Piston Slap: Minus 1 tires for the roads Down Under?

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Piston Slap Australia Toyota Camry RZ
2014 Camry RZ Toyota

Raghav writes:

Hi Sajeev, I currently have a Camry RZ (Australian spec) with a wheel size 225/45/18. I am planning to replace with 255/55/17. Could you please let me know if this is compatible and will not create any issues?

Regards,
Raghav

Sajeev answers:

The short answer is no, that is not compatible: That size increases your tire’s circumference to the point that it will read about 5 mph (8 km/h) too slow on the highway.  While not the end of the world, the discrepancy could land you with a speeding ticket for no good reason.

Luckily there’s a better tire size not far off the mark, a 255/45/17 tire is almost exactly the same circumference. But it’s about an inch wider, which gives your Camry an unflattering sidewall bulge if your new wheels are no wider than stock. So consider getting 235/45/17 tires instead; the circumference is marginally shorter, they won’t bulge, and they are readily available in Australia.

Always use a tire size calculator to ensure that when you buy different-sized rubber it has a similar overall circumference. It’s a great idea, as going down to a 17-inch wheel (a.k.a. Minus 1 sizing) gives you a taller sidewall for an improved ride and less chance of bending a wheel after striking an errant pothole. There’ll be no appreciable change in a Camry RZ’s handling characteristics, provided you stick with the same quality rubber.

C-Class Prime (India)
C-Class Prime (India) Mercedes-Benz India

Although dealing with the increased harshness of oversized wheels is a First World Problem, consider how many luxury cars are sold globally with easily repairable, smaller diameter steel wheels protected by cushy sidewalls. For example, the C-Class Prime presented above likely has a strong following in India, but it’d be lot poison in the U.S.—well, until the dealer puts on aftermarket wheels, or takes the wheels from another unit on the lot … but I digress.

I encourage anyone who has ever winced when taking their 18-inch+ wheeled vehicle over a potholed road to consider doing a Minus 1 tire upgrade. Or Minus 2, 3, and even 4 if you’re rolling around on 22-inch wheels on your Ford Edge Sport. Getting the wheels from a lower trim level looks far less exciting, but do both your wallet (smaller tires are cheaper) and your posterior a solid. And if you have the space, keep the big wheels in storage, as they improve resale value once reinstalled (dry rotted tires notwithstanding). Sad but true, as most everyone believes in the virtues of thinner sidewall tires.

But you should believe in smaller wheels and taller tires!  What say you, Hagerty Community?

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! If you need an expedited resolution, make a post on the Hagerty Community!

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