The time has come to buy new wheels. Something nice, because you’ve saved up the cash and because you and your car deserve it. You’re looking for something that’s going to take your ride to the next level, appearance and performance-wise.
But you realize something while looking at rims- How do you know whether or not these will fit your car? Rims can’t be universal, can they? (They aren’t.)
While you could work with one of our professional fitters available to chat online at RentAWheel.com or over the phone, it’s valuable information to have for yourself to know how to tell whether a wheel will match your car, or even if your new rims will fit the tires you have.
At Rent A Wheel we want to make it so easy you’ll forget that there are rims that don’t fit your car, but if you’re just wanting to look with an informed eye, here are some things to keep in mind while shopping for the perfect wheels.
Let’s say that you just recently bought a set of tires, or recently enough that you don’t want to have to buy new ones. Fair enough. But when you aren’t buying a set of rims and tires at the same time, now you have to make sure you’re buying wheels that will fit your existing tires.
This isn’t as hard as it might sound, trust us.
We have two main numbers we want to look at, the diameter and the width of our wheel and tire. And whatever tire you have actually gives us these numbers without too much fuss.
Let’s say that not too long ago you bought yourself a set of dependable Hankook Kinergy PT tires from your local Rent A Wheel service location for just $46 a month.
What we’re looking for on these tires is a string of information that you can find online if you look them up or even stamped right into the rubber on the sidewall. It’s a series of numbers and letters that looks like this:
Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as complicated as it looks when we break it down. This is the information the tire is telling us in order from left to right:
Width: The first number we see is “185,” this is the width of the tire from sidewall to sidewall. This is our first important number we’re looking for when shopping for rims.
Aspect Ratio: This number is less important to us right now but it just means the ratio of height of the side wall compared to the width, in this case the height of the tire is 55% of the width of the tire.
Construction: You’ll find this to be the same on most tires you encounter- the “R” means that the interior construction of the tire is radial.
Diameter: Here is the second important number we’re looking for. This is the diameter of wheel that this tire wants- not the diameter of the whole tire mind you, just the hole in the middle.
Load/Speed Index: We don’t want to skip these but we’ll join them together for time's sake. The last two numbers tell us how much our tires are rated to hold, and how much speed our tires are able to handle. These two numbers relate to two charts, the Tire Load Index Chart and the Tire Speed Rating Chart. A quick Google search shows us that these tires are rated to carry 1,074 pounds per tire, and are able to handle speeds up to 130 miles per hour. Not that you would ever go that fast…
Alright so now you know where to find the diameter and the width of rim your tires are looking for so the hard part is over. The diameter is pretty straightforward because it’s in inches, but you will have to convert the width, which is measured in millimeters, into inches.
This is a quick online search (just to double-check the math, you know. We know how to convert millimeters in our heads but you always want to confirm your numbers.)
We find out that 185 millimeters is 7.28 inches. Don’t worry that it’s not a full number, at this point it’s always helpful to discuss what wheel options will fit your tires and car best, depending on your driving and style you’re looking for.
This is a great time to take advantage of our expert fitters at RentAWheel.com. We’re always happy to help find the right fit for you and your sick ride, and when you already have the measurements you’re looking for it’s going to be nothing but smooth sailing.
So the rims you picked fit your tire, excellent. But you get them installed and suddenly you’re smacking your wheel wells when you turn- why?
Well for one you must not have gotten your wheels installed at Rent A Wheel, but we won’t judge you too hard for that.
Secondly, in the excitement of finding wheels that fit your tires, you might have overlooked whether or not your wheels would fit your car.
Again, this is something that Rent A Wheel professionals are happy to help you figure out, but in case you want to make sure for yourself that your wheels are going to fit in your car (we respect the hustle) here’s a few things to keep in mind that will make your life easier and make sure you aren’t damaging your suspension system.
No, not the second most successful member of Migos. The offset of your wheels is the measurement of where the wheel’s connection point to the car is relative to its centerline.
Picture your tire standing up without the car, ready to roll down the street (don’t worry, it won't.) Now imagine a line cutting straight down the center of the tire as it stands- this is the centerline.
Where your tire attaches to the car, otherwise known as the mounting surface, is what we’re measuring to the centerline to get our offset number.
The mounting surface could be more towards the back of the wheel, towards the car, to give the rims a deep dish look similar to what you may have seen in popular music videos. This is called negative offset, because the mounting point is behind the centerline. If you’re having a hard time imagining it, just take a look at these deep Moto Metal M0970’s.
Or the mounting surface may be more towards the front of the wheel, street side. This pushes the face of the rim towards the front for a flush, tucked in look that some drivers love. This is called positive offset because the mounting point is in front of the centerline. For example, check out these sweet Asanti ABL-12 rims.
If you have either too much positive or negative offset, you might run into issues. If your wheels have too much negative offset and your rims are sticking out you’re more than likely going to rub against your fenders unless you have them flared. Too much positive offset and you run the risk of squeezing your brake calipers and pushing against your suspension system.
It’s a good rule of thumb to never go more than 5-10 millimeters of difference in your offset, positive or negative, from what your previous rims were at. If you intentionally want to make a dramatic shift in offset, consult with a Rent A Wheel expert and we’ll get you fitted with something that looks great and fits your ride.
This one is a bit more straightforward. You need to buy wheels and tires that are small enough to fit in the space your car has for them. That makes sense, right?
It’s suggested to take note of your existing or previous wheels for reference, because whatever wheels came with your car from the manufacturer or previous owner will be a good place to start when considering the size of your new wheels.
You want to generally match what you had. If your old wheels were 17 inches in diameter, then you wouldn’t want to suddenly put on 22 inch rims on your car. You want to stick to 17 inches.
This applies to the width as well. Though it may be harder to look in the wheel well and see how much space you have, don’t try to buy wheels much wider than your current set.
If you are interested in wider wheels for performance reasons, consult with professionals to determine how wide you can push your rims and what you could do to extend those options.
All of this information is important to know when you’re shopping for new wheels. You want to be an informed shopper in everything regarding your pride and joy.
But to be honest, at RentAWheel.com we make this process so simple and convenient you won’t really have to know most of this information. Our experts are ready to chat online with you or over the phone to help you find wheels that will fit your tires, fit your car, and look crazy good.
We even have a top of the line visualizer available on our website, so all you have to do is input the make, model and year of your vehicle and we’ll show you what’s going to fit, and how it’s going to look on your specific car.
Not only that, but we make it easy and affordable to get the best possible option for your rims. With our flexible payment plan you can pick up the nicest wheel and tire options available for your budget and pay a low monthly fee.
Buying new wheels has never been easier.