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A variety of differently sized tires lean against one another, wondering which is to be chosen and why.

How do car manufacturers determine tire size?

Factors for Choosing Tire Size

There are many different sizes of tires out there. From little ones that go on roller blades (yes, they exist) to gigantic ones for trucks and construction equipment, different vehicles demand different sizes of squishy rubber donut. How do car manufacturers determine the tire size to use on their vehicles?


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To determine tire size, a manufacturer takes several factors into account: what the vehicle will be used for, how much it will weigh, and current market trends. Every potential size of tire has both positives and negatives associated with it, so manufacturers need to choose the one that provides the traits most desired by their model’s intended audience.

Tire Width

The primary factor when determining the width of a vehicle’s tire is whether the car is emphasizing fuel economy or performance. Wider tires will have a better grip on the pavement for tighter handling and better acceleration. However, they will also waste more fuel due to increased friction. If a model is emphasizing fuel economy over performance, it will be fitted with skinnier tires to minimize friction.

Tire Pressure

The primary factor to determine tire pressure is weight. A heavy vehicle will deform tires with low pressure. This is why heavy trucks/SUVs require tires with high pressure.

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Tire Height

Like tire width, tire height is also determined by how performance-oriented a car is. Higher tire height will provide a more comfortable ride, but will deform under high acceleration and with speedy turns. This makes a high tire wall unsuitable for a performance car that’s going to be traveling and maneuvering at high speed. It is, however, perfect for a car that emphasizes comfort.

Performance cars tend to have ridged thin wall tires. These are less likely to deform, but they bring a worse ride quality because the shorter side wall gives them less room to flex and absorb road bumps.

Weight also effects tire height. A bigger vehicle is going to need bigger tires to hold it up. This is pretty straightforward, but it’s the reason big machines have big tires with tall sidewalls.

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Market Trends

The final effect on tire size is market trends. Stylistic tastes are of course a primary factor in what a car looks like and how it’s proportioned. These days, people are into big rims, which corresponds to big tires as well.

The love buyers have for big-rim rides may be based on the fact that high-speed vehicles need large brake disks and calipers to be able to slow down. Thus, they need big rims to store these implements. The association between high-performing cars and large rim sizes has become so deeply entrenched in our brain that now we no longer know why we’re so attracted to big rollers. We just are.