The age-old tire-related question among automotive enthusiasts – Should you go wider? It is a decision that many drivers face at least once in their lifetime and one that never has a good answer. Does size really matter? I think it is always up to satisfying your needs (pun intended), even when it comes to your vehicle's tires.
But let's have a closer look at 225 vs. 245 tires, which are some of the most popular dimensions, width-wise. In this 'Tire Tug of War' article, I will give you all the reasons for and against opting for wider 245 tires if your car has 225 tires from the factory. So, without further ado, let's dive into the world of tires and instill some 'width' wisdom into you.
- Understanding Tire Nomenclature
- 225 Tires: An Overview
- 245 Tires: An In-Depth Look
- Comparing 225 and 245 Tires Directly
- Safety Implications of Changing Tire Sizes
- Factors to Consider Before Switching Sizes
Understanding Tire Nomenclature
When diving into the world of automotive tires, it is crucial to understand tire nomenclature, i.e., the system and convention of naming or designating tire sizes. By doing that, you will be sure you get the right product for your vehicle. This technical jargon might seem daunting initially, but with a deeper look, it unveils a systematic and logical approach to categorizing tires.
1. Basics of Tire Size Notation
At first glance, tire size notations, such as "225/45R17," may appear to be a cryptic series of characters. However, each segment offers specific information about the tire:
- Width (e.g., 225): measured in millimeters; this number denotes the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other. It essentially tells you how "wide" a tire is when viewed from directly in front or behind.
- Aspect ratio (e.g., 45): this is the ratio of the tire's cross-sectional height (or "profile") to its width. In the example above, the tire's height is 45% of its width.
- Construction type (e.g., R): this letter indicates the tire's construction. "R" signifies a radial tire, which means the internal ply cords are radially oriented from the center. This is the most common type for modern vehicles.
- Diameter (e.g., 17): this number, measured in inches, represents the diameter of the wheel that the tire is designed to fit. It specifies the size of the wheel from one end to the other.
2. Importance of Width in Tire Measurements
The width plays a huge role in how the tire performs on the road, and it is perhaps more important than the tire's diameter or sidewall height.
That is because the width directly impacts grip and traction, as it creates a broader contact patch with the road. As a result, you will be able to put your vehicle's power to the ground more effectively, achieve higher speeds in the corners, and enjoy shorter stopping distances.
But wider tires aren't always beneficial when it comes to traction. Namely, narrower tires can sometimes perform better in snowy or rainy conditions as they can cut through the top layer and reach a more solid surface beneath. In other words, they have better hydroplaning properties.
Furthermore, wider tires can increase rolling resistance, potentially affecting fuel economy. While the differences might be marginal in daily driving, they can add up over long distances.
On the flip side, wider tires look better, at least in the eyes of most car enthusiasts. Almost nobody wants their car tires to look like they came from a bicycle, right?
With that said, it's essential to note that while width is a significant factor, it's just one aspect of a tire's overall design and construction. Other factors, like tread pattern, rubber compound, and sidewall stiffness, also play crucial roles in a tire's performance. For instance, a narrower premium tire might still provide a higher grip than a wider cheap tire because it is just built better.
225 Tires: An Overview
225-width tires were considered quite wide in the past, but today, they are almost ubiquitous in modern vehicles, including some economy cars.
Even I have 225-width tires (225/40R18) tires on my Corolla, despite it only having 116 hp (I know, they are overkill, but I like to carve corners and generally keep a higher pace on a twisty road).
But let's have a closer look at 225-width tires to understand their characteristics, applications, and inherent advantages or disadvantages.
1. Characteristics and Common Applications
A tire marked as "225" denotes its width in millimeters, meaning it is 225mm wide from one sidewall to the other when properly mounted and inflated.
This width considered a medium size for many passenger vehicles, is designed to offer a middle ground between grip, fuel efficiency, and ride comfort.
Typically, 225-width tires are found on mid-sized sedans, crossovers, and smaller SUVs. Their balanced width makes them suitable for a variety of applications, from city commuting to highway cruising.
225-section tires are also prevalent in the all-terrain category, where they can handle a range of terrains, from paved roads to light off-road conditions.
However, while 225-section tires offer a good balance between dry and wet grip, their specific performance in rain, snow, or off-road conditions will largely depend on other tire characteristics, like tread design and rubber compounds.
2. Pros and Cons of 225 Tires
I almost never like to talk about the pros and cons of a tire size because each has its use. Namely, if your vehicle was designed with 225-section tires in mind, it means it is optimal for the task at hand. Still, if you upgrade or downgrade to 225-section tires, here are the pros and cons associated with them:
- 225 tires generally offer a good blend of grip, handling, and fuel efficiency, making them a versatile choice for various driving conditions and for most vehicles (except compact cars and crossovers).
- The medium width of these tires ensures that they don't pick up every imperfection on the road, leading to a smoother and quieter ride compared to wider tires.
- Given their widespread use in many vehicle segments, 225 tires are widely available, offering users a plethora of options across different price points and brands. These include touring/grand-touring tires and high-performance tires with summer or all-season tread compounds, winter tires, highway all-season tires, and all-terrain tires.
