A good set of custom wheels can radically change the look of your car. Or the performance of it, depending on what you’re wanting out of them. In Minnesota, though, drivers need to be aware of a few things before setting their eyes on a pair of shiny rims. That’s why Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service has put together a Guide to Picking Custom Wheels to arm you with as much knowledge as possible before diving into the amazing world of car customization.

What is The Purpose of Your Custom Wheels?

Some folks like to go off-roading, while some carry some heavy loads. Others may be towing heavy stuff like trailers. What you do with your vehicle is going to impact what kind of custom wheels you need to get. Whether you’re choosing 15-inch basics or 20-inch plus, you’ll be limited by the kinds of activities you use your car for.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Seems like a simple question, but there are a few things you need to think about. Depending on what kind of wheels you want, you may have to do some modification to your actual car. We’ll talk more about all of that in a minute, but just know that cars are made for the wheels they come with – and any significant change to those will impact anything from brakes to wheel wells to speedometers.

Upsizing Your Wheels

There are literally thousands of custom wheels to choose from. But you’re in luck; not all of them will work for your car. Here are some things to think about when upsizing your wheels:

Rolling Diameter

Rolling diameter is simply the overall height of a tire. When you get bigger tires, you increase your rolling diameter. This will often mean you have to modify your suspension so that they’ll fit without rubbing during turns or over bumps. Not changing the suspension will result in a bumpier ride and poor handling performance – and it can be very, very unsafe.

Rolling diameter also impacts:

  • Speedometer & Odometer: These are programmed to work with your current rolling diameter, so if you increase it, you’ll throw these things off.
  • Anti-lock brakes: Pretty much ever standard car on the road comes with anti-lock brakes. Your rolling diameter needs to stay within three percent of the factory recommendations.

This same idea applies to those trying to get smaller tires than what their car came with.

Not to worry, though. If you’re committed to spending what it takes, Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service may be able to reprogram your vehicle’s computer system to accommodate a bigger rolling diameter.

Offset

The offset of a wheel is the distance from the edge of the wheel to where the wheel bolts onto the axle. Depending on what kind of car you have, you’ll either have zero offset, meaning the wheel is centered on the bolt, or you’ll have positive offset, where the bolt is closer to the front of the wheel.

Vehicles that are lifted have to have negative offset, meaning it’s near the back of the wheel, to accommodate for a larger tire. Your offset will have to be adjusted to fit bigger wheels onto your car.

Picking Your Tires

When it comes to choosing the right set of wheels for your car, there are some things you’ll want to think about. Check out a few of those below.

Large Rims

If you want to increase the size of your rims, you’ll want to pick low-profile tires. This means that there’s less rubber between your rims and the road, which may allow you to avoid having to make major adjustments to other parts of your car’s systems.

Unfortunately, this also means you won’t be going off-roading any time soon. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as off-roading can quickly tear into those shiny new rims.

Off-Roading or Towing Tires

Speaking of off-roading, let’s look into what kind of wheel you’d want for that. The answer is high-profile tires. There’s plenty of sidewall – or rubber in between your rim and the road – to protect your car from the impact of going off the pavement. Bigger sidewall means less room in your wheel well, though, and the domino effect of things you’ll need to change about your car to accommodate them.

This same idea applies to those who tow a lot of weight on a consistent basis. You’ll need to make sure that the “load rating” on your tires is at least equal to the kind of weight you’re carrying.

Tire Pressure Tip

Just a tip: Remember that when getting larger wheels, they’ll be less likely to hold air for long. You’ll need to keep them properly inflated, so check them at least once a week. Low tire pressure on any type of tire is bad enough, but large tires low on air will wear a lot faster and impact your braking and handling performance.

Seek Professional Help

There are so many different things to think about when choosing new wheels. Whether that’s everything we’ve mentioned throughout this blog – or a few really technical things we didn’t add – bottom line is that unless you really know what you’re doing, ask for help.

Whether you come to Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto throughout Minnesota and North Dakota, or you find someone else, the point is that you’ll most likely need help. Especially when it comes to post-new wheels. Alignments, tire pressure tips, and more are a just a few of the extras you’ll need to know about.

At Kennedy, we can take the technical out of it. We’ll mount, adjust and customize your wheels exactly how you want them. Our technicians will determine your common driving habits, what “look” you like and what you’re trying to get out of these new wheels – then we’ll fit them properly and fully prepare your car to handle the change.

Stop by a shop near you to get going with new custom wheels!

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