks tire rack team!! but im wondering what will be the problem if i stagger my front wheel drive wheels it can affect the engine performance???
Monday, March 7, 2016 by Tire Rack Team

Marc Dary, You can stagger a front wheel drive vehicle by placing the wider tires in the front. You will however want to be careful to maintain the proper rolling diameter when you choose the wider tire. Ben was referencing the tendency for individuals to place the wider tires on the rear even on front wheel drive vehicles.
Monday, March 21, 2016 by marc daryl

thanks tire rack team!i have one more question for my santa fe 2016 front wheel drive,i want to lower my spring,any suggestion?
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 by Tire Rack Team

Marc Daryl, Unfortunately we do not have any options for lowering your 2016 Santa Fe at this time.
Saturday, November 5, 2016 by Ricky

Hi I have a 15 Acura TLX, is it ok for me to put a 225/50 R17 in front wheel and 225/55 R17 in rear Wheel?
Monday, November 7, 2016 by Tire Rack Team

Ricky, It would be a bit of an odd setup, putting your front tire at about an inch shorter than the rear. The biggest concern however would be load capacity.

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