Winter / Snow Tire Tech

Size Selection of Winter / Snow Tires

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Priorities for Sizing Winter Tires Are Different

Original Equipment tire and wheel sizing has evolved over the years to where yesterday's typical 13", 14" and 15" sizes have been replaced with today's 16", 17", 18" and larger sizes. For that matter, many current cars, vans and light trucks now feature wide, low profile tires mounted on large diameter wheels as standard equipment or factory options.

"...if you're likely to drive through deep snow this year, you'll want winter / snow tires and wheels in sizes that help put the laws of physics on your side."

Unfortunately wide, low profile tires have to "plow" a wide path through deep snow, where narrower tires have an easier time. So if you're likely to drive through deep snow this year, you'll want winter / snow tires and wheels in sizes that help put the laws of physics on your side.

Save Money While Enhancing Your Vehicle's Deep Snow Traction

Tire Rack's Preferred Winter Packages* often feature alternate sizes that combine smaller diameter wheels (that fit over the vehicle's Original Equipment brakes and within its wheelwell) with narrower, higher profile tires (that have equivalent load capacities and overall diameters). This not only promotes better deep snow traction, but also results in less expensive Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Packages. An additional advantage higher profile tire sizes offer is they feature taller sidewalls and smaller diameter wheels that more easily resist damage associated with winter road hazards and early spring potholes.

Winter Tire and Wheel Packages are available for many vehicles. Select our Preferred Package* for your vehicle or build your own package today.

Winter tire sizes should be based on one of the following:

Your Vehicle's Original Equipment Tire and Wheel Size

While not offering a dimensional advantage, choosing winter tires and wheels in the Original Equipment size to seasonally replace the vehicle's Summer or All-Season tires will offer more traction in cold temperatures, slush, snow and ice thanks to the winter tire's tread design and compound that remains pliable in below-freezing and sub-zero temperatures.

The Tire and Wheel Size From Your Vehicle's Base Model

This is often an easy way to select an appropriate narrow tire for your car, van or truck. For example, a 2012 Honda Accord EX Sedan would store its original 225/50R17-sized tires in favor of the 2012 Honda Accord SE Sedan's 215/60R16-sized winter tires on 16" wheels. While only a small dimensional difference, this combination will reduce your cost while increasing your vehicle's wintertime traction.

A Minus Size Tire and Wheel

Minus Sizing uses traditional Plus Sizing techniques in reverse. It combines taller profile tires with smaller diameter wheels. For example, the owner of a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SEL would store the original 225/45HR17-sized tires in favor of a Minus One 205/55R16-size on 16" wheels (where the wheel diameter is 1" smaller and the tire's sidewalls are ½" taller) or Minus Two 195/65R15-size on 15" wheels (where the wheel diameter is 2" smaller and the tire's sidewalls are 1" taller).

Minus Sizing Example for Winter Tires




When choosing base model sizing or minus sizing, not only would deep snow traction be enhanced, but the cost of a base model or minus sized Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package is usually lower than a package maintaining your vehicle's original size tires and wheels.

You can use our Winter Shop by Vehicle link or speak with one of our sales specialists to find tires that are right for you and the winter roads you drive on.

*Preferred Packages available for most vehicles. Most feature minus sizing for cost-effective winter traction.


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