In the dynamic world of car tuning, enthusiasts are always seeking innovative ideas on how to improve their rides. But today, most people tune their rides to stand out of the crowd, even at the expense of worse performance. Tuning your car so that it performs worse? Yup, that’s a thing in the 21st century.
One such trend that has gained considerable traction is stretched tires. It’s a thing I would never do on my car because I like to drive, but very popular among enthusiasts that want to be seen. Basically, these people stretch narrower tires so that they fit wider wheels.
Why would they do that? Well, because the sidewalls would not be at а straight angle, meaning there is more space for lowering the car without the tires rubbing the fenders. These people are prepared to go to such lengths just to improve the looks of their ride that an inch will make a difference.
Now, for me personally, there is nothing alluring in “hellaflush” or stanced cars that almost touch the ground. It doesn’t appeal to my eyes, though I can understand that some people like it. Still, the idea that the sidewalls should be at a sharp angle just so that the tire fits inside the wheel well and the rim sticks out never stops to amaze me – in a negative way.
And the most interesting thing is that these enthusiasts accept nothing but a completely slammed car. You might be thinking that just slightly lifting the car would also make it look cool while also making it more drivable. But remember that the hellaflush crowd often gather to showcase their ride, and the most heavily stanced cars are usually the most popular (and most Instagrammable) there.
But let’s leave personal opinions aside and talk about stretched tires because there is a lot to cover here. Hellaflush people might hate me for this, but I’ll mostly focus on the safety and performance of stretched tires and whether you should do that (please don’t).
- Why Stretched Tires are Alluring
- How Stretching Works
- Safety Concerns – Hidden Dangers of Stretched Tires
- Impact on Traction, Handling, and Fuel Efficiency
- Tire Durability – Uneven Wear and Reduced Lifespan
- Legal Implications
- How Stretched Tires Affect Manufacturer Warranties
- Impact on Resale Value
- Alternative Solutions – Achieving Style Without Compromising Safety
- So, Should You Stretch Your Tires?
Why Stretched Tires are Alluring
Stretched tires have sidewalls under a sharp angle, bending inwards. As a result, less of the tire is visible on the car, which according to the hellaflush crowd, creates a cleaner look. Moreover, it shows more of the wheel, which of course, looks better than the black rubber that surrounds it – at least according to the stanced car enthusiasts.
Apart from style, as I mentioned in the introduction, people stretch tires to mitigate rubbing. Remember, these cars are slammed to the ground, meaning tires rubbing against the fenders will be a big issue. Still, stretched tires will only give you an additional inch to work with, so fender rolling and widebody kits are also installed on stanced vehicles to mitigate the issue.
How Stretching Works
Stretching tires is a process that involves expanding a narrower tire into a wider wheel. The level of the stretching depends on the width difference between the tire and the wheel. Usually, people go with 1-3 inches of difference, like, for example, an 8-inch wheel on a 10-inch-wide wheel.
But how does stretching work? Down is a step-by-step overview of the stretching process. Before you do it, though, make sure you are equipped with a fireproof mask, gloves, and suit. Why? Read on to find out!
- Choose a wheel that’s larger than the width of the tire. For example, a 225/40R18 tire is 8.85 inches (225 mm) wide, meaning you’ll need at least a 10-inch wheel. The difference in width will create a stretched appearance when the tire is mounted on the wheel.
- Lubricate the tire bead using a tire mounting lubricant. This is a recommended step for every tire installation and ensures that the tire bead slides easily on the rim. You can also use soapy water for lubrication.
- Put the tire inside the wheel and lay them on the ground.
- Now we get to the dangerous part – using a controlled burst of fire to quickly stretch the tire and get it to sit on the rim. This method is known as the fire seating technique and can be hazardous. But let’s say you want to do that. In that case, you should spray a flammable gas (like butane) inside the tire, then push some air inside (with a tire inflator) and set it on fire. This will create a small explosion that will stretch the tire quickly thanks to the added heat and quick pressure increase.
- Immediately inflate the tire using a powerful air compressor to maintain the seal between the tire bead and the wheel.
