Facts about installing larger diameter wheels on your Prius. - Toyota Prius Forum : Prius Online Toyota Forums
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-19-2004, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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Default Facts about installing larger diameter wheels on your Prius.

Today I spent time researching the possibility of changing wheels from the factory installed 185/65/R15 inch wheels which come standard on the 2004 Prius to a larger diameter wheel. The choice is either a 16 or 17 inch wheel.

The advantage of installing of a larger diameter wheel is that that your car will handle better. For proper fitment you will necessarily have to install a tire with a sidewall height which is not as tall as the factory tire. The lower profile tire will give you a harsher ride and will also cause you to replace the tire at 20K miles or less.

If you are concerned that the installation will cause your speedometer to misread your speed and that the trip odometer will not record the true mileage which you have driven is not a concern. After you have installed a larger diameter wheel on your car, you can bring your car to the service department at your local Toyota dealer and they will recalibrate the computer in your car to accurately indicate both the speed and distance driven.

Is it worth the bother? Probably not. Most of us did not buy the car to drive it like a Porsche or SLK 32 AMG Benz. If you were to make the change, you necessarily, for the sake of safety, should install a quality tire such as a Michelin Pilot Sport or a Bridgestone. The Michelins will cost about $190.00 each installed, the Bridgestones perhaps $150.00. Add the cost of a set of quality wheels and your will probably be looking at $1000.00 to $1500.00 to make the change.

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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-19-2004, 03:33 AM
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There is a MPG plenty from having a larger tire, in the city & suburbs. Rollerbladers know that "from a stop" concept well. By increasing the wheel size a few millimeters, starting up again becomes more difficult.

And sharp turns become harder, so we really need to find out what "handle better" actually means with respect to Prius. My guess is that handling is improved at high speeds only, with a penalty when going slower.

On rollerblades, cruising is definitely improved with larger wheels. And since long sustained trips is what I prefer, that is a welcome change. It allows me to glide further between each stroke. Perhaps that translates to a highway cruising MPG benefit for Prius. Hmm?

In short, like everything else in life, there is no magic solution. A trade-off is required if you select either extreme. Fortunately, there are choices in the middle... like the tires that come standard.
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2004, 06:52 AM
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Help me understand this larger wheel thing........
You replace 15" rims and the tires that come on them for 16" or 17" rims with tires that have a slimmer profile. I'm assuming the outside diameter at the tread is not increased in order to have the tires fit properly in the wheel wells. You have gained a different look, a harsher ride and nothing else

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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2004, 07:39 AM
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You gain a different look, which is important to many people, but for daily normal driving you get nothing else.

Note that 16 inch wheels are standard in Japan and Europe (as are rear disk brakes).
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2004, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jamarimutt
Note that 16 inch wheels are standard in Japan and Europe (as are rear disk brakes).
Which is something I find a bit irritating... Does Toyota think we don't need to stop quite as quickly as our european and japanese counterparts?
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2004, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonnycat26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamarimutt
Note that 16 inch wheels are standard in Japan and Europe (as are rear disk brakes).
Which is something I find a bit irritating... Does Toyota think we don't need to stop quite as quickly as our european and japanese counterparts?
There is no adverse affect to stopping distance with the rear drum brakes. This is purely a cost and market acceptence issue. In Europe, rear disc brakes are the price of market entry. They may also offer better fade resistance at high speeds, something else somewhat unique to Europe. The real advantage is cost. The disc brakes are consiserably more expensive than drums. In the US, many vehicles have rear drum brakes, and most don't even know or care.

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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2004, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mdacmeis
There is no adverse affect to stopping distance with the rear drum brakes. This is purely a cost and market acceptence issue. In Europe, rear disc brakes are the price of market entry. They may also offer better fade resistance at high speeds, something else somewhat unique to Europe. The real advantage is cost. The disc brakes are consiserably more expensive than drums. In the US, many vehicles have rear drum brakes, and most don't even know or care.
I disagree, and I think the facts will back me up here. The majority of midsize cars on the market, even GM cars, are all 4 disc brake standard (Alero, Grand Am, Grand Prix, Impala). And having come from a Jetta, and having learned to drive on Saabs, 4 wheel disc brakes are something you definetly learn to appreciate.

