In which I learn a lot about tires

7 Apr

2 years ago we bought 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring. We like the car, but we have a lot of issues with broken tires. I seriously thought that perhaps we are just terrible drivers. We have had to replace the tires over and over again, and we have had our rims repaired 3 times and replaced once.

I started looking into it and the issue is that our car, which is a station wagon, came with “high performance” tires. They are also referred to as low profile tires. They are designed for racing. The are very thin and wide which is supposed to help with handling but leaves our rims with very little protection from the road.

I spent some time educating myself on the issue. I learned that we have P215/45R17 tires. A big SUV, like a Honda Pilot for instance has P235/65R17 tires. So what do the numbers mean?

  • The first number, 215, is the width of the tire, across the tread, in millimeters.
  • The second number, 45, is the sidewall measurement. Its a percentage, not millimeters. So 45 means that its 45% the width of the tread. The bigger the number, the more cushy the tire.
  • The last number R17 is the radius of the wheel (aka rims), the metal part.

It was not obvious to me at first, but you can/t just put tires with a larger sidewall on your wheels because it might not clear the wheel well. So if you want fatter tires, you will need to buy new rims too.

You also need to be careful when changing tires because your car was likely designed for a certain wheel width. You can’t just use any old width and expect it all to be the same.

In the end, we have decided that its not worth the risk. We will be replacing the car. Also, wee will never buy a car that has low profile tires again. When buying a car, make sure that you look at those numbers. The 2nd number should be 55 or above or else you will be living in pothole misery land like me.

Some links if you experience this same issue:

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