The initial reason people like to modify the look of their vehicle with wheels usually starts with a desire for greater aesthetics. Original Equipment (O.E.) wheels for many applications can be cookie-cutter, and adding your own individual flair to your ride requires an upgrade. Modifying your car's appearance with a new set of wheels can give your car the desired style you are looking for.
Adding a personal touch not only increases the look of the vehicle, but can also enhance it as well. Many, but not all, aftermarket wheels have reduced weight vs. their O.E. counterparts. The initial advantage is in unsprung weight variance. Not only can this affect the overall gas mileage of the vehicle, but also allows the vehicle to respond better, especially on imperfect roads. Lighter wheels allow for less vibrations or adverse feel to resonate in the cabin, which in turn makes for an easier and more stable ride for the passenger.
Additionally, increasing the size of the wheel not only gives the vehicle a more aggressive appearance, but can also affect the handling characteristics. In most cases, when choosing a larger wheel size, the tire size will need to be modified in order to accommodate the difference.
As an example, a 2006 BMW 325i Sedan Base Model comes stock with 205/55R16 tires and 16x6 wheels. If one were to buy a 17" wheel, the initial choice for tire size would shift to 225/45R17. The average size of a 17" wheel for this vehicle would be 17x7.5. While the overall diameter of the tires remains about the same, the 17" size has an advantage in handling due to the tire's larger contact patch. The contact patch (a tire's "footprint") is relative to the width of the tires, and being that the width is 225 vs. 205, you have gained 20 mm in width. This will work very similar on most vehicles. As you increase the wheel size, the width of the wheel also increases. To compensate, the width of the tire increases and the sidewall gets shorter to make up for the extra inch of wheel height. The wider your tires get, the more rubber you have contacting the ground, thus increasing your handling characteristics.
Our Upgrade Garage provides customers with the ability to view tires and wheels on their vehicle. With the example provided above, customer A would like a lightweight 18" wheel with a sporty euro design. Since the BMW 325i is a graphite color, he would like to give it a blended look. Deciding on the OZ Alleggerita HLT in the Matte Graphite Silver finish was the obvious option, giving him the clean, multi-spoke look, that will not only add aesthetics to the vehicle, but also save weight as well! Being that he wants an all-season tire that is aggressive in the snow, he chooses the Continental ExtremeContact DWS in a 225/40R18. And the customer is able to view his new wheels on his vehicle to ensure it's the look he desires!
Note: While building a Tire & Wheel Package in the Upgrade Garage, you select wheels first and then add tires. All packages include Tire Rack's free Hunter Road Force balancing, mounting and all necessary installation hardware.