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Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at AutoSurgeonInc

Posted August 28, 2014 12:00 PM

A lot of us Lansing drivers like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We're picky about color and body style. We'll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for Michigan motorists to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.

Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.

Fifteen or 16-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, but today, because a lot of Lansing drivers like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with 17 or 18-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of 20 inches or more are also available in Lansing.

If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it's not a do-it-yourself project. There are factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn't jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.

First of all, you need to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don't rub in turns or over bumps. If that's more work than you're willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.

It's not as hard as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can't make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.

Rolling diameter is important because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You'll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Lansing drivers who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.

Further, many vehicles in Lansing are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as safety concerns.

Your friendly and knowledgeable AutoSurgeonInc tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle's computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

So to maintain rolling diameter, you'll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.

To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you'll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many Michigan auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Lansing, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.

Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Lansing roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.

AutoSurgeonInc tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help you select wheels and tires that will suit your driving needs and habits.

For example, if you drive off-road around Lansing, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from damage while you're bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around Michigan, you'll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your friendly and knowledgeable AutoSurgeonInc tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.

Once you've got your new wheels, have your service advisor at AutoSurgeonInc see if you need an alignment. You don't want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at AutoSurgeonInc in Lansing.

Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they'll need slightly higher pressure. You'll need to stay on top of preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to check their pressure at least once a week. If you don't keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also affect your braking and handling performance.

So smile and show off your vehicle around Michigan. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!

AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



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Testimonials

  • reviewicon
    Just a word of thanks for the top notch done to Wema's Carolla and for the thoughtful communication with our Tanzanian exchange student. Not only did you fix her car, but also handled arranging towing, all in a narrow window of time. Wema is delighted to have her car back, running better than ever. Couldn't be more happy with your service!
    , 01/05/2021

  • reviewicon
    My son limped his vehicle into Auto Surgeon's parking lot . The vehicle is on its last leg and we just needed to get it up and running for a few more weeks til my son graduates. The proper repairs were out of the budget so Bill came up with a solution that made sense for this vehicle, Bill didn't have to adapt for us but he did, and the price was more than fair. Don't hesitate to call Auto Surgeon for any repair.
    , 12/04/2020

  • I have passed this place on the bus every day for 6 years and have always gotten a smile out of their sign out front having such nice little positive messages. So when I finally got a car and needed my brakes done, they were my first choice. Not only were they incredibly friendly and professional, they identified what I thought was a minor inconvenience and explained how it could be a problem down the road (pun very much intended) while fixing it for me. I will absolutely be coming back for anything I need done in the future!
    , 10/09/2020

  • reviewicon
    Bill earns a strong recommendation for great customer service and for the excellent repair he did on my car. For all future car needs, Bill will be my first call.

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    My daughter brought her GMC in for a noise in the suspension and a air bag issue- Bill and his staff did a great job in diagnosing and repairing the vehicle with keeping us updated on the process. Thank You

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    My husband has taken his car to Auto Surgeon for many years and has nothing but praise for their expertise and customer service. We both trust that whatever the problem, we're in good hands with Bill and his team. Today it was my car's turn to need repairs. Within 90 minutes of dropping it off, they contacted me with a diagnosis and an estimate. By early afternoon, my car was ready. First-rate experience, start to finish. No one wants car problems, but if you have them, this is the place to go.