Finding Smaller Wheel Sizes for Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Packages

Many of our customers know about the potential advantages of going to a smaller wheel size when selecting a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package. When minus sizing, not only would deep snow traction be enhanced, but the cost of a winter package is usually lower than a package maintaining your vehicle's original size tires and wheels. An additional advantage higher profile tire sizes offer is they feature taller sidewalls and smaller diameter wheels that more easily resist damage associated with winter road hazards and early spring potholes. However, we often receive questions from customers looking for wheels who only see equal or larger sized wheels when shopping, and nothing smaller than what is Original Equipment on their car.

In some cases, the size that's on your vehicle may be the smallest size possible that will still clear your vehicle's brakes. For most cars, it's possible to go smaller, you just have to know where to look. One way is to shop for a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package rather than searching for wheels in our website's wheels section. Tire Rack's Preferred Winter Package often feature alternate sizes that combine smaller diameter wheels with narrower, higher profile tires that have equivalent load capacities and overall diameters. Unfortunately, wide, low profile tires have to "plow" a wide path through deep snow, where narrower tires have an easier time. So if you're likely to drive through deep snow this year, you'll want winter / snow tires and wheels in sizes that better help you.

Your winter tire and wheel sizes should be based on one of the following:

Your Vehicle's Original Equipment Tire and Wheel Size

While not a dimensional advantage, winter tires and wheels in the Original Equipment size to replace your all-season or summer tires will offer more traction in cold temperatures, slush, snow and ice.

The Tire and Wheel Size from Your Vehicle's Base Model

This is often an easy way to select an appropriate narrow tire for your car, van or truck. While this may only provide a small dimensional difference, a smaller combination (for example, 225/50R17-sized tires to 215/60R16-sized tires on 16" wheels) will reduce your cost while increasing your vehicle's wintertime traction.

A Minus Size Tire and Wheel

Minus Sizing combines taller profile tires with smaller diameter wheels.

Begin finding a smaller diameter wheel for your winter driving by searching for Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package!


Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Steve Colburn

Will a 195/65R15 wheel & snow tire package fit my 1998 BMW 323is that came with 225/50R16?
Thursday, December 13, 2012 by ben@tirerack

For recommended winter tire sizes use the 'Winter/Snow Tire & Wheel Package' link in the post. With regard to your particular 15" wheel, you may have to test fit to make sure of brake clearance, which can vary from one wheel to another.
Saturday, April 27, 2013 by frank

I used to be able to upsize to an equal tire diameter....can you still support equivalent tire diameter sizes...? maybe3 I need to sign in first
Tuesday, September 3, 2013 by Dave

wondering if winter tires from 2010 Sanata Fe P215/70 R16 will work on my 2011 Sanata Fe which current has P235/65 R17?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 by ben@tirerack

The '10 and '11 were pretty much the same. So while that size is not one that is officially listed for either one, if they were OK on your '10 they should be OK on the '11.
Sunday, November 3, 2013 by bob

Will my P225/50R 17 Michelin snow tires and wheels used with
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid fit my 2013 Ford Escape Titanium (235/45R 19). As a safe undersized snow tire application ?
Monday, November 4, 2013 by ben@tirerack

Bob, the 225/50R17 would be too small. Proper downsizing would require either 225/60R17 or 235/55R17.
Saturday, December 6, 2014 by Dave Morgan

I have a 2013 VW Passet TDI. Car came with 215/55 R 17.
Can I put 205/55 R 16 for winter on the car.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 by Michael Shoemaker

I own a 2014 Dodge Dart GT. Currently rolling an 18" rim with 40 series tires. Looking for a good winter rim/tire package. Do I go with a 17" rim with 50 series tires? I'm open to your suggestions....please help!
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 by Tire Rack Team


I would recommend the 215/50R17 if going to a 17 inch winter package. The more sidewall the more flex in the tire sidewall the better the snow/ ice traction will be. You could even go to a 205/55R16 with the right wheel which we have listed on our site:
Sunday, January 14, 2018 by Michael Mouzourakis

I still can't understand how i cannot downsize on my 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport (225/40R18) when you can in the WRX and STI with a lot bigger brakes.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 by Tire Rack Team

Michael Mouzourakis: the Subaru Impreza Sport does have a bigger brake than the WRX, as well as a different bolt pattern, but we do not have a 17-inch wheel that will fit for downsizing.

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