- Balance the tire and wheel assembly, just like you would do when installing a regular tire. Doing this will ensure proper alignment and even weight distribution. Unfortunately, you’ll need a special and expensive machine to balance your tires.
- Mount the stretched tire and wheel assembly onto the vehicle.
Safety Concerns – Hidden Dangers of Stretched Tires
As you probably noticed, stretching tires is a dangerous procedure that you should approach with maximum care. So, even before you put stretched tires on your car, you are subjecting yourself to a dangerous procedure. Hence, I recommend stretching your tires at a shop with experience on the matter.
But safety is a concern after you put the stretched tires on your vehicle as well. See, the sidewall of the tire, with the help of pressurized air, is the part that carries most of the load of the vehicle. In order to carry the rated load, the sidewall should be relatively upright, i.e., at a straight angle to the wheel or ground.
So, when the sidewall is at an angle relative to the wheel or ground, it won’t be able to carry as much weight. In other words, the load capacity on stretched tires is lower. Extreme loads can put a higher strain on the sidewall, which can start to bend even further.
Numerous issues can result from a bent sidewall, including tread separation, sidewall bulges, or a blowout. All of these issues can be a safety hazard and can lead to potential accidents that might be fatal.
But the problems don’t stop there. The belts of the tire that sit under the tread will also be stressed due to higher pressure from the sides, which can cause tread separation. Moreover, the beads will be stretched to conform to the larger wheel, which can lead to a pressure loss.
Basically, by stretching the tires, you put unnecessary strain on all internal components and make them do things they weren’t designed for. If stretching tires were somehow good for safety, manufacturers would’ve designed the tires to be stretched.
Impact on Traction, Handling, and Fuel Efficiency
Stanced cars only look fast. Yup, although they look like they could beat an F1 car on a track, stanced cars are literal crap in the corners. They are also garbage under braking and under acceleration.
I’m saying all of this from experience. Fortunately, I didn’t stretch my tires, but I have a few friends that did that and let me try their hellaflush machines.
And let me tell you, the driving experience was horrible. The tires were unresponsive and lacked grip almost everywhere while also being extremely uncomfortable. I was even afraid at moments, even though I was only driving in the city. There is a reason why drivers of stanced cars with stretched wheels drive slower than bicycles!
And there is science in the reduced traction of these tires – it’s not just me imagining things. Notably, stretched tires have a smaller contact patch because to fit them on any vehicle, you’ll need to run an extreme camber. This can lead to reduced traction, especially in wet conditions. It may increase the likelihood of losing control of the vehicle, particularly during hard cornering or emergency maneuvers.
Moreover, stretching the tires will cause uneven weight distribution, negatively impacting the handling balance.
But with stretched tires, you also lose performance, as your engine needs to work harder to spin those humongous wheels. This also impacts fuel economy – expect far lower mpg numbers than before.
So, it is obvious that stretched tires aren’t a good solution if you use your vehicle as a daily driver. Sure, your car will still get you places, but without the comfort, you’d expect from a regular vehicle, and certainly without the grip.
Tire Durability – Uneven Wear and Reduced Lifespan
You thought that stretched tires only impacted the way your car drives? Think again! Stretching the tires will also dramatically reduce their lifespan simply because you make them do things they weren’t designed for.
For starters, since you’ll be putting stretched tires on a stanced car with extreme negative camber, there will be an excessive disproportion of wear on both sides of the tire. But not just that – the side that touches the ground will wear much faster, even only after 1,000 miles!
But that is not all! Since you are stretching the tire past its limit, various other issues can appear. Notably, stretched tires often suffer from bulges on the sidewall and the tread, but also cracked rubber compound and wires exposed visible on the tire.
And you know what’s the most interesting thing? Hellaflush enthusiasts usually equip their cars with cheaper tires because they wouldn’t want to annihilate tires they paid a fortune for. Still, cheaper tires are much less durable, especially when pushed past their limits, so it’s not like you’ll be saving a ton of money.
Ever wondered what would happen if you had an accident with stretched tires on your car? Well, wonder no more because I will tell you everything you need to know, and it’s not good!