- While these tires can handle most driving scenarios, they might not excel in extreme conditions like off-roading. For such terrains, wider or more specialized tires might be more appropriate.
- For those who prefer a sportier, more aggressive look, 225 tires might appear too slim on larger vehicles. With that said, they will look positively wide on compact cars.
- While 225-section tires provide a balanced handling profile, driving enthusiasts might find them lacking in terms of maximum grip and cornering prowess, especially when compared to wider tire variants. They should give your compact car an upgrade in grip, though, especially if it was equipped with narrower tires from the factory.
245 Tires: An In-Depth Look
245-section tires are not as prevalent as 225-section tires in regular cars and are mostly installed on high-performance versions. However, it also finds a place on larger vehicles, where the added weight necessitates a wider tread for a safer ride.
1. Distinguishing Features and Main Uses
A tire labeled as "245" indicates its width, measured in millimeters. At 245mm from sidewall to sidewall, when appropriately mounted and inflated, it is notably wider than many standard sizes, including the 225.
245-width tires are commonly associated with larger sedans, sports cars, SUVs, and even some light trucks. The increased width aids in handling and stability and allows for more efficient power delivery on these more powerful vehicles.
Given their width and the vehicles they're often paired with, 245 tires can be designed for a multitude of terrains, from slick performance tarmac to off-road trails.
However, their specific aptitude in rain, dry conditions, or off-roading will depend on other determinants like tread design, sidewall height, and rubber formulation.
2. Advantages and Disadvantages of 245 Tires
Just like 225-section tires, 245-section tires have their place in the industry and are perfect for the vehicles they are designed for. So, if your car came with 245-section tires from the factory, it would be best to continue using the same width the next time you change tires.
With that said, when viewed in the sea of different tire widths (and having in mind the title of this article), 245-section tires have some pros and cons:
- With a broader contact patch, 245 tires generally provide better longitudinal traction (acceleration and braking), making them particularly favorable for high-performance applications or more demanding terrains like large rocks or sand.
- The increased width can contribute to better vehicle stability, especially at higher speeds or during sharp cornering, providing drivers with added confidence.
- For many, wider tires offer a more aggressive, sporty look, enhancing the overall stance of the vehicle.
- Wider tires can result in higher rolling resistance, potentially impacting fuel efficiency to some extent. So, if you put 225-section and 245-section tires on the same car, its fuel efficiency will degrade with the wider tires.
- If not regularly maintained or rotated, wider tires might exhibit uneven wear, leading to a shortened lifespan. Narrower tires can also wear unevenly, but the issue is usually less noticeable.
- Generally, 245 tires might come at a premium price compared to narrower counterparts due to the increased material used and the vehicles they are designed for.
- While they offer better grip and stability, the wider profile might translate to a slightly firmer ride, especially on rough surfaces. This happens because wider tires catch more of the imperfections of the road, but also due to the fact that they are usually accompanied by shorter sidewalls.
Comparing 225 and 245 Tires Directly
When discussing 225 vs. 245 tires, there's more to consider than just 20 millimeters of difference in the tread width. Though both belong to the broader category of "standard" tire widths for many vehicles, these measurements can have profound implications on performance, fuel efficiency, and aesthetics, particularly if you decide to upgrade or downgrade to one or another.
1. Performance Differences
The driving experience of 225-section and 245-section tires will be different, particularly when you push them to their limits.
Namely, a 245 tire, being wider, naturally boasts a larger contact patch – the area of the tire that touches the road. This often results in improved grip, especially under hard acceleration, aggressive cornering, or braking. In contrast, a 225 tire, with its slightly narrower profile, may not deliver the same level of adhesion under similar circumstances.
However, provided both have the same sidewall height, you will get more responsive steering on 225-section tires, i.e., they will react more quickly to your input.
As for driving in wet conditions, there are two factors at play. Namely, assuming similar tread patterns, the 245's bigger groove area can displace more water, reducing hydroplaning risks. On the other hand, though, a narrower tire like 225 will concentrate the vehicle's weight to a smaller area, helping it cut through water more easily and thus reducing hydroplaning.
In my experience, narrower summer tires are usually better at displacing water because the difference in groove width to wider tires isn't very significant. However, for tires with a more aggressive tread pattern, going wider might solve the hydroplaning issue.
In fact, the actual performance of a tire in wet conditions will be a combination of its width, tread design, inflation pressure, and other factors.
2. Impact on Fuel Efficiency
The wider surface area of the 245 tire leads to increased rolling resistance – the force resisting the tire's motion. Moreover, 245-section tires are usually heavier than comparable 225-section tires simply because more material is used to build them. As a result, your vehicle will consume slightly more fuel to maintain the same speed on 245-section tires.
With that said, it's essential to note that the actual impact on fuel consumption can vary based on driving conditions, vehicle weight, and other factors.
3. Influence on Vehicle Aesthetics
Aesthetics are a completely subjective thing, though when it comes to tire width, most people agree that wider is better. Namely, a 245 tire provides a beefier and more aggressive stance, especially when viewed from the rear. In contrast, the 225 offers a more streamlined, 'economy-car' look.
