By on January 15, 2021

wheels

The debate rages on, whether 22-inch, 24-inch, even 26-inch or larger wheels, and tires without a lot of sidewall to them, are okay or not.

 

wheels

Is this appealing in certain parts of the country, such as Arizona, California, Texas, and throughout the South all the way down through Florida? Are the weather conditions such that few, if any, lifted trucks and SUVs in the rust belt are inclined to run these big wheel and tire combinations?

wheels

We each have our preferences, the types of vehicles we like, the year, make, and model, and sometimes this discussion can get fairly heated. But nothing seems to set off enthusiasts from one camp or the other as much as wheels and tires, especially in combination with big lifts, and very detailed undercarriages.

wheels

Some call them brodozers and mall crawlers, descriptions less than kind and oftentimes meant to provoke a reaction from the owner or fan of these lifted trucks. Surprisingly, there seems to be less commotion caused by lowered trucks that have big rims and tires sometimes described as rubber bands, perhaps because they aren’t expected to do something else, such as go off-road, or pull a trailer, or carry a load.

What’s your take on this controversy, and do you see any difference between lifted and lowered trucks that run big wheels, and tires that aren’t in proportion to them?

[Images: © 2021, J. Sakurai/TTAC]

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68 Comments on “QOTD: Big Wheels, Small Sidewall – Yes or No?...”


  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Idiots gonna idiot. But honestly, I truly don’t care what other people do to their cars.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    To each his own, honestly. I’ll stay away from any dik size comments because they are ridiculous and wrong, but a lifted bro-dozer with big wheels and small sidewalls and a detailed undercarriage hasn’t been an indicator of good social behavior in my experience.

    But as an vehicle aficionado I do appreciate big wheeled brodozers and lowriders as an art, as an excuse to roll to a car show, and as an excuse to drink beer in the shade of a tree while tinkering.

    That can’t be wrong, can it?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Another vote for “To each his own.”

      But… for me? No, no.. a thousand times no!

      Frankly, I hate wheels and tires larger than 17 inches on normal road cars.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This is debatable? No it is not “good” but whether people like the look of it or not is another story.

  • avatar
    Fred

    This is all just for show, so given that I say anything goes.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I agree, once you have basically destroyed a vehicle so it can’t be used for it’s intended purpose….what difference does it make.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      My thoughts exactly. Do what you like. Giant rim and tire combinations arent my cup of tea as the ride quality is dismal. But these arent really streetable daily drivers. And if one ever goes to SEMA, they will see some wild rim/tire/truck combinations.

      But dont drive one daily without upgrading brakes to stop the increased mass, and have paint protection film applied for the road debris that will fly up from the tire and destroy the paint.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    It’s a “jobs program” for wheel repair outfits. At least where the roads are full of potholes.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, I could care less, but the guys who do this kind of stuff do, and the picture at the top of this story explains why.

    (And, no, I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers.)

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    thanks to the internet, there is no thing as nuance.

    65 R15 fits some needs, 35 R22 fit others. to each their own.

    just don’t run 22’s and complain about bent rims if you live near potholes

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Funny how the first motor vehicles were based on horse-drawn wagons, so wheels were large, like the Model T’s “artillery type”. Wheels got gradually smaller, so that by WWII full sized cars all had 15 inch wheels.

      Pontiac dropped their wheels to 14 inches in the late 1950s, so many full size cars by other makers did the same. Wheels (and tires with normal profile) started creeping up back to 15″ and 16″ for better fuel economy in the 1970s.

      Now huge wheels and low profile tires, a good combination for race cars, are back, following the lead of performance luxury cars. I can see the need for larger wheels to accommodate bigger disc brakes, but there’s no practical reason to go much larger than 16-17 inches.

