Fitting bigger wheels to any car won’t necessarily ruin the ride quality. However, there’s a good chance it will have a negative impact on how a car performs when it encounters bumps and potholes in the road.
What about putting bigger wheels on a Dacia Duster?
The model our reader has is the Duster TCe 130. It comes with 16-inch wheels as standard. You can upgrade to 17-inch wheels from Dacia if you wish. However, go to the aftermarket and you will be able to buy 18 and even 19-inch rims. Would we recommend these? No.
First you have to be sure that they will fit in the Duster’s wheel arch and that when they have tyres on them, they won’t hit suspension parts or the arch itself. But more importantly Dacia doesn’t offer 18 and 19-inch wheels for the Duster. And that means that the suspension of its car won’t be tuned to bigger wheel sizes. In turn that is highly likely to result in a compromised ride.
Other things to consider
When you mount bigger wheels on a car you should also consider that the instruments will likely need to be adjusted. And you might find that the ABS and ESP need to be recalibrated to work properly with bigger wheels.
What is ride quality
When we talk about ride quality, we mean how a car behaves when wheels go over bumps and down potholes. When people writing about cars say a ride is ‘smooth’ or ‘compliant’, what they mean is the car is good at absorbing bumps and insulating the people in the cabin from the effects of those imperfections in the road surface.
What affects ride quality
There is an intricate recipe of ingredients that comes together to make a car’s ride. Obviously this includes its suspension (springs and shock absorbers) and the tyres play an important role through how compliant the sidewall is.
Some claim that the lower profile a tyre is (the narrower the sidewall), the less forgiving a tyre will be. But that’s not always the case; it depends on how well designed the tyre has been to absorb bumps.
The wheels and tyres are also important because they are what’s called unsprung mass. That is to say the car’s springs and dampers don’t act directly on the tyres. The heavier that unsprung mass is, the more it will transmit imperfections in the road back through the car’s body.
Do big wheels make ride quality worse?
Bigger wheels will be heavier and therefore carry more unsprung mass. It’s also likely that bigger wheels will have lower profile tyres. That might mean they’ll be less forgiving. In addition, larger wheels are likely to have a greater tyre contact patch with the road. The result of that is there’s more tyre to transmit imperfections into the cabin.
But it really depends if the car’s suspension has been tuned for that size of wheel. Mass market car makers tend to focus their suspension development around the most popular wheel/tyre combination. That can mean extremes of wheel size aren’t particularly well catered for and may not be as well matched to the suspension as smaller diameter wheels.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.