Why Lighter Wheels Can Make Your Car Go Faster

When someone is looking to make their car faster , many rush to increase the horsepower and overlook simple but effective upgrades like wheels. Turbocharger or electronic control unit upgrades, a new intercooler or larger air intakes can significantly increase the power of your engine. However, Donut Media 's Jeremiah Burton explains how a set of lightweight rims and their associated tires are a game changer .

There are two types of people. Those who look at the sidewalls of tires and say, “Whoa! Nice Michelin” , and those who look at them and only see numbers, letters and signs. If you're one of the first, it's probably not something you've cared much about or don't care too much about; all the more reason why you need to spend a few minutes and learn something. The numbers indicate three things : the width of the rim , followed by the height of the sidewall and the diameter of the wheel . For example, a normal compact can fit a 225/45 R18 .

These numbers are essential for anyone looking to replace tires. But what if you're looking for more traction ? Well, you'll need to know the tread wear number, right? The UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) standardized grading system works to establish a coefficient of static friction for a rubber. That number is the amount of wear a tire can have, where the compound and construction of the tire is very important.

100 is the baseline, but most vehicles on our roads regularly use tires that are worn at 400 or 500 . They're not the most grippy, but their abrasion resistance means you can get more miles in them. For circuit application, you should use a band of 200 or less. The lower the number, the more rubber the tire loses as it goes down the tarmac , but it generates more grip. And now you will say, where does that wear coefficient come from? Because not something invented.

According to Burton, tread wear is an estimate based on tests done by a company trying to get you to buy their tires. The rating means nothing in terms of the actual rubber compound . It may be a great indicator, but it is by no means a solid fact. When you're going fast, tires are only part of the equation. The rims that you mount on the car also matter: just like tires, not all wheels are the same, beyond the infinite existing brands and designs.

And once you've chosen the right size, the most significant difference is width and weight. Burton makes a solid point. One pound of a wheel is equivalent to four pounds of the car of it (0.45 kg derives in 1.81 kg). However, the rotation of that wheel aggravates the effect of that weight. Therefore, a lighter tire will make the vehicle more agile in corners because it can change direction substantially faster. In addition, the drivetrain will require less energy to turn them, resulting in more effective power on the road .

Consequently, getting lighter wheels will improve the performance of your traveling companion. That is, before upgrading the motor, you can simply increase the power sent to the road by reducing the weight of the wheel . There is much more to wheels and tires than simply choosing the right set. Tire pressure is also an important factor when it comes to grip levels. If you want your wheels to make more contact with the road without changing their measurements, you will have to play with other intrinsic variables.

According to Bakari Howard of Falken Racing Tires , running tires at a lower pressure ultimately increases the tire's contact patch . If we get too motivated, however, it can have a negative effect on performance. You are likely to experience excessive sidewall sag and some failure in the tire with the most pressure. It is important to note that two vehicles with the same weight and tire pressure have the same contact patch area.

And that is true regardless of width. The shape of the patch is what changes . The contact patch changes from a rectangle to a triangle when you drive at a happier pace and take turns cornering like a rally driver. This is because the outer edge of the rim does most of the work, as there is less contact on the inside of the tire with the track. To fix that, you can go to camber gain and tune the suspension to get the optimum setup, but that's another story.