Changing Tire Rim Size

I have a Ranger pickup with 14" rims. From what I’ve been told, when it was new in '98, there was an option for 14", 15", or 16" wheels, and they’re interchangeable. True?

If the lug pattern matches, will switching from 14" to a 15", or even a 16", have any impact on the transmission, odometer, or handling?

It looks like I’ll have plenty of clearance in the wheel wells, and tire shopping will be easier. I have what appear to be car tires on now, and in the summer it’s fine. They suck in the snow, though, and I’d like to get a knobbier, truckier tire on before the first storm hits. These tires seem to only be in stock beginning at 15" sizes. I’m looking at ~$75 or so per tire at this point, if I can get them on sale.

Also, I haven’t begun pricing rims. I was going to try my luck at a you-pull-it junk yard/parts shop, but how much (ballpark) can I expect to pay for new rims if necessary? Nothing fancy.

It’s true that they were offered as factory options, but they’re not interchangeable, even if the lug pattern matches.

Absolutely. Generally speaking, the larger the wheel diameter the higher the unsprung weight and rotational inertia, so not only will it handle differently it’s will take you longer to stop over the same distance. It will also affect your speedometer and your odometer, as those are calibrated for the combination you have now, unless you of course you change the tire to a lower-profile tire in order to maintain overall diameter, in which case you’ll get increased road noise and harshness.

It’s really kind of complicated, but the bottom line is that anything you do to your wheels will have some effect on the performance of your vehicle, so be careful.

Question on the same topic:

What benefits do I get when buying a vehicle brand new from the dealer and opting for the upgraded 17" wheels over the standard 16" wheels?

Traction? Handling? Ride comfort? Cosmetic?

What Airman Doors said.

Here are some sites with basic info about wheels. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. There are dozens of ways to make a change that screws something up.

A good knowledgeable salvage yard or wheel store might be able to identify some rims that will acheive your goal without causing problems. But unless you can satisfy yourself that someone REALLY - KNOWS what he’s talking about, I’d suggest save yourself the heartache and stick with what you’ve got.

As long as the wheel & tire fit in the wheel wells, it really doesn’t make too much difference what size the wheel is, as long as the tire and wheel are the same height as the original tire and wheel. If they are the same height, the speedometer will read the same. And on the newer cars that have sensors all over the place to do everything but wash the dishes, total height of wheel and tire is very important. If the height is changed without adjustments made in the computer system of the car, all kinds of not fun things can happen. :eek:

You didn’t say what year of a Ranger you have, but if it is a newer one, it is probably best to keep the same wheel size. If you do decide to change, just make sure the total height of the wheel and tire you put on the truck is the same height as the original wheel and tire and you should be OK.

Jeeze, Louise, all you need to do is ask a reliable tire and wheel supplier about a “plus one” conversion.

The plus one can happen with, or without going to a 15" rim.

For example, say you want better handling, and your are shopping for new tires. Let’s say you want a little more meat on the ground.

If you have 185/75 tires on 14" rims, you would get a much more responsive ride from 195/70 tires on the same 14" rims. You’ve reduced the sidewall to tread RATIO, but the tire height virtually the same. This is COMPLETELY acceptable and your speedo/odometer will see an insignificant change. No clearane issues will arise.

Any reputable dealer should know a ‘plus one’ like the back of a gatorback tire.

**Now, you can still do the same thing with a bigger rim…but when going to a bigger rim, you get a lower profile tire that goes like this:

You start with a 185/70 tire on a 13" rim. You jump to a 14" rim and a 195/60 tire. Or, you go from a 195/60r14 to a 205/50r15.

The ride heights are identical in all cases (23.22") …in all scenarios.**Plus 1, Plus 2. Every tire dealer should know these. If they don’t, I wouldn’t let them near my car.

It’s not that simple. There is ample literature out about how putting larger (hence heavier) tires on your car affects performance.

You can put whatever you want on your car, but I’m not going to tell you that it’s not going to make any difference. It could make a BIG difference. Remember Derrick Thomas, the great Chiefs linebacker? He put dubs on his SUV and then ended up dying in an accident. That was at least partially, if not entirely, due to the compromised performance of his SUV in snow with the non-standard wheels on it.

You owe it to yourself and your family to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. It probably won’t make a difference in this case, but the wheels are where the rubber meets the road and if you screw that up you’re in big, big trouble. So check it out before you buy. That’s all I ask.

So stick with the 14", and just hope I can find/afford the type of tire I want? That’s probably the direction I was leaning in anyway, I think, even before I asked the question. I was just curious if upsizing would make that much of a difference. So far, it appears that it does. IMHO thread asking for shopping suggestions (Sears, Pep Boys, Firestone, etc…) coming soon.

Oh well, I have 200# of water softener pellets in the basement that I put in the bed as traction last year, and I have since (accidentally) left 4 40# bags of cement in the rain, so there’s even more traction. The current tires are still in good shape, so maybe I’ll go ahead and get 4 14" rims mounted with winter tires, swap them out seasonally, and save a few long run dollars that way?

…Maybe with all that weight, I can find me a cheap set of slicks… :smiley:

Plus 1 without changing rims results in a tire that has exactly the same amount of meat as the standard tire.

No one advocated putting the wrong type of tire on a truck a la hip hoppers.

Further, upgrading tires and rims (better rims, even bigger, can reduce the unsprung weight and improve response, and feel).

