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Car Buying

Wheel Size: Why It's Important

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

If you're in the market for a new car, you've probably noticed the many wheel sizes and styles available. If you've wondered why wheel size matters, we're here to help. We've listed a few reasons why you'll want to pay attention to wheels when you choose your next vehicle.

Comfort

Wheel sizing is one of the biggest factors in ride comfort. Many shoppers don't realize this when they choose the biggest wheels available. While the largest wheels often look the best, they can have a big impact on ride comfort.

There's a reason: Large wheels tend to come with thin tires. As a result, there isn't as much tire to take the brunt of an impact with a pothole or road debris. That means larger wheels often decrease driver and passenger comfort. Also, automakers tend to offer larger wheels on performance-oriented cars with sport-tuned suspension, further hampering ride quality.

Resale Value

Although bigger wheels may lead to a bone-jarring ride, they might also help you sell your car. Most buyers prefer how bigger wheels look, so they are willing to pay more for larger wheel sizes. That's also true among new cars, as automakers sometimes charge thousands of dollars for upgraded wheels. The result is that larger wheels can earn you big bucks when it comes time to sell.

It's not just big wheels: The type of wheel you choose also matters for resale value. Some of today's models offer shoppers a choice between alloy wheels and steel wheels with hubcaps. The main differences are: Alloy wheels are lighter, and many shoppers think they look better than "steelies." As a result, we would go with alloys to maximize resale value unless they're expensive.

Style

Of course, choosing a wheel is also about style. For some, style is irrelevant. Others don't even consider wheel size or design when they think about style, preferring instead to consider the car's overall appearance.

But for those who want to be as stylish as possible, a big wheel is the only way to go. Yes, you have to live with the harsher ride, but that's a price most style-minded shoppers are willing to pay to look great.

Conclusion

Choosing a wheel can be more complicated than you thought. If it's style and resale value you're after, a larger wheel is the one to pick. But we caution against choosing wheels that are too big, as your ride quality will suffer.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Wheel Size: Why It's Important