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Tire Size/Width...Strictly Cosmetic?

10 July 2000
El Dorado Hills, CA
If you are like myself, you have changed your wheels/tires or atleast considered it. I am looking at replacing the stock 97 wheels with a 17X8/18X10 configuration (cosmetic reasons only). My 91 also had the late model 16/17 setup.

My question is: is there any handling benefits to a larger wheel/tire setup? As a side note, stock cars run a 15" wheel.

Also, would you consider running a 18/19 setup? Any TCS problems with this large of a rim on a 97?

With a recent purchase of Michelin Pilot Sports, I would think the traction, handling could not possibly get any better.

Is the larger wheel/tire setup mainly cosmetic?

Thanks in advance.

97-T @ 14K

[This message has been edited by NSX4U2 (edited 13 February 2001).]
Um, several things to consider when answering your questions (in no particular order) ........

Technically, 'plus' sizing will give better handling due to the lower sidewall and less flex. However, the extent of this is debateable and you get a harsher ride. You will also lose some 'off the line' acceleration.

Also, when you go to a larger tire/wheel combo, you may end up increasing the unsprung weight, which is undersireable. Slows acceleration, hampers handling, etc.

And, going to a bigger tire (at the same pressure) will not give you a larger contact patch; it will only change the shape of the contact patch. That said, there are some theoretical benefits to a transverse shaped contact patch vs a longitudinal one. I myself doubt it makes much of a difference.

Those issues aside, they look cool. And, if done properly, they can improve the overall handling, especially on cars with pronounced over or understeer. That issue is addressed by changing the relative sizes of the front and rear tires. The ever increasing rear tire size of 930s through the 80s is an example of that.

I have gone to significantly larger tires on my car because I believe that given the hp and torque, the additional weight is not a real issue.

Sorry these thoughts are not better organized, but it is late.
I agree with each of the points David made in his post and will add only this: I have a good friend who had a set of wheels built in the 18/19 setup and he's had numerous problems with clearance, especially in the front. In addition, the range of tire selections is far narrower...not to mention pricier. I would suggest running 17x8 and 18x10 wheels with a 225/35/17 front and 285/30/18 rear. This will give you a great look without creating clearance problems, even if your car is lowered. This won't effect your TCS either. Best of luck.
While I agree that the larger wheel may give an expert driver marginally better handling (very marginal), the shorter side wall will also create a more abrupt break away. This will make casual outtings at time trial events more intense and less fun.

You may want to consider mounting track use only tires on your stock wheels. I would recommend Pirelli P-Zero-C. The -C tire is a racing compound tire. They are available in 225x45x16 front and 255x40x17 rear. They retain the stock front/rear size ration and provide unbelievable handling.

[This message has been edited by dswartz (edited 14 February 2001).]