For starters, stretched tires are illegal in most jurisdictions, meaning they will probably be blamed for the accident, even if you were not at fault. This is because stretched tires may not meet the requirements for tire width, sidewall height, or load-carrying capacity in some regions, potentially making them illegal for use on public roads.
Things will be even worse if the stretched tires somehow contributed to the accident, where you will be almost certainly held liable for damages or injuries. It is also certain that the insurance company won’t cover the repair costs of your vehicle, especially if you didn’t inform them about the stretched tires in the first place.
All in all, cars with stretched tires are almost never covered by insurance, but crucially, they can lead to serious road accidents where people could be seriously injured.
Although that should be your last concern in those scenarios, you will be held liable and face serious fines. Thus, be sure to consult local regulations, discuss modifications with your insurance provider, and weigh the potential risks against the aesthetic appeal.
How Stretched Tires Affect Manufacturer Warranties
Installing stretched tires on a new car that’s still under warranty is borderline foolish. That is, of course, if you are not prepared to lose your warranty just for the sake of having a hellaflush car. Installing stretched tires can be considered an unauthorized modification or alteration, potentially voiding any warranties related to the suspension, wheels, brakes, or other affected components.
Therefore, before even thinking about putting larger wheels and stretched tires on your new and shiny car, at least consult the authorized dealer about whether it will void your warranty. In most cases, it will, but you might still keep the warranty if you only do small modifications that are within the factory limits.
Impact on Resale Value
By now, you learned that you’d be losing quite a lot of money by stretching the tires. Stretched tires don’t last very long, meaning you’ll be replacing them more often, but they also require expensive suspension modifications.
And the worst thing about these modifications is that the resale value of your car will just tank. Prospective buyers may be hesitant to purchase a car with voided warranties or potential legal issues, making it more difficult to sell your vehicle or recoup your investment.
Would you buy a slammed car with stretched tires? I know I wouldn’t!
Alternative Solutions – Achieving Style Without Compromising Safety
Style is an important factor in the automotive world, and I am all for sexier cars. Fortunately, you can make your vehicle stand out from the crowd by doing modifications that are safe on the road, within the car manufacturer’s specifications, and that will increase the value of your car.
Obviously, the first one is installing larger wheels and wider tires (within manufacturer specifications), but not stretched! I don’t know about you, but a large tire and wheel that fit like a glove look more appealing to my eyes than a stretched tire. You can even go for performance tires and reap the benefits behind the wheel. Why not enjoy your stylized car while you are driving?
Furthermore, you can put some lowering springs or coilovers. There is no need to go overboard – an inch or two will give that racing look to your car yet keep it drivable on the road.
Not to mention, the manufacturer won’t void the warranty of your car, and you will be able to insure your car. You can also put wheel spacers to push the wheels slightly out, which not only gives the car a wider stance but also improves stability.
Another upgrade that I really like is body kits and vinyl wraps. These will further improve the looks of your car’s body without doing any damage. Besides, you can go crazy with some wild colors and spoilers to make your car stand out even more. And guess what – it will still be road safe!
So, Should You Stretch Your Tires?
Video created by Fitment Industries
I would say that if you use your vehicle daily, stretching the tires will make it worse in every possible aspect. It will be less comfortable, worse to drive, more expensive to run, and unsafe at higher speeds.
You could get away with stretched tires if you only prepare your car for some showroom extravaganza, but make sure you revert to a regular tire/wheel combo when you put the machine back on the road.
If you have read this far, you either hate me or like me. Both are okay! I mean, my rant on stretched tires certainly won’t change the minds of enthusiasts that are really into it, although I secretly hope it will.
With this article, I want to influence the people that are on the fence and tell them that stretching the tires isn’t really worth it. I always strive for higher road safety – that’s the reason I write for tires. And, of course, I don’t like when someone messes with them.
I know that if you are an enthusiast, there is pressure from the community to do things you probably thought were stupid before. But, come on, you shouldn’t be upgrading your car to please other people. Do it for yourself!
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.