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Do Custom Wheels Adversely Affect Ride / Performance?


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I'd like to dress up my 94 ES for the newest driver in the household. Been saving up for wheels. The problem is the dude at my local Sears just totally refused to make a recommendation on wheels. He started ranting about potential problems like ruining the transmission, ruining the handling, getting false readings on the speedometer and on and on. Now I have previously read that if you increase the wheel size (I'm thinking about 17" rims) that the speedometer won't be as accurate. But I can accept a slight variance (+- 5mph)

I don't want a drastically different ride. I like the ride now and would actually like it as smooth as possible since I drive a lot on interstates (welcome to the ATL). I don't want to feel every pebble I run over.

And I would be happy to buy Lexus wheels from another model or year.

So, did I just catch this dude on a bad day? Is it possible that Sears doesn't carry the best wheels for the ES?

If changing out the wheels "ruin" the ride then why do sites like www.tires.com and ww.tirerack.com make bunches of recommendations for compatible wheels?

And do you feel every crack when you go to the low profile tires?

What say you?

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I think that guy at Sears should be given a medal for telling you the truth ... well, mostly the truth ... 17" wheels would not ruin the transmission.

Why do Rire Rack and other companies sell larger wheels for your car? Because your car is getting old, most newer cars have suspensions designed for larger wheels, smaller wheels are less available than they used to be, and -- most importantly -- THEY WANT TO SELL STUFF!!

It never ceases to amaze me how some people are willing to up with an immense amount of pain just to have larger wheels on a car. If you have to have the "look" of larger wheels and don't mind the discomfort of a harsher ride, then go for it.

I know of a couple of people who didn't like the harsh ride that came with the 18" wheels that came as standard on their 05-06 LS430's. They got rid of their 18" Lexus wheels and replaced them with the 16" wheels that came standard on the 01-02 LS430 just to improve the ride quality.

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juat to add my experience.i bought my 93 es300 with 17 inch chrome aftermarket wheels on it with pirelli low profile tires on it.and i hated the ride it was very stiff and pulled my wheel sometimes.after i found the factory wheels for a 97-01 es300 i changed them immediately and the ride is much much better.also my car runs a little quicker and handles a whole lot better.i love the look of aftermarket chrome rims on my baby(thats the new york city boy in me) but i dont want to damage my car by puting big heavy rims on her.

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I'd like to dress up my 94 ES for the newest driver in the household. Been saving up for wheels. The problem is the dude at my local Sears just totally refused to make a recommendation on wheels. He started ranting about potential problems like ruining the transmission, ruining the handling, getting false readings on the speedometer and on and on. Now I have previously read that if you increase the wheel size (I'm thinking about 17" rims) that the speedometer won't be as accurate. But I can accept a slight variance (+- 5mph)

I don't want a drastically different ride. I like the ride now and would actually like it as smooth as possible since I drive a lot on interstates (welcome to the ATL). I don't want to feel every pebble I run over.

And I would be happy to buy Lexus wheels from another model or year.

So, did I just catch this dude on a bad day? Is it possible that Sears doesn't carry the best wheels for the ES?

If changing out the wheels "ruin" the ride then why do sites like www.tires.com and ww.tirerack.com make bunches of recommendations for compatible wheels?

And do you feel every crack when you go to the low profile tires?

What say you?

The larger the wheels and the lower the profile, the more you 'feel' the cracks but also the more you 'feel' you control the car. I am - like your Sears salesperson - against increasing the wheel size except in certain very limited situations if you are 'hotting up' a car and need better cornering ability, and the originals are real 'small'. The 'look' is another matter - I don't particularly like the 'look' of cars with extra-high wheels. 'Pimp-looking', specially when chromed and when the letterings on the car have been changed to gold....