A firmer sidewall, achieved thru the use of Plus 1 upgrades is a solid standard approach to making all vehicles safer. Sidewall height sacrifes safety for ride comfort.

The approach suggested mimics the approach mrgrs use when they offer upgraded tire/wheel packages.

For clarification, I’m not looking to put on fancy or hip hop or huge tires like these (exaggerated). I just want to get something with more of a truck tread, along these lines, which seem to only start at 15".

I have 2 rangers (an 88 and a 91) both with 15" rims. One with LT215/75R15 tires and the other with LT30x9.50 tires (almost the exact same as a LT235/75R15). I think that you would have no problems going with the smaller tire (the 215). The larger tire would work too, but it gives you a higher drive ratio. If you have the V-6, that won’t be a problem, if you have the 4 cyclinder engine then you probably want the smaller tire.

Note that you can probably get either LT215/75R15 or P215/75R15 tires in this size. The LT tires usually have more plys and a higher load rating, but a worse ride. If you use your truck for hauling stuff often, then consider the LTs.

I can’t speak for how Ford equipped Rangers, but I can tell you that many models of Volvos are available with 16 or 17 or even 18 inch wheels. None of the other parts of the car (brakes, springs, lugs, shocks) are changed when a tire option is selected. Now since I am a firm believer that the guy that designed the car knows more about it than anyone else, I take that to mean that if I have a car with 16" and I want to go to 17" with the same outer diameter (the plus one that Philster spoke of), I will have no problems.
As far as the weight difference between a 14" and 15" wheel and tire combo, I would expect the difference to minimal at most.
Plus 1, plus 2 is NOT mounting 22s or 24 that were not designed for your car on it. This is a different animal, and I do not advocate these extreme wheel and tire combos.

I had a Nissan truck with 14" tires. When I bought it, it had snow tires on the back which looked pretty decent on it. When I moved to Baltimore, I found that snow tires are special order in every tire shop I went to (and they wonder why Baltimorons can’t drive in the snow :rolleyes: ). I ended up paying a lot more for tires that looked halfway decent with the truck. I HATE the look of undersized tires on a pickup truck, and off the shelf 14’s look hiddeously undersized (IMHO). Eventually I got tired (er… sorry for the pun) of having such a hard time finding tires and switched to 15" rims, which gave me a LOT more options for tires at much more reasonable prices.

I noticed that the truck actually handled better and felt a lot more stable at Baltimore beltway speeds (55 to 65) with the larger tires. The ranger is a similarly sized small truck, so I’d expect similar results.

The speedometer/odometer was off a bit after the tire change. One of our car experts here can probably tell you for certain, but I think most of them can be adjusted for the different tire size fairly easily.

Don’t go higher than a 15, or you may end up needing a lift kit to prevent the tires from hitting the fenders/wheel wells.

I found a really good deal at a place near here that sells used tires and rims. I figured a used truck would look silly with shiny new rims on it, so I made sure I got some nice used ones that looked like they belonged with the truck. :smiley:

Ya get to pay more for your tires .

In my experience most cars that have optional rim sizes do not have any other changes to the car (suspension/brakes/lugs etc.) other than the rim size. Therefore swapping out your rims for a larger factory size should be no problem at all. If you wanted to be cautious you could check to make sure this was the case with your vehicle. Normally a larger rim will use a tire with a shorter sidewall to keep the overall diameter the same (or very close) so there should be very little effect on gearing, handling, etc.

Generally (when comparing wheel/tire combinations with the same total diameter), a larger rim (and shorter sidewall) will have better handling but a rougher ride but when you are only going up or down an inch or two this may not be even noticeable. The construction of the tire also has an effect on ride and handling. Tires for larger rims a usually more expensive but a smaller rim that requires an unpopular tire size could also be expensive and have limited choices (Sounds like this is the case for you).

When you start to make large changes there can be a safety issue. I don’t know anything about the accident you mentioned but if his SUV had ‘Dubs’ (IE 20” Rims) then it probably had summer tires on it (I am pretty sure that snow tires (or even all-season tires) are not available in that size), summer tires with any size rim (including the stock rims)would be dangerous in the snow.

As I mentioned above in every case I have seen a car with optional rim sizes has no other changes to the suspension or brakes. In some cases a larger rim is introduced for a new model year with no other changes to the car. My 98 maxima (came with 15” rims, but 16” rims where optional) has 16” rims from a 2000 model Maxima, with a slightly smaller tire the overall diameter is the same.

It’s true that a larger rim can be heavier (even if the overall diameter is the same) but when you are talking about changes of an inch or two it is unlikely to have any noticeable effect. If you are changing to a size that was a factory option than obviously the suspension and brakes are designed to handle it.

Changing to a shorter sidewall with a larger rim would be the correct way to do it in most cases. A shorter sidewall may increase road noise and harshness but a changes of an inch or two may not have much of an effect. The construction of the tire can have as much (or more) effect on road noise and harshness than a change of an inch or two in sidewall height.

According to

A good on line site like or tire dealer should be able to tell you what fits your vehicle safely.

Enthusiast message boards are also a good source of information on what rims will fit and to find out what rims where available stock on your vehicle. Enthusiast message boards are also a good place to find used wheels (and sometimes tires) for sale. Often people upgrade to large after market wheels and tires and sell the factory setup. You can easily find a set of rims and good tires for less than the cost of buying new tires for your current rims. If you are going to buy a second set of rims you may want to consider a set with dedicated snow tires.