Reader Question: Changing Wheels?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Mike asks: I have an Acura MDX with 18 inch wheels and the ride is firmer than I’d like. I have been told that if I go down a size to 17 inch wheels the ride will be less so. Is that true and do you think it’s a good idea?

My reply: As is true generally when it comes to modern cars, one has to be careful about changing anything from the way it came – because of what it might do. With regard to wheels (and tires) changing sizes may affect electronic systems set up/calibrated to work with the factory sized wheels and tires. Modern cars have wheel speed sensors that are tied into systems such as the stability/traction control and ABS systems; there may be other affected systems as well. There is also suspension geometry to consider. Most modern cars are carefully integrated systems, with each part of the system affecting the whole. Changing to a 17 inch from an 18 inch wheel ire package may be perfectly ok and may give your vehicle a softer ride. But before you commit to buying a new wheel/tire package, I’d check with your Acura dealer to make sure it won’t cause any problems and to find out what modifications/calibrations may be necessary to make sure there are no problems.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If the overall diameter is the same, nothing changes as far as sensors are concerned.

    Going down a size (overall tire height) or even two is standard practice where we run snow tires six months of the year. Even though my Hyundai has 18″ wheels with low profile tires, when it’s time for snow tires next year I’ll be switching to high profile 16″ tires on my old Honda wheels (yes, they will fit and clear the brakes). The overall change will be a -1, so the car will record more miles than is accurate, and will get slightly worse gas mileage. The much cheaper tires in that size will more than compensate for going from 30 MPG to 29 MPG.

    I won’t bother putting in TPMS sensors. I’ll just deal with the warning light, and the Hyundai will run fine without sensors.

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