      That’s my conclusion: people aren’t being practical.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    There might be certain mod trends that correlate with jerks (coal-rolling is essentially just driving around peeing on everyone because you can) but mostly I’m inclined to let peoples’ actions speak for themselves. And honestly, at least people who do crazy stuff to their cars *care about something*. They make something new; they leave the world different than when they came into it. They’re not just sitting on their asses scrolling through social media or watching TV; they’re removing entropy. I’m down with that even if I totally fail to understand 24″ spinners, or bosozuku, or lowriders, or custom vans, or those cars with upholstered engine compartments and pokey things sticking out of the rims – hell, even stancing, as long as they don’t spin in front of me and ruin my unmodified boring korean luxury car.

    In short, let’s hear it for people who do things. The world needs more of them.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    I love when I see one of these POS things on a trail in Colorado, usually stuck on a tight trail or clogging everything because they can’t get around.

    They’re as useless as the owner’s tiny dicks.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I wouldn’t equip my vehicle aftermarket with enormous rims and pointless tires, but I also don’t necessarily reject a car out of hand if it comes so equipped.

    My complaint only comes when the sizes are weird and not carried by many brands. When I had my Mazda6 with the 19s I had to replace two tires 6 weeks apart. They were roughly $260 apiece installed and I had to go to the dealer for them because nobody else stocked the tire in the right size. When I’d called tire shops to get quotes and I told them the size they responded “you drive a Mazda, don’t you?”

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      As a 4 time Mazda owner, I have found that you can nearly always upsize 1 size in either width or aspect ratio with no issues, and it will yield a tire that is cheaper, with 4x more options to purchase from. I had a 02 Protege5, and it had some weird size that I think was only shared with certain Saab 9-3’s at the time. On a Mazda6 with 19’s though, there might not have been much wiggle room to change sizes. On my Mazda3 hatch ’06, I actually swapped the OEM 17′ wheels (mandatory for hatches) with 16″ wheels from a sedan driven by some localish kid who responded to my swap proposal on one of the online forums. When I sold the car private sale the new owner didn’t ask any questions and I got the price I wanted.

      I’m considering either a CX-30 or a CX-5 in the future, and I would hope with all the wheel gap they should be able to upsize by 1 aspect ratio.

    • 0 avatar
      DungBeetle62

      I don’t know how that extends to Miatas, but one fine day I had a blowout and with no spare, it was pretty crazy trying to find any tire shop with that size of anything in stock for ~immediate~ installation. The winner was a Goodyear shop “Yeah, we’ve got one.” Got there, they couldn’t find it. Turns out it was the absolute smallest size the hot-s**t tire used on Vettes and Vipers came in. Mine was the one they were using on the wall display.

      Learned then maybe I ought to keep a good used one in the garage “just in case”. That was 2013 and I haven’t needed it yet.

      But on the subject at hand, every time I’ve thought of(or bought) new rims I got asked the size question, and every time it was not only would I prefer to not have to buy new tires if I’m investing in new rims, but I kinda trust the manufacturer’s engineering staff on the best package for that suspension over my desire to crash over every tar strip and speed bump in the name of vanity.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Thin sidewalls are beyond stupid to me. Completely wrecks the ride quality and handling of the vehicle. Makes me laugh just thinking about how much money these people are wasting on ‘dubs.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Enough to win that girl over about 1,332 times, I’d imagine…and let’s be honest, that’s the point of the whole exercise.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Given the tats and hair dye I’d pass. My guess is her modeling career on the ‘gram was stalling out and someone told her standing next to cool vehicles would up the follows. After some pics she took her Altima back to Fridays since her bar shift was starting soon.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Sounds about right.

          Like I said, “enough to win *THAT GIRL* (emphasis mine) over.” I don’t think the guys who employ these particular codpieces shoot much higher.

          Still wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers, though.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    I gotta say I love me some spinners. Since they are clearly out of style where do I go to find some cheap used ones?

  • avatar
    Cicero

    Giant wheels make an SUV look like a Conestoga wagon. I wouldn’t spend my own money to get that effect unless I was going to recreate the prairie-crossing scene from Blazing Saddles.

    “Feh! They darker than us!” Hah.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Pavement queens.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    No.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Not my thing, not my money.

    But here in PA, the safety inspection prohibits the tire rubber from protruding past the fender lip – so I marvel at the drivers break that rule. Maybe the cops have more important crimes to stop.

