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Upgrading to Big Wheels and Tires and Everything Else You Need

Stephanie writes for 4WheelOnline. As a car enthusiast, she loves writing about anything automotive.


The wheels and tires are like the shoes of a truck or SUV. Just like shoes, they complete the overall look and also characterize the purpose, in this case, of your vehicle. Let's say you're going on a trail hiking trip, so you are not likely to use those loafers. You need something sturdy, won't easily slip, and is comfortable even if you walk onto puddles, rocks, or boulders.

It is pretty much the same with wheels and tires. Upgrading to bigger ones is usually associated with trucks and SUVs to make them off-road ready. Also, they look way cooler than stock wheels.

A vehicle is made up of tons of different moving parts, and each one affects the performance of the others. Because of this, upgrading one component involves how the other functions. One of the most common modifications in a vehicle is switching to bigger wheels and tires. After all, bigger is better, right?

If you have upgraded your tires and wheels to bigger ones or are planning to do so, read on. Let's look at the benefits of upsizing the wheels and tires of your vehicle. In turn, let's also deal with its effects on the performance and make sure you're driving safely with the upgrade.

Why upgrade to bigger wheels and tires?

Upgrading to bigger wheels and tires makes the most sense if you use your vehicle for off-roading. With this, there are several reasons to upsize your wheels and tires.

Increased ground clearance

Getting bigger wheels and tires increases the overall height of your truck or SUV. As a result, it also increases the vehicle's ground clearance. It means that your under-chassis and other components do not hit obstructions on the trail like rocks and boulders. These elements bumping against the under-chassis parts of the vehicle may cause severe damage and can cost a lot for repairs.

Easier to go through rough terrain

Aside from ground clearance, bigger wheels and tires make it easier to roll through rough terrains. This happens because bigger tires grip more to the ground due to the larger surface area of the rubber that comes in contact with pavement or dirt.

Helps get through floodwaters

Since upsized wheels and tires add height to the vehicle, they can help get through low floodwaters compared to those with stock wheels. Although braving to get through water is very dangerous as it can dislodge vehicles, having bigger and heavier truck tires gives you a better fighting chance to roll through it unscathed. The added height can help prevent the water from entering your exhaust pipes or even inside the cabin. Additionally, bigger truck wheels are generally heavier and can aid in keeping the tires in contact with the ground. Bigger tires also usually have deeper tread patterns to help water to scatter more to prevent hydroplaning.


Admit it. You can't help but get a good look at trucks and SUVs with bigger wheels and tires. They give the vehicle a more aggressive look and stance. Massive tires stand out from the crowd. Plus, they go to show that you know how to maximize the capabilities of your 4x4.

Increased traction

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Both the weight and surface area of your tires play an essential role in maintaining better traction. Larger tires have a better grip on the pavement than stock tires. This gives your vehicle better stability plus easier control and handling even on rough terrains.

Effects of bigger wheels and tires on vehicle performance

Now that you have the most extraordinary combination of wheels and tires, what's next?

Since you made them more prominent, it also means more unsprung weight for your vehicle. Unsprung weight is the mass of vehicle components not supported by the suspensions. Vehicle suspensions generally have springs. In this case, unsprung weight is not supported with these springs. These components include the wheels, tires, and braking mechanisms. The change in the unsprung weight of your vehicle will likely affect the performance of the other auto parts.

Manufacturers crafted vehicles with components that optimize performance efficiency. This is why changing to larger wheels and tires involves shifts in how your truck or SUV generally behaves. Here are some of the changes that you can expect in your modification:

Reduced acceleration

Reduced vehicle acceleration is expected because of the added weight and tire grip. The larger surface area of rubber in contact with the ground can cause more drag and friction. You may notice that it requires more power to accelerate your vehicle with bigger tires than when you use the stock ones.

Greater need for braking power

Brake systems essentially act on the wheels of the vehicle. The combination of bigger wheels and tires results in more substantial torque. Torque is the force coming from rotational motion. Plus, bigger wheels and tires are generally heavier. The additional torque and weight require more energy to stop. Because of this, you may need more braking power.

Lower fuel economy

With the additional weight resistance and the drag that comes with your wheels and tires, your engine needs to work harder to get them rolling. You may need to step up on the gas more to get your truck or SUV up to the speed you want. Because of this, you may notice lower fuel economy when you upgrade to a more significant set of wheels than your stock.

