Do Tires Affect Acceleration, Speed, And Performance?

You won't get very far without tires on your vehicle, but do they do more than get you from point A to B? If you're wondering whether your tires affect other aspects of driving like acceleration, speed, and performance, you've come to the right place. We've researched the topic in-depth and have an answer for you. 

Tires do affect a vehicle's acceleration, speed, and performance. The size, air pressure, and type of tire all play a part in how the tire affects acceleration, speed, and performance. 

So you now know that tires can affect several things, but keep reading as we delve into the details about how. We'll also answer some other questions you might have about tires and how they affect your vehicle. 

Black sports car motion country road, Do Tires Affect Acceleration, Speed, And Performance?

How Tires Affect Acceleration, Speed, and Performance

Tires affect acceleration, speed, and performance differently. Some are adverse effects, while others are positive. It may not be surprising that your tire's condition can have an impact on your vehicle, but the size of the tire, tire pressure, and tread can all be a factor. 

Tire Size

Tire size can have a lot of effects on a vehicle. For example, some people like the idea of adding larger tires to their vehicles. Often, it's for aesthetic reasons, but they can also play a part in how your vehicle runs. Installing larger tires can affect your speedometer, suspension, acceleration, and how much control you have of your car, and that's to name a few things. 

Do you have to recalibrate your speedometer for larger tires?

You should recalibrate your speedometer for larger tires. You should also recalibrate your speedometer if you install smaller tires than the car was initially designed with.

When a vehicle is made, the speedometer is calibrated to the installed tire size. If you install a larger tire, the vehicle will have to travel further to complete one rotation which is how the speedometer calculates your speed. Therefore, your speedometer will read slower than moving and vice versa for smaller tires if you install larger tires. 

Modern cars may offer an option for you to recalibrate your speedometer yourself. However, you can also visit an auto shop and have a professional do it for you. Having an accurate speedometer is very important!

Do bigger tires affect suspension?

Bigger tires can affect the suspension of your vehicle. Your car's suspension plays a large part in keeping the car stable and comfortable for both drivers and passengers. Suspension allows you to maneuver bumpy roads safely, but your suspension is directly related to your tires.

If you install tires that are too big and hit a large bump in the road, you may cause damage to your vehicle's suspension or even the frame of the car.  

Do bigger tires use more gas?

Bigger tires can use more gas because they can be heavy and bulky. Also, since they are heavier and bulkier, bigger tires have a large rolling resistance. This means that it will take more effort for the vehicle to move and get going.

The heavier the vehicle, the more gas is used. However, that being said, bigger tires do not always decrease a vehicle's gas mileage, but this depends on several factors and will vary depending on the type of vehicle you have. 

Will bigger tires hurt my transmission?

Adding bigger tires than what was initially intended for your vehicle can cause problems with your transmission. You might notice your transmission start to slip, and it may even suffer from a shortened lifespan. Transmissions are pricey if they have to be rebuilt, so you should consider whether adding bigger tires to your vehicle is worth the risk.

If you decide to add bigger tires, you should consider getting your transmission re-geared to accommodate them. This will ensure the vehicle can operate smoothly on the bigger tires, and you'll be less likely to see a loss in power when you accelerate. 

What's the advantage of bigger tires?

Despite some of the negatives of adding bigger tires to your vehicle, there are also some positives. Some positives include the clearance to the ground, further viewing, and better handling on rougher surfaces.

Ground Clearance & Further Viewing

A 1984 Toyota pickup truck covered with mud on dirt trails

When you add bigger tires to your vehicle, you create more space between the undercarriage and the ground. This can prove useful if you spend a lot of time off-roading in your vehicle. It'll help you traverse bumps and ground you might have previously not been able to maneuver. Of course, adding bigger tires also allows you to see farther, so you'll be able to see some of the obstacles you might be up against sooner. 

Better Handling

Gravel splashing from rally race car drift on track

If you opt for tires too tall, you might lower your ability to control the vehicle. However, wider tires offer more area and more friction to increase grip on road surfaces like gravel. So, if you are trying to increase handling ability on tricky surfaces, opt for wider instead of taller tires. 

Tire Pressure

Your tire pressure can also affect the way your vehicle operates. Most cars require air pressure to be between 30 to 35 psi. Newer vehicles often have this information on the dash menu, but most vehicles list the tire's recommended pressure on a sticker on the inside of the door. When the pressure gets lower than the recommended amount, it can affect acceleration and vehicle performance. You can check your tire pressure using a simple device. 

Click here to see a Tire Pressure Gauge on Amazon.

Does low tire pressure affect acceleration?

Low tire pressure can affect acceleration, but it might not be in the way you would think. When a tire has low pressure, more of its surface is in contact with the ground. This increased surface area allows more grip and allows your vehicle to accelerate quicker. However, continuously driving with low tire pressure can cause your tires to degrade.

Does low tire pressure affect vehicle performance?

When your vehicle's tire is underinflated or overinflated, stability and gas mileage are affected. The US Department of Energy states that for every drop in 1 psi below the recommended pressure, your gas mileage will decrease by 0.2%. However, that doesn't mean increasing your tires pressure will result in better gas mileage. Overinflating your tires will result in a bumpy, unstable drive. 

Tire Tread

Tire wear concept. Danger of using old car bald tire with very little tread remaining

The condition of your tire's tread can affect your acceleration, performance, and your speedometer. It is essential to keep your tires properly maintained to get the best performance out of not only your tires themselves but the rest of the vehicle as well. 

Tire Tread And Acceleration

If the tread on your tires is too low, the tires may slip if you try to accelerate too fast. Losing traction will decrease your vehicle's ability to accelerate at its usual capability. This often happens when the road is wet but can also happen in dry conditions if your tires are very bald. 

Tire Tread And Vehicle Performance

When your vehicle slips because of low tread, the engine has to do more work to move the vehicle. If the engine is working harder than usual, it will burn more gas. Thus, reducing your vehicle's gas mileage. 

Tire Tread And Your Speedometer

Just like bigger tires can affect your speedometer, the tread on your tires can as well. The speedometer reading is based on the circumference of the tire. When your tread has worn down, your tire is essentially smaller in circumference. Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, published a reader's question about this particular scenario.

The answer showed that driving with half an inch less of tread can affect a speedometer reading up to 3mph while traveling at 65mph. Remember, when your tire is smaller, the speedometer will read that you are going faster than you are. 

Tire tread can also compromise your safety. Don't believe us? Check out our other blog post on the topic here: Here's Why Driving with Bald Tires Can Kill You.

Final Thoughts

Bottom view of large off-road car (Jeep Wrangler) wheel on landscape, How Long Should Jeep Tires Last?

Tires can affect many aspects of your vehicle, including speed, acceleration, and performance. To get the best out of your vehicle, you should follow both size and tire pressure recommendations. If you choose to change or modify the tires on your vehicle, make sure to adjust the other parts of the vehicle that might be affected, such as the speedometer or transmission. 

Hopefully, our article has been informative and answered some questions you might have had. 

For more reading on the topic of tires, check out some of our other blog posts below:

Should Tires Always Be Replaced In Pairs?

Do Tires Degrade Over Time? Even When Not Used?

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