If you drive in snow and ice frequently, then having the right tires is crucial. But when looking at tires for these conditions, should you go with bigger and wider tires or smaller and narrower tires? The answer might not be as simple as you think. But you're in luck because we did the research to help you out.
Believe it or not, narrower tires actually provide more grip when driving in snow and ice. Due to narrower tires having high surface pressure, they are able to cut through the snow and grip the road better. In addition, narrower tires will grip through slush and loose snow better than wider tires.
This isn't to say that bigger and wider tires don't have their benefits on the road. In this article, we will take a closer look at why narrow tires have the upper hand when driving in winter conditions. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about tire size and road conditions, so let's hit the road!
Are Narrow Tires Better Than Wide Tires In Snow And Ice?
It's understandable why it can be confusing trying to figure out what type of tire is best for driving in different conditions. However, when it comes to snow and ice, narrower tires actually provide more grip on the road.
This may be confusing, as bigger tires usually mean more surface area to grip the road. However, narrow tires do better in snow, slush, and ice due to their higher surface pressure. What that means is that the weight of the car is more evenly distributed on a narrower tire, providing more grip on the road.
To put it simply, narrower tires are able to cut through the snow and ice better than wider tires. So, if you live in an area where you frequently deal with winter weather conditions, it's best to equip your car with narrower tires.
Depending on the rims that you already have on your car, you may not have a lot of choices when it comes to the tire width. But if you're in the market for new rims and tires, then it's worth considering getting narrower tires for a better grip on the road in winter conditions.
A lot of car owners also opt for having a set of tires and rims just for winter. This way, you can have your regular set of tires and rims for driving in the warmer months and a separate set of narrower tires and rims for when the winter weather hits.
This is a great option for people who live in regions that have four seasons. Not only will you be able to get the best grip possible for driving in winter conditions, but you'll also be able to save your regular tires from any wear and tear that may occur from driving in harsh winter weather.
What Are Bigger Tires Good For?
Bigger and wider tires have benefits of their own. First, wider tires will provide more grip on dry roads and when driving off road. If you frequently drive on winding highways, then wider tires are the way to go.
Wider tires also have a larger contact patch. That means that they will provide better braking and cornering than narrower tires. So, if you're looking for performance driving, then wider tires are the best option.
However, bigger tires do have a high risk of hydroplaning. That's because there is more contact with the water on the road, which can cause the car to lose traction and slide. So, if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, then it's best to stick with narrower tires.
Are Bigger Tires Smoother?
A bigger tire with a smaller rim will provide a smoother ride. That's because there is more tire to absorb the bumps on the road. So, if you're looking for a smoother ride, then bigger tires are the way to go.
Some vehicle owners opt for a big rim, but that means a low-profile tire. While this may look good, it doesn't provide the best ride quality. The reason being is that there isn't enough air in the tire to absorb the bumps on the road.
Bigger tires also have a higher load capacity. That means that they can carry more weight than smaller tires. So, if you frequently drive with a lot of cargo or passengers, then bigger tires are the best option.
Are Bigger Tires More Expensive Than Narrow Tires?
Due to bigger tires having more rubber, they are usually more expensive than narrower tires. So, if you're on a budget, then it's best to stick with narrower tires.
Another reason that narrow tires are cheaper is due to supply. Most factory vehicles will come with a narrow tire with a high profile. As a result, they are produced in higher quantities, which drives the price down.
On the other hand, bigger tires are usually specially ordered. This goes back to supply and demand. Since they aren't as common, they are less produced, which drives the price up.
However, if you are looking for a look more than anything else, then you may be willing to pay the extra cost for a bigger tire.
What's The Best Tire For You?
The best tire width for you depends on your driving needs. If you live in an area with harsh winter conditions, then it's best to go with narrower tires for the best grip on the road.
If you're looking for performance driving, then wider tires are the way to go. As mentioned earlier, they provide better braking and cornering.
And finally, if you're looking for a smoother ride, then bigger tires are the best option. But keep in mind that they may be more expensive than narrower tires.
The best thing to do is talk to a tire professional to see what type of tires would be best for your specific driving needs. They will be able to recommend the best width, material, and tread pattern for your vehicle.
Do Bigger Tires Affect Steering?
While bigger tires may provide more grip and a smoother ride, they can also affect your car's steering. That's because they increase the car's weight, which makes it harder to turn.
Bigger tires will also affect the acceleration of the vehicle and its top speed. That's because they create more drag, are harder to rotate, and are heavier.
If the new tires also increase in height, then it can decrease the stability of the car. That's because the center of gravity will be higher, which makes it more likely to roll over.
It's important to keep these things in mind when choosing new tires for your car. You may want to go with a narrower tire if you frequently drive in tight spaces or on winding roads.
Will Bigger Tires Affect Gas Mileage?
Going back to the added weight of bigger tires, they will also affect your car's gas mileage. The extra weight will cause the engine to work harder, which will use more fuel.
It may not be a huge difference, but over time, it will start to add up. For consumers who tow frequently or drive in off-road conditions, the decrease in gas mileage may not be worth the benefits of bigger tires.
Narrow tires, on the other hand, are not only lighter but have less wind resistance. As you are traveling down the road, the wind pushes against the car, which causes drag. The narrower the tire, the less surface area there is for the wind to push against.
As a result, your car will use less fuel, as it won't have to work as hard to overcome the resistance.
Do Bigger Tires Wear Down Faster?
There is an ongoing debate about whether or not bigger tires wear down faster. While it may seem like they would due to the increased surface area, that's not always the case.
Since bigger tires rotate slower than narrow tires, they actually last longer. That's because there is less friction and heat buildup, which causes tire wear.
A narrow tire, on the other hand, will rotate several more times than a bigger tire in the same amount of time. This causes more friction and heat buildup, which will wear the tires down faster.
Read more: Do Bigger Tires Last Longer?
Do Bigger Tires Affect Speedometer?
A taller tire will cause the speedometer to read slower than the actual speed. That's because the distance traveled per revolution is greater, so it will take longer to travel a mile.
How much the speedometer is affected depends on the size of the tire. Nonetheless, you could be thinking you are going to the speed limit when you are actually exceeding it.
You can have your speedometer calibrated by taking it to a professional. Or, if you have the right tools, you can do it yourself.
Whether or not you should get bigger tires for your car depends on your specific needs. If you're looking for increased grip, braking, and cornering, then wider tires are the way to go. However, for winter driving, you may want to stick with narrower tires.
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