    And I thought putting 225-45-17s on my 02 Passat was a big move back then, instead of the stock 15s. Times have changed.

    IMO, thin sidewalls just produce business for the tire and alignment shops. I hate buying tires more than I hate buying gas.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    My Stinger came with 19s. I bought a set of 18s as a 2nd set, because I wanted to do some HPDE driving (Covid stopped that dead in its, um, tracks), 18s are a bit lighter and tires are cheaper, and bigger sidewalls.. My first car, ’84 GLI, the OEM 14s were the “big, fancy” wheels, and my winter wheels were 13s.

    I don’t mind the look of “big wheel, small sidewall”, but in terms of daily driving, not a fan of a rubber band stretched around a huge chunk of metal. Not after so many bent wheels, etc..

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      +1

      I dropped to 18/19s on my C7 for track days. As mentioned the wheels are lighter (good) and tires are cheaper (really good). The improvement in ride quality for daily driving was a bonus. Plus I think the meaty tires actually look better.

      There is a crossover point where low profile tires go from looking sporty to looking silly. I think around 40 series. Before COVID there was an Audi in my office parking lot rolling on 20 series rubber. It looked like the chrome wheel was wrapped in one of those rubberized iPhone cases. And of course the wheel was way too wide for the rubber so it was stretched like biker shorts on a linebacker. Clearly part of the ‘stance crowd. UGH.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I wish I did not have to go to 20″ wheels when I went Z51. Roads in winter climes tend to have potholes which beat the hell out of car/rim/tire/driver. And they look silly IMHO. The trend has gone too far. They are now more of a detriment than an asset.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I don’t live in place with moonscape roads but I will say I’m quite satisfied with how Kia tuned the car to work with the 19s. It isn’t a Town Car but the ride is pretty comparable to what I got from prior cars with a lot more sidewall.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    First photo gave me a bertel scare.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Like autonomous driving and convertibles, this sort of nonsense is for those living in wimp-winter territory. If you drive around Michigan or Illinois with sidewalls like that, you’re going to be spending an awful lot on replacement rims.

  • avatar
    monkeydelmagico

    It’s fine as aftermarket add on. It pisses me off that most OEM’s now put large rims on their higher trim offerings. Used to be passenger cars had some sidewall from the factory. The last new car salesman I dealt with looked at me like I had two heads when I told him part of the deal meant swapping out the “upgraded” rims for a base model set.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My TourX has 50 series sidewalls. That’s the lowest I ever want.

    The truck reminds me of once having been stuck behind a Cummins dually Ram truck in a snow storm. The truck was 4×4 but running on low profile mud terrains on silly large diameter wheels. My V6 Highlander 4wd could have out pulled him on a slick surface.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I wouldn’t care except the manufacturers might go to even larger rim sizes with less side wall which ride rougher and are more likely to get damaged and cost more to replace. I really don’t like this trend but it is good for the tire manufacturers and wheel manufacturers.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    I remember buying my first GTI in late ’82, with those awesome snowflake alloys in ginormous 14″ “plus one” size. A case where bigger actually was better. By 2021 we’ve completely jumped the shark.

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    My 2019 RAM Laramie Longhorn has the 22″ wheels with goodyear tires. At 27k the tires are sh*t. Cupping, premature wear.

    I am done w/ low profile tires. They give a crappy ride and wear poorly.

    I will be picking up my 2021 f150 lariat, this week. Ordered on 10/22/20, It’s got 18’s.

    In other news, drove the ram for 30 months and 27k mi. Pp $57k, trade $45.5k. Ends up costing less to buy then lease. Beat the man at his own game! The dealer can replace the tires.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    With my most recent vehicle acquisition I actually went with a lower spec model to avoid the larger tires and alloy rims that came with the higher spec.

    The smaller sized tires are less expensive and easier to source and so are the smaller rims.

