How does wheel size affect fuel economy?

By blogsadmin | Posted in CARite Louisville, Informational List, Service & Repair, Tips & Tricks on Monday, August 29th, 2016 at 5:25 pm
does wheel size affect mpg

Having certain size wheels on a vehicle can both improve and hinder performance levels, one of those levels being fuel economy. Wheel size is huge when it comes to gas mileage, different wheel sizes affecting the weight of the car and the rolling resistance. For more details, see our CARite research below as to how wheel size affects fuel economy.

Read More: When Should You Replace Your Brakes?

used car financing louisville
Wheels and mpg

Wheel Size and Fuel Economy

Larger wheel sizes, though they add a certain aesthetic appeal, are not generally helpful in increasing or maintaining efficient fuel economies. The larger wheel sizes increase the weight of the vehicle overall, taking more fuel to power it than it would with smaller tires. Having larger wheels also means there is a wider width which in turn creates an increased rolling resistance. As the rolling resistance increases, the engine has to work harder and use more fuel to move the tire.

Below you can see a chart of how wheel size affects the fuel economy of the Volkswagen Golf 2.5.

Wheel Size 19 x 8.5 in 18 x 8.0 in 17 x 8.0 in 16 x 7.5 in 15 x 6.0 in
Fuel Economy 21.1 mpg 21.9 mpg 22.8 mpg 22.9 mpg 22.9 mpg

As you can see from the chart, while there is a difference between the fuel economies of the 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 inch wheels, the difference is marginal. So if you want those 19-inch wheels for a bold road style, go for it. Keep in mind however, that wheel size also affects the speedometer reading of a vehicle. Using the same example with the VW Golf, moving between the 15 inch and 19 inch wheels there is a speedometer error of up to three miles per hour.

vehicle tips and tricks
You can test drive the Volkswagen Golf at CARite! We have a large selection of certified used models with low pricing and high quality. Our service department can even get you the wheel size you prefer and install the tires for you. Contact our dealership today for more information.

10 Responses to “How does wheel size affect fuel economy?”

  1. Neil says:

    i have changed my tire from 175/70/r14 to 185/70/r14-will this have any difference on the amount of fuel it chews and also the suspension..

  2. Kevin says:

    There’s an 8.5% difference in fuel economy between the 15in wheel size and the 19in. Definitely not marginal.

  3. Mike lindquist says:

    This is stupid. The person writing this doesn’t grasp the topic enough to be speaking to it. First you need to speak to tire circumference and width not wheel size. Secondly, taller tires can be had without going wider. A 225 75r 15 is considerably taller than a 225 45r15 but they are the same width The person writing this should know the difference. You can get bigger wheels on a vehicle without increasing the tires outside diameter. Not to mention different vehicles have different efficiency rpm ranges and different final drive ratios. .On a vehicle with low gearing, ie my old ford 3/4 ton, that has an engine reving at high rpms could gain mpg with larger circumference (not wider though) tires in that if would be like adding a mild overdrive situation, the engine wouldn’t be revving so high to go the same speed. A better comment would habe been to state the a vehicle generally gets its best mpg in a range between lugging down, there by over working it and over revving it, there by making power that they vehicle isn’t using. I didn’t even mention ply rating and tie weight yet. Very vague pointless article.

  4. Janice Lee says:

    If anyone thinks larger wheel will make his fuel efficient then he is wrong. Because the genuine answer is larger wheels never help to increase fuel economy of the vehicle. Yes, larger wheels put some impact on the aesthetic appeal of car, but the most unpleasant logic is as the wheel size increases, the overall weight also increases and a car consumes more fuel to travel a mile than that of a car having smaller wheel. Again larger wheel means lager tire, and no secrete in the fact that lager tires usually have higher rolling resistance as compared to smaller tires, as a result of which it consumes more fuel during its displacement over a certain mile.

    • KR says:

      Omg so many uneducated answers here, WTF PPL???

      You can get larger diamter rims (withing reason) and get tires that end up with the same outside diameter as stock.

      I mean seriously how stupid is the guy writing this article and did 99% of you responding not make it past 4th grade????

      • Namo says:

        I’m in awe. Had 17 x 7 225 and now 18×7.5 x45. I was getting 28.3 mpg Now i am getting 26.6mpg. What happened? Initially rims were 22lbs now 16lbs No change in weight do to larger tires and litgher rims. Were near identical. I also changed the exhaust about this time so I am unable to pin point the problem. My tsx now runs with some TE37 18’s and a Tanabe touring medallion.

  5. Carlos says:

    More rubber on the ground more fuel you use/more resistance

  6. Terry says:

    I went from 225x55x17 to 225x45x17. What affect if any will that have?

  7. Neeraj Hans says:

    My old tyre spec were 195R1565 I have replaced to 210R1565. What will be the affect on Ford EcoSport 1.5 diesel.

Leave a Reply