Beyond those considerations: 1. The new wheels and tires must 'fit' in the event of extreme bumps and cornering (the tires must not 'rub' anywhere'; 2. The determination of size of wheels and lower profile tires should be such that the approximate diameter of the original wheels+tires is maintained closest (this also helps with 1. above), and this will keep the speedometer more accurate. You can check on the Website below for combinations of tires and wheels that might be closer fits than others:

http://www.miata.net/garage/tirecalc.html

(The site will also give the change in speedometer readings with different combinations).

Car manufacturers do a lot of testing so that the combination of wheels and tires they provide give you the best compromise of comfort and performance. If the manufacturer offers a different combination (and if the suspension range/settings are not different), try to be as close to the one you prefer as possible.

Good luck with your choices....

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Poorly done anything will result in poor results.

Asking a dairy farmer which chicken makes the best eggs is like asking a sears rep about modifications.

You can go up from 16 to 17 and will barely notice anything. A properly done ratio where the outside diameter of the tires are matched so the same speedometer readings and transmission ratios are kept.

From a +1 sizing upgrade the only differences is more road noise from bumps and road cracks. Slightly better cornering ability due to a smaller sidewall, and a slight increse in tire costs. Also the unsprung weight may change depending on the weight of the actuall wheel tire combo. This can cause the car to feel more bumps on the road and not follow it as well. Stay away from anythign chrome as it adds 10 pounds which is a ton in unsprung weight as it does not allow the suspension to react quickly to changes.

Again with a +1 16 to 17 the difference is so minimal yu'll probably never be able to tell.

Go to tire rack for some honest answers and results.

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I'm with SKperformance's input on this. Asking 'can I put plus-sized wheels/tires on my vehicle and what will that do to my ride/performance?' is such a totally "loaded" question. There is no one-answer to this question, for it all depends on the hardware, the combination, and the fit-up. We have 18" custom wheels on our 1995 ES300, and it rides and drives BEAUTIFULLY!! It's smooth and quiet, never rubs, is responsive, doesn't pull with grooves in the roadway and is overall fantastic. On the other hand, I have RX330 factory wheels (18") on my RX300 (stock are 16" wheels) and it rides with a lot of road noise, it tracks with grooves and ruts in the pavement, and that's with a taller sidewall tire.... and that's with factory wheels.

There are some guiding principles with wheels:

Heavier wheels drive a little more solid due to rotating momentum and the gyroscopic effect, but they are harder on the vehicle's steering system to turn at speed, especially rapid turns. They are also harder on the suspension system due to more mass to have to deal with.

Heavier wheels result in more unsprung weight.

Taller sidewalls on tires result in more sluggish handling, but give a more compliant and soft ride

Shorter sidewalls on tires result in more crisp handling response, but give a more harsh ride

But all this is subjective (tire rubber compound has an effect as well as other factors), and could be very minimal in end effect. It could also be affected by offset and match-up of tire width with wheel width. I can't tell you how many little lowered cars I've seen where they stretch a narrow, low-profile tire onto a wide wheel... it looks like crap, and the tire's sidewall is all undercut. That's make the car ride very harsh.

If you are looking for aftermarket/custom wheels, go to the experts who know how to match up wheels and tires, which is http://www.tirerack.com or http://www.1010tires.com/ or www.discounttire.com ...not the Sear's guy.

One thing to note, I've read where there could be concerns that overall larger wheel/tire combinations can overpower the brakes on some vehicles, for the brakes were designed for a specific moment force (rotational force developed by the lever-arm distance from the hub of the wheel to the contact surface of the tire). This results in a safety hazard. I've seen many big Tahoe's with 20"+ wheels/tires on them with these little tiny (in comparison) single piston brake calipers poking between the spokes. Probably not a good combination. Plus-one or plus-two sizing probably won't cause any problems.

A little information and education on this topic will go a long way in how happy you are with your end result.