Furthermore, on vehicles with larger wheel wells or those equipped with wheel spacers, 245 tires might fill out the space better, offering a more cohesive appearance. The 225 tires, being narrower, might appear slightly recessed in such cases. I replaced the 205/55R16 tires on my Corolla mostly for that reason – they looked out of place in those wide wheel arches.
In addition, when you upgrade from 225-section to 245-section tires, you will also get smaller sidewalls to keep the same overall tire+wheel diameter. Wider tires with smaller sidewalls have a more "squared-off" look, which makes everything just a tad sharper. That is another reason why I upgraded the tires on my car to larger ones!
Safety Implications of Changing Tire Sizes
Tires play a fundamental role in a vehicle's performance, from braking to handling and even fuel economy, and their width is crucial in balancing those qualities.
Therefore, selecting an inappropriate tire size not only compromises the vehicle's performance but can also introduce serious safety risks. But let's delve deeper into the safety implications of changing from a stock tire size.
1. How Width Affects Road Grip
A wider 245-section tire, in general, has a larger contact patch than a comparable 225-section tire. Thus, it can potentially provide more grip in the corners, meaning you will be able to achieve higher speeds. Wider tires, in general, also offer better longitudinal traction due to the broader contact patch. As a result, you will experience less slipping during hard acceleration.
When it comes to challenging conditions, though, while a wider tire can offer more grip due to its larger contact patch, it also distributes the vehicle's weight over a larger area. This can reduce the pressure exerted on any single point of the tire, meaning less traction in certain conditions like deep snow or heavy rain.
2. Potential Issues in Braking
The grip between the tire and the road surface directly influences braking performance. Wider tires, due to their larger contact patch, can provide better braking on dry surfaces, leading to shorter stopping distances. However, this is directly connected to the tire's rubber compound and tread design.
Still, in some cases, narrower tires might offer shorter stopping distances. Namely, if you put a very wide tire on an economy car with the standard braking system, the tires might overpower it.
In other words, they will have so much grip that the brakes will struggle to block the wheel while braking, resulting in longer stopping distances. This is a rare occurrence, particularly when you compare 225-section to 245-section tires, but it is still important to note for those who want to go with roller-wide tires.
Also, braking systems, especially advanced ones like ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), are calibrated for specific tire sizes. Changing the tire size can alter how these systems function, potentially leading to longer stopping distances or unpredictable brake behavior.
Just like with the lateral grip and acceleration, wider tires can also be more susceptible to hydroplaning if they float on the water layer rather than cutting through it, reducing their braking effectiveness.
Factors to Consider Before Switching Sizes
Changing your vehicle's tire size might seem like a straightforward decision, but it's more than just an aesthetic or performance tweak. Namely, it can also affect the fuel economy of your vehicle and even the suspension system. Let's have a closer look.
1. Vehicle Compatibility and Recommendations
Every vehicle comes with two to three recommended tire sizes. These recommendations aren't arbitrary; they're based on rigorous testing to ensure optimal performance, safety, and longevity of various components.
For instance, when I upgraded the 16-inch rims on my Corolla with 205/55R16 tires to 18-inch rims with 225/40R18 tires, I still kept them under factory specifications. My model came with smaller tires, sure, but Toyota says in the manual that 225/40R18 tires can also be used without any modification. In fact, both tire sizes have a similar diameter of 631.9 mm (16-inch wheels) to 637.2 mm (18-inch wheels).
With that said, you should also make sure that the load rating of the new tire size is equal to or higher than the load rating of your OE tires. Also, larger tires require more space. Make sure that the new tires won't rub against the inside of the wheel wells, especially during turns or when the suspension is compressed. This could lead to premature tire wear or even a blowout.
2. Cost Implications
Compare the same tire, and the wider model will always be more expensive than the narrower one. Moreover, larger tires can increase rolling resistance, leading to a drop in fuel efficiency. Over time, this could result in significant fuel costs.
3. Ride Comfort and Driving Experience
Since wider 245-section tires are usually accompanied by smaller sidewalls, the ride will become harsher, particularly over bad roads. Moreover, due to the wider tread, these tires will produce more noise, which can be tiring on longer distances.
With that said, the width and profile of a tire can greatly influence how a vehicle corners, accelerates, and brakes. In general, a wider, low-profile tire will be sharper to drive by enhancing the steering responsiveness and also offering higher grip.
Still, wider tires are heavier, which makes the suspension work harder to control the wheel. Moreover, due to the higher grip, wider 245-section tires will bottom out the suspension during cornering more readily than 225-section tires. This can prematurely wear some components and limit the effectiveness of the suspension.
Now that you learned all the differences between 225-section and 245-section tires, did that change your mind? Or are you still opting for the wider tire because your heart says so? Or maybe you have already upgraded to wider tires and have some findings to share with us? Either way, we would like to hear from you!
I’m Ivo Gievski, the content writer for Tireer. We built our website with over 15 years of experience and extensive research in the automotive and technology sectors. My dedication to delivering high-quality content is unwavering, and I strive to continuously hone my skills to stay ahead of industry trends and provide readers with informative, engaging, and valuable insights.