Wider Tires on Your BMW 3 Series

Friday, July 27, 2012 by Gary Stanley

While moderating the BMW forums, one of the most common questions I answer is in regards to upgrading tires to a larger size. Using a wider size on the same wheel while maintaining the same overall diameter is known in the tire industry as "plus zero" sizing. This is typically done to get a larger contact patch and for an improved cosmetic appearance.

Here is a list of common plus zero sizes on two popular generations of BMW 3 Series vehicles:

E36 (most 1992-1998 BMW 318i, 325i, 328i, 330i models):

  • If you have factory 16" wheels with the Original Equipment size of 205/55R16, you can install 225/50R16 tires with no problem. This is a very common upgrade and fits the wheels well. The plus size maintains the correct overall diameter and load requirements. With this change, you'll gain about an inch in tire width.

Below are two Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tires. The tire on the left is a 205/55R16 and the one the right is size 225/50R16. 

E46 (most 1999-2005 BMW 323i, 325i, 328i, 330i models):

  • With the Original Equipment size of 205/55R16, you can use the plus size of 225/50R16.
  • Owners with the O.E. size of 225/45R17 you can plus size to either 235/40R17 or 235/45R17. With the 235/45R17 size, it's a fit in a vast majority of cases and typically only rubs on a lowered vehicle or a car with worn suspension components.
  • For the Original Equipment size of 225/40R18, the plus size of 235/40R18 will work. This is also a case where the plus size fits in the vast majority of cases and typically only rubs on a lowered vehicle or a car with worn suspension components.

For more information on this topic, read "Plus Size Wheels and Tires."

 

 

Comments on Wider Tires on Your BMW 3 Series

Monday, March 18, 2013 by Trevor G:
Hi Gary,
Thanks for taking my question again. Can you recommend a 'plus zero' size for 235/55R18? Thanks!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 by Gary:
Trevor,

I can check on this for you. What is the year and model of vehicle in question?
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 by Trevor G:
Thanks for checking on this Gary. I have a 2009 Toyota RAV4 Limited V6 with both 17" and 18" alloys.
Is plus zero sizing my 18's overkill? I have decided on either the Pirelli Scorpion Zero Verde in 18", Michelin Latitude Tour HP and Yokohoma Geolander A/T-S on my stock 17" alloys, or Pirelli Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico (the Mercedes H-Speed rated version in plus zero 235/60R17). Thoughts?
Thursday, March 21, 2013 by Gary:
The only other 18" size we have fit on the 2009 Rav4 is 245/55R18 which is an uncommon size with very few choices.

I like the Pirelli Scorpion Verde quite a bit, very good choice!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 by Tom:
I have a 93 bmw e36 325i. It is lowered 1" with Bilstein Sports/H&R> I have 225/45R17 all around. The rears have begun "chewing" the inside corners. Are these too wide?
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 by Gary:
Tom,

We have had no such problems with 225/45R17 on this car. You may want to have the camber setting of your alignment checked.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by Elier:
Hi, I have a 2002 BMW 330i with 18" wheels, 18x8.5 front and 18x9.0 back. What size tires are the best fit for my car if I want to both maintain performance and ride comfort, but most importantly I don't want them to rub!Thanks in advance
Friday, January 3, 2014 by gasper:
Can I install 225/45R17 on my 1999 BMW 318is?
Saturday, January 4, 2014 by Gary:
gasper,

Yes, we have used 225/45R17 on the 1999 BMW 318is with no problem.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/index.jsp?affiliate=FH8
Sunday, January 5, 2014 by T.J.:
Hello Gary - This is interesting and helpful. I have a 2001 BMW 325xi that came with factory 16s. They came optional with a 17" wheel. I bought 17" wheels off of a 2003 BMX X5. What size tire would I need to keep factory diameter, or can I safely go bigger/wider?
Monday, January 6, 2014 by Gary:
T.J.

Unfortunately we do not have any experience or feedback from those installing an X5 wheel on the 325 so I am not sure what size to recommend. We would normally use size 225/45R17 on the aftermarket 17 inch wheels that we sell.
Thursday, February 13, 2014 by Major:
thanx for your information Gary, i have a bmw 318i which currently has size 195/65/R15 tires, what other sizes can you recommenced for plus zero sizing
Thursday, February 13, 2014 by Gary:
Major,

I can check on this for you. What year is your BMW 318i?
Saturday, April 12, 2014 by Daniel:
Greetings, I have a 1995 e36 325i 225-45-r17 front and 235-45-r17 back but I do not like what management feels heavy, slow and consumes a lot of fuel. Recommended me for better handling, and better fuel efficiency? Thank you.

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