  • avatar

    I’m a fan of sidewall, living in the NYC area with many differently maintained roads. I did a -1 on a BMW, after bending four 17 inch wheels. Since then, I’ve always bought for survival, not some never used .02 G in a friction circle. I recently did a deep dive into forums on my Jetta, which as the base S came with 16 steel and eco tires. I upped it to 225/50 but on a wider wheel…didn’t go 17 or 18. I ended up with a TUV approved quality wheel a bit wider.

    The forum, though were full of the most moronic mods I ever saw. Lowering, bags, and 21 inch wheels (just curl the fender, bro !). Why buy a German sporty oriented vehicle and bugger-up the hard work of the engineers….

    I get that the factory is cheap and you can fit way better shocks than they’ll install (Bilstein !!!) but what these folks are doing is spending big money to basically wreck the car. The only funny bit are the numbers of folks selling used shocks and parts to try a different set to achieve the same effect.

    C/D did a test with a Golf, because it came with everything OE from 16 to 19 inches….they found 17 was the sweet spot. For me, a 225/50 on 16 puts a lot of tread to road, and I can live with the minor difference in handling….and not having to be on pothole patrol 24/7….

    It’s no better on the Benz forums…lots of folks taking off the fancy AMG 3 setting shock and installing coil overs ? WTF ? Yeah, bro, I’m way smarter than those folks at the AMG division of Benz.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      Actually that C/D test went from 15-inchers (base wheel on Golf) to 19 (optional on Golf R). My ’07 Golf (er, Rabbit) has 15 inch steelies, and I wouldn’t expand beyond 16s. If I had a Golf GTI with the performance pack or equivalent I’d go to 17s which are the minimum with the larger disk brakes.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    When I bought my S6 in 2015 I made a costly mistake by ordering the 20 inch wheels instead of 19. Since then,I spent $2500 for 5 blown tires and a bent rim. Michigan goat trails are not friendly to low profile tires.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Dubs look stupid in my book. I wouldn’t want them even if they didn’t ruin the ride.

    On the truck side, giant wheels are invariably paired with giant Chinese mud tires and you can hear them howling blocks away.

    There are other ways to get laid. Find one that doesn’t cost your dignity.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Huge wheels with brakes the size of a downhill mountain bike are a joke to every gearhead but the owners are oblivious.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The truck equivalent to the guy wearing his jeans pulled down past his ass.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    Because everyone should bend wheels from a simple pothole.

    Aren’t these the same folks who blast donks and lowriders? It really is true that white guys get their fashion from people of color.

    I’ll stick with my 235/85-16s on the truck, and 205/60-13s for the car.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    YUCK. Most have covered the functionality argument, so I’ll stay away from that and focus more on personal taste. There’s absolutely ZERO reason for wheel diameter to exceed 18” unless you’re running some gigantor 44”+ tires, then MAYBE a 20” wheel is warranted. I get that some people like the look but to me, that look is just plain awful. For one, modern style wheel designs seem to be trying to out weird/complicate each other. If it doesn’t have roots in the look of a classic Cragar, Ansen Sprint or some other 5, 6 or 8 spoke design…what are you even doing? I never understood the appeal of the cabbage shredder/garbage disposal blade designs….that got started when my buddies were all lowering minitrucks. Some newer designs mimic the crosslace BBS look, which I get on a sportscar but on a truck? Eeww.

    One thing I do notice on these bigger truck wheels is at least they tend to have a deep lip and some offset. I absolutely HATE flat-faced wheels, especially when the spokes come right to the edge of the tire without even a soft lip defining where the wheel ends and the tire begins. I succumbed to 20” wheels since my Scat Pack’s Brembos require them. Shopping for wheels that fit one of these is infuriating if your taste is classic musclecar styling. Most of what fits these modern Mopars looks like it belongs either on a Maxima or something unless you’re dropping $700+’on custom forged pieces. Adding insult to injury, the LX cars use a 5x115mm bolt pattern thats a thin blonde one off the classic 5×4.5” that they SHOULD have used. But in the end I went with Voxx Demon replicas, staggered. Best compromise of reasonable price and looks right.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like… the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night – completely alone, drinking beers, with no women anywhere?”

    Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) – Say Anything – 1989

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