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Rolling In Style

One of the quickest ways to dramatically change the look of your truck is with a new set of wheels and tires, but it’s not as easy as simply bolting them on and driving away.

Ensuring the proper fit is extremely important and failing to do so can result in a number of problems including clearance issues, poor ride quality, reduced traction, incorrect speedometer readings and even vehicle warranty concerns.

The wheels on your truck were made specifically for that vehicle, and are an extremely important factor in how your truck handles and performs. That said, the easiest and most inexpensive way to upgrade your wheels and tires is to shop for aftermarket sets that are the exact same rotational diameter as the ones your truck was fitted with at the factory. For example if your Chevrolet truck came from the factory equipped with 17-inch steel wheels you can easily find the identical dimension of wheels in a variety of styles that are made of aluminum alloy. You can then pair the new wheels up with the same size tires as your truck came from the factory with. In addition to looking great the added benefits of alloy wheels include weight savings that will moderately improve fuel economy and because alloys dissipate heat better than steel wheels you may also notice improved braking performance.

If, however, you want bigger wheels to amp up the bling factor but wish to maintain the factory rotational diameter you will need to select tires that are of a lower profile. This is called “plus-sizing” or “up-stepping” and allows you to increase the diameter of your wheels while maintaining the same overall rolling radius. Essentially what this means is if you stood one of your trucks 17-inch factory installed wheels with the original tires alongside a larger set of 20-inch wheels with lower profile tires they would be the exact same height. The advantage to plus-sizing is an increased wheel size that may accomplish the desired look you’re going for.

Although they look great it’s important to note that lower profile tires typically ride rougher than taller tires and may not offer the same level of traction in mud or snow.

When it comes to big tires like the massive 35-inch rollers you see on trucks built for extreme off-road applications, typically the installation of these larger tires requires that your trucks suspension be raised to accommodate the added height of the tire. Spacers may also be required to make room for any added width. In many jurisdictions it is also illegal to have tires that extend wider than the lip of your trucks fenders so flares may be required to finish the job completely.

Although suspension lift kits are available for your specific brand of truck it is always best to leave this type of modification to a seasoned professional. Larger wheel and tire packages will not only alter your speedometer readings, but also play havoc on your truck’s drive train and steering components so it’s integral to insure everything is installed correctly.

Ultimately any time you change the wheels and tires on your truck it is not as simple as changing your shoes. It’s important to seek the advice and service of a professional installer to insure your new wheels roll into the future problem free.

If you’d like to see how your truck looks with new wheels Fast Wheels Canada offers a free software program on their website with hundreds of wheels to choose from, you can pick your model of truck right down to the colour and click away until you find the exact set of wheels you’re looking for. Check them out on the web at

PaulWilliamsonisalifelongloverofallthings automotiveandamemberoftheAutomobile JournalistAssociationofCanada

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