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I'm with SKperformance's input on this. Asking 'can I put plus-sized wheels/tires on my vehicle and what will that do to my ride/performance?' is such a totally "loaded" question. There is no one-answer to this question, for it all depends on the hardware, the combination, and the fit-up. We have 18" custom wheels on our 1995 ES300, and it rides and drives BEAUTIFULLY!! It's smooth and quiet, never rubs, is responsive, doesn't pull with grooves in the roadway and is overall fantastic. On the other hand, I have RX330 factory wheels (18") on my RX300 (stock are 16" wheels) and it rides with a lot of road noise, it tracks with grooves and ruts in the pavement, and that's with a taller sidewall tire.... and that's with factory wheels.

There are some guiding principles with wheels:

Heavier wheels drive a little more solid due to rotating momentum and the gyroscopic effect, but they are harder on the vehicle's steering system to turn at speed, especially rapid turns. They are also harder on the suspension system due to more mass to have to deal with.

Heavier wheels result in more unsprung weight.

Taller sidewalls on tires result in more sluggish handling, but give a more compliant and soft ride

Shorter sidewalls on tires result in more crisp handling response, but give a more harsh ride

But all this is subjective (tire rubber compound has an effect as well as other factors), and could be very minimal in end effect. It could also be affected by offset and match-up of tire width with wheel width. I can't tell you how many little lowered cars I've seen where they stretch a narrow, low-profile tire onto a wide wheel... it looks like crap, and the tire's sidewall is all undercut. That's make the car ride very harsh.

If you are looking for aftermarket/custom wheels, go to the experts who know how to match up wheels and tires, which is http://www.tirerack.com or http://www.1010tires.com/ or www.discounttire.com ...not the Sear's guy.

One thing to note, I've read where there could be concerns that overall larger wheel/tire combinations can overpower the brakes on some vehicles, for the brakes were designed for a specific moment force (rotational force developed by the lever-arm distance from the hub of the wheel to the contact surface of the tire). This results in a safety hazard. I've seen many big Tahoe's with 20"+ wheels/tires on them with these little tiny (in comparison) single piston brake calipers poking between the spokes. Probably not a good combination. Plus-one or plus-two sizing probably won't cause any problems.

A little information and education on this topic will go a long way in how happy you are with your end result.

The alternative to putting larger rims on the vehicle is to lower it with some simple lowering springs. Maybe even put on some KYB GR2 struts while you are at it. It may increase the spring rate about 15% and will give you a low profile, possibly less drag which, can result in increased performance. There are some springs out there that will drop the front 1.1" and the rear about 0.9". Not too much but, just enough to give it a sleek look. Check out the '00-'01 ES 16" rims. They are very nice and are silver. Here is a link for them at a great price new: http://www.wheelsandcaps.com/w_selection.a...mp;_MODEL=ES300

Hope this provides a different perspective.

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I am facing a similar problem with my 03 ES300. I was told my one 'knowledgeable' salesperson that almost all aftermarket rims (even in +1 or +2 scenarios) can cause the car to 'shake' at hwy speed. He told me to stick with OEM wheels to avoid this problem because my Lexus was tuned with those wheels. Does anyone has that problem or opinion on the subject? THX

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I am facing a similar problem with my 03 ES300. I was told my one 'knowledgeable' salesperson that almost all aftermarket rims (even in +1 or +2 scenarios) can cause the car to 'shake' at hwy speed. He told me to stick with OEM wheels to avoid this problem because my Lexus was tuned with those wheels. Does anyone has that problem or opinion on the subject? THX

Maybe he was talking about the increased weight of larger wheels and tires magnifying the symptoms of even slightly worn suspension components and causing vibrations or magnifying existing vibrations. Yes, your Lexus suspension is "tuned" for the weight of the standard wheel and tire size. I'm far from an expert on this sort of stuff but I know that the spring rate of standard springs often doesn't cope well with the additional weight of oversize tires and wheels.

The increased weight of only a +0 setup on my first LS400 -- went from 205/65 to 225/60 tires on standard wheels -- made for unpleasant handling and ride although the car did track better on the highway.

