Tires: The bigger, the better? - Toyota RAV4 Forums
4.3 Exterior Tires, Wheels, Lights, Spoilers, Flares, Bars, Tow Hitches, etc.

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#1 (permalink) Old 07-15-2012, 01:07 PM
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Tires: The bigger, the better?

I bought my 2011 RAV4 base with 17" steel wheels. Is there an advantage of fuel economy and smoother ride if the tires are larger? Are smaller tires providing more traction in the winter due to a smaller road footprint? Or there are no real differences except for getting bad readings from the odometer if you do change tire sizes. Or is anything up to 18" ok to put on. Does Toyota re-calibrate the odometer (and can they do anything beyond 18")?

Personally, I'm debating of going to 18" wheels for mostly highway driving. But, if 17" to 18" doesn't make much difference, I might just keep them. Let me know your opinions and experiences.
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#2 (permalink) Old 07-15-2012, 01:49 PM
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To maintain the same diameter as the 17"'s the 18" tires would need to be a low profile design. Smaller sidewalls generally mean a rougher ride. I see no advantage in it but that doesn't mean squat.

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#3 (permalink) Old 07-15-2012, 04:36 PM
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In general, going to a larger diameter wheel/tire combination will result in more tire contact with the road, which likely would actually reduce any fuel economy gain which would be achieved by going to a larger diameter. Also speedo/odo accuracy would be thrown off. Theoretically there could be an improvement in ride quality but it would be negligible. Then, taking into account the cost for the wheels and presumably new tires it all would appear to be a losing proposition financially. While that's my opinion other forum members may have different ideas.

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#4 (permalink) Old 07-15-2012, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by RTexasF View Post
To maintain the same diameter as the 17"'s the 18" tires would need to be a low profile design. Smaller sidewalls generally mean a rougher ride. I see no advantage in it but that doesn't mean squat.
For some reason, I didn't know that. Thanks for letting me know that the tire diameter is the same because you're going from normal to low profile tires. In my stupidity, I thought the 18" tires were not low profile.

So does that mean the odometer can't be re-calibrated if it's a tire that Toyota doesn't recommend on their vehicles?

I would agree that low profile tires (smaller sidewalls) would equal a rougher ride. Fuel economy would be nil if the diameters are equal imo.
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#5 (permalink) Old 07-15-2012, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by saussage View Post
For some reason, I didn't know that. Thanks for letting me know that the tire diameter is the same because you're going from normal to low profile tires. In my stupidity, I thought the 18" tires were not low profile.
Last month I posted this information which describes what the numbers on a tire mean, and how to choose a tire of a different size while maintaining the same overall diameter. Perhaps it might help explain things for you. It should help you understand why the RAV4 Limited can run on 17" tires and the RAV4 Sport runs on 18" tires.

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Originally Posted by saussage View Post
So does that mean the odometer can't be re-calibrated if it's a tire that Toyota doesn't recommend on their vehicles?
In the old days speedometers were operated by a cable connected to a gear on the transmission. If you changed the tire size or gear ratio in the differential you just replace the plastic gear with another one with a different tooth count. I think it is a little more difficult now since vehicle speed is determine by electronic sensors rather than gears. Also remember that it is not just your speedometer that will be off but your overall gearing will also be changed which affects acceleration and fuel economy. And finally tires of improper size may cause handling problems especially if they make contact with the wheel wells during turns or when hitting bumps.

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#6 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 06:10 AM
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As for winter traction, a tire's ability to cut thru snow for road contact depends on more on the narrowness than the diameter of the tire.

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#7 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:09 AM
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If the 18" wheel/tire combination is the same diameter as the current 17" wheel/tire the speedometer and odometer would still be correct. If you went with a larger 18" tire there is no way to correct the odo/speedo that I'm aware of.

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#8 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:36 PM
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This tire stuff is a science and the advancement in tire composition for meny uses is stellar. The basics for me are: larger diameter goes over the pot holes easier, i feel safer with bigger sidewalls for load capacity, better rolling resistance. Narrow sidewall gives; stiffer ride, less over steer type mush, more scraped rims on curbs, harder to not ware center tread on light vehicles if you don't lower tire pressure a few pounds below vehicle information plate recommendation, easier to damage low sidewalls, low sidewalls look cool but the air pressure is more sensitive to set and maintain.
08 RAV 4.3 Ltd. V6 4wd Bliz. Prl Wht./Ash Averges 23.8 mpg. Love my RAV, handles wonderful, looks great. Thanks everyone!
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#9 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 11:41 PM
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So does that mean that other members on this forum that are using over-sized tires on their Rav4 are just using the odometer as a loose guide and doing something like adding +10km to it to compensate for the tire size increase or are some members with 18"+ tires actually got their odometers re calibrated? If it can't, that means that the sidewalls on the 16" tires must be massive compared to the 17" and 18" wheels. 2011 Rav4 base w/ 17" steelies for now. 9.9L/100km. I had it as low as 9.5 but lots of in-town driving and the AC has been non-stop during the wave of heat waves we've been having.
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#10 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saussage View Post
If it can't, that means that the sidewalls on the 16" tires must be massive compared to the 17" and 18" wheels. 2011 Rav4 base w/ 17" steelies for now. 9.9L/100km.
For the same OD, the sidewall of a 16 inch tire would be 1/2 inch taller than the sidewall for a 17 inch tire -- 1 inch taller than the sidewall for an 18 inch tire.

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