Wheels and Tires

Downsizing Winter Tires - is it safe?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 10th, 2017 12:33 pm
Tags:
[OP]
Banned
Mar 22, 2017
6 posts
3 upvotes

Downsizing Winter Tires - is it safe?

I'm not convinced that downsizing wheels and tires in winter is any safer in terms of traction and handling. I was able to only find one decent article against downsizing.

http://www.autoexpert.ca/en-ca/road-saf ... nter-tires

Sure, I will save some money getting smaller tires and wheels, but aren't the traction and stability features on my car specifically designed for the wheel and tires to the exact factory height and width? Playing around with the wheel and tire will get the height right, but what about width... If I'm sticking to the factory width, then height technically is irrelevant?

What do you think?
47 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jan 27, 2004
36803 posts
2604 upvotes
Toronto
RocketRobinHood1 wrote:
Oct 23rd, 2017 5:14 pm
I'm not convinced that downsizing wheels and tires in winter is any safer in terms of traction and handling. I was able to only find one decent article against downsizing.

http://www.autoexpert.ca/en-ca/road-saf ... nter-tires

Sure, I will save some money getting smaller tires and wheels, but aren't the traction and stability features on my car specifically designed for the wheel and tires to the exact factory height and width? Playing around with the wheel and tire will get the height right, but what about width... If I'm sticking to the factory width, then height technically is irrelevant?

What do you think?
I don't think downsizing does anything to the control systems.

I had smAller winter tires on my old car... and the traction control worked fine. It went from 17in summers to 16 in winters. ABS still worked fine.

It still holds true that narrow tires cut through snow and slush.
Member
User avatar
Sep 26, 2008
430 posts
91 upvotes
GTA
Swerny wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 10:24 am
pick the same width tire and the overall size will be near identical.

It's no issue whatsoever.
Hmm yeah, that' what I'm thinking. I do like the idea of having "thicker" rubber on the winter wheels as long as the width is unchanged.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 4, 2005
7664 posts
292 upvotes
Brampton
"downsizing" really just means smaller rim size but the actual diameter should stay the same(within 3% for safety reasons)
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jun 7, 2001
6789 posts
683 upvotes
Alberta
One can downsize until the brake calipers become an issue.

Dave
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 30, 2007
18917 posts
4125 upvotes
Toronto
also when downsizing, if you choose the same speed rating as your OEM tire (summer or all season), you should have no issue at all. Not suggesting if you go to a lower speed rating tire, then it could be detrimental to your safety.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Apr 15, 2011
5835 posts
1193 upvotes
aGincourt
I think you are confused, the overall size of the wheel is still the same, only the ratio of what is rubber tire and what is metal wheel (rims) is changed. When you downsize, you just increase the ratio of what is tire and decrease the ratio of what is rim; of the overall wheel. When you downsize it doesn't mean you have an overall smaller wheel.

Downsizing is often only 1-2 inches because of brake clearance issues. And most of the time, downsizing is the size of the lower trim. For example, for the new civic you can have 16 in, 17 in, or 18 in wheels, but the overall size is still the same. If you have the highest trim civic with 18 inch wheels you can run 16 in wheels if you wanted.
Member
User avatar
Sep 26, 2008
430 posts
91 upvotes
GTA
Yeah makes sense. We are changing the ratio of rubber to wheel, but overall size stays the same.

Also good point about how different trims will have different tire sizes on the same model car.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jun 7, 2001
6789 posts
683 upvotes
Alberta
Tirerack.com is probably the best site to find downsized sizes for your vehicle. Look for winter packages and choose the smallest tire size. Find a black steelie that fits your vehicle (hubcentric>lugcentric).

Dave
Deal Addict
Oct 9, 2003
2545 posts
249 upvotes
Vancouver
Swswswish wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 6:38 pm
Downsizing is often only 1-2 inches because of brake clearance issues. And most of the time, downsizing is the size of the lower trim. For example, for the new civic you can have 16 in, 17 in, or 18 in wheels, but the overall size is still the same. If you have the highest trim civic with 18 inch wheels you can run 16 in wheels if you wanted.
Yep that's exactly what I did. I looked up the lower trim of my vehicle to see what tires it ran and bought those ones. Had them installed today and fits just fine. No issues so far, aside from the fact that it looks slightly odd Astonished Face
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 13, 2008
1983 posts
312 upvotes
Oshawa
I downsized from 16" to 15" for the winter on my 2015 Lancer riding on Falken Espia ... no issue at all.

Downsizing gives you more room for snow build up and it lowers the car for more stability.

Main issue is ... the driver and your driving habits.
Stress is caused by NOT fishing enough.

Megabass, Imakatsu, Jackall, OSP RULES!
YGK, Toray, Sunline RULES!
Shimano RULES!
St. Croix & Halo RULES!

JDM ONLY.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 5, 2008
9362 posts
1901 upvotes
Toronto
AV-Fishing wrote:
Nov 9th, 2017 9:54 pm
I downsized from 16" to 15" for the winter on my 2015 Lancer riding on Falken Espia ... no issue at all.

Downsizing gives you more room for snow build up and it lowers the car for more stability.

Main issue is ... the driver and your driving habits.
sorry but that's incorrect info.

The overall diameter should remain the same.

so if downsizing from 16 to 15 inch rims, the tire profile should increase to make up the difference in overall height/diameter.

If you don't increase tire profile, then what you said will happen, but it's not recommended
Newbie
Sep 7, 2007
89 posts
20 upvotes
Woodstock
It has always been recommended that winter tires should be a size narrower than your summer tires. This came about when cars started getting wide low profile tires so as to look like race cars. Wide tires have a tougher time getting through snow while narrower ones can cut through. This was especially true when most cars were RWD. But the advice still holds true. Keep the same size rims, but go to a narrower tire with a higher aspect ratio to maintain the same diameter. That's the general recommendation, but if you find a killer deal on slightly wider tires with the correct diameter, that's okay too. A couple of years ago I got just that, almost brand new tires on rims a couple of sizes wider than stock, but the right diameter at a price I could not refuse. They worked out great.
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2015
2635 posts
477 upvotes
Canada, Eh!!
Some vehicle models actually have larger size tires as you go from base trim to top of the line trim [eg. 17" to 18" to 19"] so vehicle could handle different size tires as long as within overall diameter manuf specs.

Top