In recent years, the automotive industry has seen a significant shift towards customization and personalization, with an increasing number of drivers opting for aftermarket upgrades to tailor their vehicles to suit their needs and preferences. One such modification that has gained considerable popularity is plus sizing for tires. The process involves installing larger wheels and tires on a vehicle to improve its appearance, handling, and performance. This article delves into the world of plus sizing, exploring its benefits, drawbacks, and important considerations to help drivers make informed decisions when considering this modification.
What is Plus Sizing?
Plus sizing is a term used to describe the practice of increasing the diameter of a vehicle’s wheels while fitting lower profile tires to maintain the overall diameter of the wheel and tire assembly. This upgrade is often done for aesthetic reasons or to enhance the vehicle’s handling and performance characteristics.
There are three main methods of plus sizing:
- Plus One: This method involves increasing the wheel diameter by one inch and fitting a tire with a lower aspect ratio, which is the ratio of the tire’s sidewall height to its width. This maintains the overall diameter of the wheel and tire assembly.
- Plus Two: This method involves increasing the wheel diameter by two inches and fitting an even lower profile tire, which results in a wider contact patch.
- Plus Three or more: This method involves increasing the wheel diameter by three inches or more and fitting ultra-low profile tires, which provide maximum contact patch and performance benefits.
Benefits of Plus Sizing
- Enhanced Appearance: One of the main reasons for plus sizing is the visual appeal it adds to a vehicle. Larger wheels with low-profile tires give a vehicle a more aggressive and sporty look, which is often desired by car enthusiasts and tuners.
- Improved Handling: Plus sizing can significantly improve a vehicle’s handling due to the wider contact patch provided by the lower profile tires. This results in increased grip and traction, allowing the vehicle to corner more effectively and with better stability.
- Better Braking Performance: The larger wheel and tire assembly can provide a more responsive braking system due to the increased contact patch, which translates to improved stopping distances and overall braking performance.
- Reduced Sidewall Flex: Low-profile tires have stiffer sidewalls, which reduces the flex experienced during hard cornering. This leads to more precise steering and a better road feel, offering the driver a greater sense of control.
Drawbacks of Plus Sizing
- Reduced Ride Comfort: The stiffer sidewalls and reduced tire volume associated with low-profile tires can result in a harsher ride, as they are less effective at absorbing road imperfections.
- Increased Risk of Wheel Damage: Low-profile tires have less sidewall to protect the wheel from impacts with potholes, curbs, or other road hazards. As a result, plus-sized wheels are more susceptible to damage.
- Higher Cost: Larger wheels and low-profile tires are typically more expensive than their smaller counterparts. Additionally, these tires tend to wear more quickly, leading to higher replacement costs.
- Potential Fitment Issues: Plus sizing may require adjustments to the vehicle’s suspension, fender, or wheel well clearance to accommodate the larger wheel and tire assembly. This can add complexity and cost to the modification process.
Important Considerations for Plus Sizing
- Speedometer Calibration: As the overall diameter of the wheel and tire assembly is maintained in plus sizing, the speedometer should remain accurate. However, if the overall diameter is significantly altered, it may be necessary to recalibrate the speedometer to ensure accurate readings.
- Load Carrying Capacity: When selecting new tires, it’s essential to ensure that they meet or exceed the vehicle’s required load-carrying capacity, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on the tire information placard located on the driver’s door jamb. Overloading tires can lead to premature wear, decreased performance, and potential safety hazards.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS): Modern vehicles often come equipped with TPMS, which monitors and alerts the driver to changes in tire pressure. When plus sizing, it’s crucial to confirm that the new tire and wheel assembly is compatible with the vehicle’s TPMS to maintain proper monitoring and safety functions.
- Wheel Offset and Backspacing: To ensure proper fitment, it’s important to consider the wheel offset and backspacing when selecting new wheels. Offset is the distance between the wheel’s mounting surface and its centerline, while backspacing is the distance from the wheel’s mounting surface to the back edge. Incorrect offset or backspacing can cause interference with suspension components, steering, and fender clearance.
- Suspension and Brake Upgrades: When plus sizing, especially in more aggressive applications, it’s worth considering upgrading the vehicle’s suspension and brake systems to complement the increased performance offered by the new wheel and tire setup. Upgraded suspension components can enhance handling, while larger brake rotors and callipers can improve braking performance.
- Tire Selection: When choosing new tires, it’s essential to consider factors such as tread pattern, wet and dry grip, road noise, and expected tread life. Researching and comparing various tire options will ensure that you select the best tire to suit your vehicle’s needs and performance goals.
- Legal Restrictions: Before embarking on a plus sizing project, it’s important to check local laws and regulations regarding vehicle modifications. Some regions may have restrictions on tire and wheel size changes, which could result in fines or other penalties if not adhered to.
Plus sizing is an increasingly popular modification that can enhance a vehicle’s appearance, handling, and performance. However, it’s crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the drawbacks and carefully consider the various factors involved in this modification. By doing a thorough research and consulting with professionals when necessary, drivers can make informed decisions and unlock the full potential of their vehicles through plus sizing.