Difference in handling

When you upsize your tires, the handling of the vehicle also changes. As each tire rotates, it covers a longer distance and makes it harder to change directions. The braking distance can also vary with the additional torque, weight, and grip. Additionally, larger tires can limit the vehicle's steering angle. It highly depends on the size of your wheels and tires in relation to the size of the wheel well. When the tires tilt as you steer, they may bump on the insides of the wheel well and limit the steering angle.

Inaccurate speedometer reading

Speedometers count the revolution of your tires based on the measure around their surface. It also means that bigger tires rotate slower while covering a longer distance. Your truck or SUV's speedometer may read this as if you are moving slower than you really are.

Potential void of warranty

You should first review your vehicle's warranty when changing your wheels and tires. Although essentially, changing them does not necessarily void your entire warranty but maybe just for some of the components. Some parts of your warranty may get void depending on the percentage of upsizing. An increase greater than 3% in the size of the wheels and tires can take a toll on the other components of the vehicle like the engine, gearing, and suspensions.

What else to do after upgrading to bigger wheels and tires

Knowing the shifts in the performance of your 4x4 is one thing, but ensuring your safety when upsizing your wheels and tires is as important. Depending on the size of tire and wheel packages you choose, you may also need to upgrade the other parts of your vehicle. Here are some of the components you can consider:

Brake system

It is always better to be safe than sorry. You should seriously consider upgrading your brake mechanisms, knowing that your stock's braking power may not be as efficient anymore. There are performance brake components in the market made to amp up your vehicle's braking power to match your upsized tires and wheels.

  • Brake pads utilize friction applied to the rotors to stop the wheels from turning. The added weight and torque from the upsized wheels and tires require more friction to stop the vehicle rolling. As a result, the brake may get easily worn out because of the heat and excessive friction. Performance brake pads use other wear-resistant materials. There are also wider or thicker brake pads to strengthen the stopping power when they come in contact with the rotors.
  • Rotors are the discs located at the back of the wheels. As the brake pads press against the rotors, much heat is generated because of the friction. Too much heat can cause wear and tear for both the rotors and the brake pads. You can consider performance rotors to lessen the heat between these components. Some types of performance rotors are drilled (those that have holes), slotted, dimpled, or a combination of these types. The indentations on the surface of the rotors create air pockets that help cool the contact with performance brake pads.
  • Calipers are the mechanisms where the brake pads are attached and clamp the rotors to stop the wheels from turning. Performance calipers are generally stiffer. They utilize different components to strengthen the clamp pressure against the rotors. Some calipers have bigger pistons, multiple pistons, or staggered pistons. These types of calipers are manufactured to increase the braking power and lessen the heat from the friction between the brake pads and rotors.

Recalibrate vehicle computerized controls and sensors

With the modification of the wheels and tires of your truck or SUV, you may need to have some of its computerized controls and sensors recalibrated.

  • Speedometer - The speedometer may incorrectly read the vehicle's speed because of the slower tire rotation when you upsize. Recalibrating the speedometer records the size of your new wheels and tires so that it can sense the correct number of cycles and, in effect, give an accurate speed reading.
  • ABS - This stands for anti-lock braking system. Its purpose is to prevent the wheels from locking when you apply the brakes that limit the driver's ability to control the vehicle. The additional weight, torque, and drag from the bigger tires and wheels installed may lessen the power of your ABS to gauge the amount of braking it needs to apply on the wheels to prevent them from locking.
  • Traction control - Like the ABS, traction control is another safety feature of most vehicles to keep them from skidding or losing traction. This control also reads the spin of your tires to make sure that the vehicle's speed still maintains enough contact between the tires and the ground. Recalibrating the traction control with the new size of your wheels and tires can help it better sense the vehicle's speed.

Get excellent quality parts for your ride

Upsizing your truck or SUV’s tire and wheel set can undoubtedly add to your vehicle's aesthetic appeal and overall function. However, it is essential to make sure you drive your vehicle safely in any road or weather conditions.

It is essential to determine whether you'll be needing to upgrade other components in your vehicle for a comfortable and safe ride, every time. Do your research on quality brands and reputable auto supply stores like 4WheelOnline so you can pick all the right parts you need.

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