The only place you still see the disc/drum combo are on entry level cars. The prius clearly isn't. As you said, it's a cost thing, and we're being held to a lower standard than the overseas people.
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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2004, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Rear drum brakes

I think Toyota figured that most people that spend the extra money to buy a Prius are interested in saving gas, and they are probably not going to be standing on the brakes approaching every red light. If you drive to maximize gas mileage, rear drum brakes are fine. The only time you might need disc brakes is if you do a lot of extreme mountain or high performance driving. And, if you do, you probably bought the wrong car. If you have to worry about faded rear brakes, you should probably be driving a sports car.

Also, all drum brakes aren't necessarily bad. I owned a 1963 Corvette that had drum brakes on all four wheels. Motor trend made repeated stops from 100 mph with no fade. (Just don't try that after driving through deep water!)
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2004, 04:38 AM
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For proper fitment you will necessarily have to install a tire with a sidewall height which is not as tall as the factory tire. The lower profile tire will give you a harsher ride and will also cause you to replace the tire at 20K miles or less.
I'm hoping not all low profile tires require replacement at 20k. When going for low profile tires look at the Michellin HyrdroEdge and MXV4 Plus both come in 17" and in low profiles yet are rated extreemly highly in treadwear. Depending on if you like rock hard tires for maximum mpg these tires could actually be smoother and more comfortable than the OEMs. $1000-1500 does sound right if you also add in extra light weight aluminum alloy rims (better MPG / handling).

Quote:
If you drive to maximize gas mileage, rear drum brakes are fine. The only time you might need disc brakes is if you do a lot of extreme mountain or high performance driving.
In normal driving your probably not going to need it. However in an emergency, inches count. Add in potholes, uneven surfaces and even rain you'll wish you had every ounce of stopping power availible. Too much braking power is better than not enough. If you truly believe only sports cars have rear discs look agian. The Camry(SE, XLE, V6), Accord(EX, V6), Galant(STD), and Mazda 6(STD), and JP/EU Prius all have rear discs. All within the Prius price range, and are all considered midsized family sedans. Don't argue that the Prius is a compact, and should be compared to Corollas or Civics, its not.

Quote:
In Europe, rear disc brakes are the price of market entry. They may also offer better fade resistance at high speeds, something else somewhat unique to Europe. The real advantage is cost. The disc brakes are consiserably more expensive than drums. In the US, many vehicles have rear drum brakes, and most don't even know or care.
Freeways in CA are definately a high speed roads, note 80+ MPH is not uncommon, its called criusing speed. Complete aftermarket drum to disc conversion kits start at $400, an automaker like Toyota would probably be able to get much better prices especially if they designed it into the car. R/D is nill as they could just lift the designs from the JP/EU Prius. Maintainance (pad replacement) isn't neccessarily going to be expensive because of the regenitive braking plus rear discs generally last twice as long as the front discs. Don't forget rear discs are easier to modulate and would could possibly even solve the "weird" braking feel some people complain of. Think of it like the HIDs, they aren't proven to be safer than Halogens. But seeing farther can help you avoid accidents, so isn't it safe to assume being able to stop faster would in turn also help you in avoiding accidents?

If Toyota does it at reasonable costs I'll consider that a good investment for avoiding a call to the insurance company or an ambulance.
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2004, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lasrx
I'm hoping not all low profile tires require replacement at 20k. When going for low profile tires look at the Michellin HyrdroEdge and MXV4 Plus both come in 17" and in low profiles yet are rated extreemly highly in treadwear. Depending on if you like rock hard tires for maximum mpg these tires could actually be smoother and more comfortable than the OEMs. $1000-1500 does sound right if you also add in extra light weight aluminum alloy rims (better MPG / handling).
My Jetta came with 225/45 17s (I believe... too lazy to look it up, but I'm pretty sure that's correct. At least the 225 and the 17 bit). When I got rid of it at 52K miles, only two tires had been replaced (due to some pothole damage). The two original tires still had plenty of tread life to them.

Also, you're absolutely right about the rear discs. It's always been my belief that Toyota should have included rear discs on the prius.
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