If you feel that you just have to go with +1 or higher, I suggest that your main focus should be on the total weight of your new tires and wheels. Shoot for a combination that is as low as possible and as near as possible to the weight of the original tire/wheel. As several have said, avoid chrome wheels since chrome adds weight.

The stories in this thread about the advice tire/wheel salesmen have given is encouraging. It's nice to hear that some salesmen are giving good advice and not just trying to push product out the door.

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I'm sorry, but your suspension is not nearly as 'tuned' as you may think it is. The ES300 uses many sister parts of the Camry, and shares some with the RX300, Highlander, etc. If you ever go looking for suspension parts, many of the bushings and what not are interchangeable for many different Toyota vehicles... so, many different vehicles use different wheel/tire combinations with similar suspension components. In addition, the shocks/struts are outsourced, especially if they've ever been changed out. KYB is the factory replacement for several of these vehicles, do you think they are tuned for each vehicle's wheel/tire combination? In addition, cars are designed to be able to change out to snow tires which nearly always run steel wheels (much heavier that alloys)... in fact, your spare is a steel wheel and it is designed to be able to run with one steel wheel and others alloy without adverse effect to the vehicle (on a full sized spare).

Size of the wheel doesn't determine weight. There are some seriously light alloy wheels out there in +2 & +3 sizes... way lighter than factory alloys. It's what the wheel/tire is made of, it's geometry, etc that determines weight.

Also, many, many manufactures offer plus-sized wheels/tires as an option on the same make/model of vehicle... from the factory!! Do you think they switch the suspension components and tuning to accommodate the plus sized wheels/tires when you check that little factory option box? No.

The one biggest piece of advice I can give on the question of plus sized wheels/tires and how they will affect your ride is to avoid ANYONE who gives you 'blanket-statement' input on the subject. Anyone who says stuff like, "plus size wheels will give you vibrations" or "plus size wheels will reduce ride quality" is someone you don't want to be taking input from. Each wheel and tire combination will give their own unique result based on wheel size, weight, offset, material, etc. and the vehicle set up they are on. I can sit here and say theoretically larger diameter tires/wheels should ride smoother, for they have larger rolling circumferences with less curvature, and that will mask more irregularities in the roadway.... but that's not always the case, since bigger wheels these days have lower profile tires, which transmit more impact and vibration. There is no clean one-answer-fits-all-cases answer. You have to find the right combination for what performance/ride you want... THAT is the correct answer.

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New aftermarket wheels only shake when idiots who don;t know what they are doing install wheels.

You have to get the center bore adapters if the wheel is not made for the car .

It aligns them so it will not vibrate from being installed improperly.

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I'd like to dress up my 94 ES for the newest driver in the household. Been saving up for wheels. The problem is the dude at my local Sears just totally refused to make a recommendation on wheels. He started ranting about potential problems like ruining the transmission, ruining the handling, getting false readings on the speedometer and on and on. Now I have previously read that if you increase the wheel size (I'm thinking about 17" rims) that the speedometer won't be as accurate. But I can accept a slight variance (+- 5mph)

I don't want a drastically different ride. I like the ride now and would actually like it as smooth as possible since I drive a lot on interstates (welcome to the ATL). I don't want to feel every pebble I run over.

And I would be happy to buy Lexus wheels from another model or year.

So, did I just catch this dude on a bad day? Is it possible that Sears doesn't carry the best wheels for the ES?

If changing out the wheels "ruin" the ride then why do sites like www.tires.com and ww.tirerack.com make bunches of recommendations for compatible wheels?

And do you feel every crack when you go to the low profile tires?

What say you?

I just put a set of new "FAST Evolution" chrome wheels on my 02 LS.

Went from the factory 17" to 18" wheels with 40 offset instead on the original 45.Had to add a 3mm spacer to clear the huge front calipers though.

Added Michelin Primacy Primacy MXV4 tires (245 x45X18)and the ride is perfect.Looks really great too!!

Speedometer is dead on as well, because new tire diameter is almost exactly the same as what came on the car.

No regrets. B)

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