Have you ever wondered why rear wheels are fairly larger than the front wheels of your car? As an engineer and car enthusiast, lemme explain everything through this article.
Some cars, including most mid-engine cars, are made with larger rear wheels than front wheels. Because it increases acceleration potential, helps to make sharp turns, is good for balance, lifts the rear axle, for aesthetic purposes, keeps less weight of front wheels, & maintains mass inertia.
Although it is necessary to put small wheels on the front, it is also not advisable to be overly obsessed, as it has a number of disadvantages.
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Why do cars have bigger rear wheels than front wheels?
We all know that most cars that are available in the market have pretty much identical wheels in both rear and front.
However, a set of mostly sporty cars uses larger rear wheels than the front wheels.
But why is that? Lemme explain with 7 reasons…
1. To increase acceleration potential.
Since the potential acceleration increases as the rubber contacts the road along the axis of the car, having fairly larger diameter rear wheels is beneficial, especially in the motorsports industry.
Because every millisecond matters for them!
2. Help to take sharp turns.
Having smaller wheels in the front helps the vehicle to take sharp turns with ease.
It’s evident that bigger wheels in the front make steering much difficult, and it can jam against the car body.
3. Mass inertia.
As we all know, typically the most of the vehicle’s weight moves to the rear part as you accelerate the car.
If you compare the rear wheels and the front wheels, front wheels usually don’t require a much contact patch as much as rear wheels to take care of many functions, especially including braking and steering.
Further, the mass inertia is another reason why mostly rear wheels are fairly larger than front wheels to provide a better surface contact, resulting in producing a higher wheel tangential force on the ground for quicker acceleration.
But, this theory is applicable when the car is rear-wheel drive.
This is one of the reasons why do most people think having smaller wheels in the front makes cars faster.
4. For the balance
Having large rear wheels helps keep the vehicle in balance. So, the rear wheels need grip/traction to put down the power produced by wheel tangential force.
The front wheels require an excellent reaction and sensitiveness to the steering wheel.
Thus, having wide, large wheels on the back is better for good traction and handling, while the front wheels are a little bit narrower for ease of applying steering force.
5. To put rear axle higher
Car manufacturers tend to put larger wheels in the rear to put the rear axle in a slightly higher position, which is excellent for rear mid-engine cars.
The engine is located between the rear-drive axles and the driver in mid-engine cars. Because it makes packaging much easier for the manufactures.
6. For aesthetics purposes.
I agree that performance and safety are the most significant factors in a car. However, who would want to buy a car that has no aesthetic appeal?
In fact, I have seen enough times where people have installed 16″ front wheels and 18″ rear wheels or 18″ front wheels and 20″ rear wheels solely for a sporty look.
7. To keep less weight in front wheels.
Having pretty much identical wheels to the rear and front in a sports car is a major con in the motor racing industry.
Because it lowers the car performance. So, people put thin and smaller wheels that can split the air better, give better control over the steering wheel, and especially reduce the wheel weight.
Further, having smaller wheels on the front gives the following minor advantages to a car.
- Easier to take sharp turns due to less sidewall roll.
- It improves stability at high speeds.
- You will have better control over wet surfaces.
- Slightly good for the milage.
Do you have to put small wheels in front then?
Although this depends on the car design and the manufacture, mostly you won’t find a good reason to do so from the above reasons other than aesthetic appeal.
Because many of the above reasons apply to sports cars.
Sure, it will save you several bucks on a monthly basis, but I see this as a completely unnecessary thing for regular cars, especially when your manufacture hasn’t specified reducing front wheel size or increasing rear wheel size as a modification option.
If installing larger wheels to the rear or smaller wheels to the front haven’t been specified as options in the user manual, this may affect your car performance badly.
Here are some common problems you may face after fitting the inappropriate wheels on your car,
- You may have to re-calibrate odometer, and speedometer.
- Proper wheel alignment angles issues.
- The wheels may wear out faster.
- The issues with Advanced Driver Assistance Safety system may encounter.
So, it’s not entirely worth it to install smaller wheels to the front if you’re a regular person like me.
However, But sports cars are manufactured to come with this wheel setup, so you don’t wanna worry if you’re thinking about buying a sports car.
Things to be aware of.
Here are some of the things you need to know.
- Consider reading the user manual and educating yourself about your car. Then you can understand what modifications you can do and can’t.
- Just be aware that aesthetic appeal is not everything. If changing wheel size increases the appearance of the car but alters the performance, don’t do it.
- If you really wanna put bigger rear wheels or small front wheels, take a minute and review all the upsides and downsides that I have mentioned earlier in this article. Then, you will realize that it’s not worth it.
- Moreover, having smaller wheels on the front makes the vehicle body frame lower, resulting in scraping the car, or you may find it difficult to drive over speed bumps.
- If you’re unsure what to do, consider seeking advice from professionals.
Who wouldn’t love to drive an excellent car with bigger rear wheels? Most car lovers are curious to know why rear wheels are bigger than some cars’ front wheels. So, We discussed this issue in detail through this article. Hope you found this helpful.