When choosing tires for your vehicle, you might believe that picking the widest tire is best. However, that may not necessarily be the case. There are advantages and disadvantages to both wide and narrow tires. When determining which kind is best for your vehicle, it’s important to think about what you want out of the tire and also about your car itself.

Wide vs Narrow Tires

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Here are some things to consider when deciding what kind of tires you should purchase for your car:

Car weight — For some vehicles, buying a skinnier tire is not realistic because the weight of the vehicle will put too much pressure on the tire. If you were to mount a thin tire on a car that was too heavy, you would run the risk of the tire exploding while you were on the road. However, if you mount tires that are too wide on a vehicle that is light, you may experience wheelspin, which can damage other internal systems in your car. So make sure you purchase the appropriate tires based on the weight of your vehicle.

Traction — Having more pressure per square inch or a wider contact area are two options for creating greater traction for your car’s tires. With wide tires, you have a broader contact area, while skinny tires have more pressure per square inch. There’s no way you can have both options, so it’s best to find a balance based on what kind of roads you will be driving on and other conditions that will affect your vehicle.

Wet condition driving — Wide tires are better for driving in wet weather since they have sipes, which help to trap and remove water from the contact surface. Narrow tires have sipes as well, but since they have a smaller surface area, they have less of them. One positive aspect of narrow tires in the rain is that when going through puddles, the higher contact pressure moves water out of the way. However, since you won’t be perpetually driving through puddles, wider tires are the more practical choice.

Snow driving — Because there is low friction on the road, having greater pressure on the road is more important than having more surface area. Therefore, narrow tires perform better when the roads are covered with snow, since they can dig deeper into the snow, providing more traction.

Dry road driving — If you’re mostly going to drive on streets with asphalt, you should consider going with wide tires. For this type of road material, the increased surface area provides better traction than having more pressure.

Fuel consumption — The less friction your vehicle produces, the lower your steering effort, which also means less fuel consumption. Wide tires provide for more friction, making your vehicle consume more fuel, whereas narrow tires cause your car to consume less fuel because they have lower amounts of friction.

Choosing the right type of tires can depend on a lot of factors, including safety, economy and the roads you drive on. While making your choice, keep in mind what your vehicle requires, while also remembering that the places you drive will have a significant impact on the type of roads those tires will come up against.