18″ vs 19″ Wheels: Which are Best for Your Car?


Many cars are capable of accommodating 18″ or 19″ alloy wheels, leaving the owner with a difficult choice when modifying their current car or choosing the options for a new one. In this article, I’ll compare all the pros and cons of 18″ and 19″ wheels so you can decide which are the best for your vehicle.

The Quick Answer

Having larger 19″ alloy wheels will result in better handling by improving cornering and stability compared to 18″ wheels. However, the smaller 18″ wheels will be more comfortable and result in less fuel consumption and road noise. The smaller 18″ wheels are also usually cheaper than 19″ wheels.

18” Alloy Wheels19” Alloy Wheels
Higher profile tiresLower profile tires
Less sporty lookingBetter aesthetics
More comfortableBetter handling
Less road noiseMore road noise
Less expensiveMore expensive
18″ vs 19″ alloy wheels

Performance and Handling

Increasing the size of the alloy from 18″ to 19″ will usually mean you are using tires with a lower profile (sidewall height). This gives the car a sportier feel by making the steering feel sharper and improving corning and stability.

However, increasing the wheel size from 18″ to 19″ will also add some weight to the car which can reduce acceleration as the car will find it more difficult to get the larger wheels to rotate.

When making the change from 18″ to 19″ alloys, you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference when daily driving though, both in terms of the impacts it’ll have on handling and acceleration.

WINNER: Draw

Comfort

One of the main reasons why some car owners switch from a larger to a smaller alloy, is to improve comfort. As I mentioned earlier, having a larger alloy means the tire wall height must be reduced to ensure the wheel fits in the arch comfortably. It’s this difference that affects how comfortable the ride is.

With lower profile tires on 19″ wheels, there is less of a cushion between the driver and the road which makes the ride feel a lot sportier and firmer. The negative to this is that it can feel quite harsh, particularly when going over potholes.

With 18″ wheels, the cushion is increased due to the larger sidewall height making country lanes and bumpy roads feel a bit more pleasant. The extra sidewall height also makes them less likely to blow out due to a pothole.

WINNER: 18″ Wheels

Appearance

One of the main reasons why car owners increase the size of their alloys is because it usually makes the car look better. This is of course a personal preference and there becomes a limit to increasing the alloy size.

When you go from 18″ to 19″ wheels, the tire aspect ratio will decrease meaning the wheel arch will be filled with more of the alloy, and less of the tire as a percentage. In a lot of cases, this does make the car look better and it’s the reason why many car manufacturers put larger alloys on their higher trim levels.

However, if the car is driving round with tires that look like elastic bands around the alloy because they are so slim, then this often makes the car look worse. It’s best to have a look at your car with different size alloys online before making the switch to make sure you like the look of the new size.

WINNER: 19″ Alloys (most of the time)

Fuel Consumption

As I mentioned earlier in the previous section, larger alloys mean more weight, and hence the car has to work harder to get it to travel the same distance at the same speed. This of course has a negative impact on fuel economy.

Switching from 18″ to 19″ wheels is likely to have a negative effect on your fuel consumption but only by a couple of MPG so you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference in your fuel bill.

Sometimes, tires for 19″ wheels will also have a slightly lower fuel consumption rating compared to tires for 18″ wheels. However in most cases this is not a factor worth considering. Check out the table below outlining the fuel consumption rating of tires for 18″ and 19″ tires and you’ll notice that pretty much every brand indicates no difference in rating.

WINNER: 18″ Wheels

Tire225/40 R18 Tires225/35 R19 TiresDifference
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5 YDDNone
Pirelli Cinturato P7 Y BC1 Grade
Michelin Primacy 4+ Y CCNone
Continental EcoContact 6 YAANone
Bridgestone Turanza T005 Y BBNone
Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT2 YCCNone
Hankook Ventus s1 evo3 YDDNone
Uniroyal RainSport 5 YCCNone
Impact of tire size on fuel consumption

Noise Level

Another advantage of smaller alloys is that they tend to produce less road noise because again, the sidewall height is larger. Chunkier tires mean there is more rubber between the driver and passengers and the road which helps to reduce the amount of noise the wheels create.

The difference between 18″ and 19″ wheels isn’t going to be huge though. I’ve listed some popular tires below and their noise ratings for each size so you can see the difference. In pretty much all cases, the manufacturers do not state a difference in the noise rating, and at most it tends to be 1 db.

WINNER: 18″ Wheels

Tire225/40 R18 Tires225/35 R19 TiresDifference
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric Y71 db71 db0 db
Pirelli P Zero Y71 db71 db0 db
Michellin Pilot Sport 4 Y72 db72 db0 db
Continental ContiSport Contact 6 Y72 db72 db0 db
Bridgestone Turanza T005 Y72 db72 db0 db
Dunlop SP Sport Maxx Y71 db72 db1 db
Uniroyal RainSport 5 Y72 db72 db0 db
Hankook Ventus S1 evo 3 Y72 db72 db0 db
Impact of wheel size on road noise

Price

Larger alloys are more expensive in the vast majority of cases. They weigh more so cost the manufacturers more in terms of materials, and they also look better in most people’s opinions so the price is justified in that sense too.

On average, 19″ wheels cost approximately 15% more than 18″ wheels. Check out this table comparing the price of different sizes of the same alloy.

WINNER: 18″ Wheels

Alloy Wheel18” Version Price19” Version PricePercentage Increase
Konig Oversteer$810$93015%
 Enkei Raijn$1100$1250 14%
 Rotiform LAS-R R143 $1420$161013%
BBS XR$1600$200025%
VR Forged D04$2040$22008%
Work Meister M1 3P$3100$410032%
ESR Forged Classic ES14$5200$620019%
Price comparison of 18″ and 19″ wheels

Alloy and Tire Size

Increasing or decreasing the size of the alloy, also will have an impact on the tire sizes you can run. The aim being to keep the overall wheel size as close as possible to the original wheel so it comfortably fits into the wheel arch, and doesn’t affect the car’s speedometer.

If you increase the overall wheel size, then the speedometer will say the car is going slower than it actually is and will need re-calibrating. This is fine to do if you don’t mind putting in the extra effort, but you should ensure that the wheel can still fit in the arch.

If you increase your rim size from 18″ to 19″, then the height of the tire wall (profile) will need to decrease to make sure the wheel’s overall size stays the same.

It’s important to be clear about this because it’s actually the tire wall height reduction which results in many of the difference in ride quality when changing from 18″ to 19″ tires.

Aspect Ratio

The height of the tire wall is a bit complicated to measure because it is ratio, rather than an individual measurement that can be taken in isolation.

There are 3 main measurements to consider when discussing tire size:

  • Width: this refers to how wide the tread is in millimetres.
  • Aspect ratio: this is a percentage of the width.
  • Alloy size: this is measured in inches.

Take the example below.

The width of the tread is 195 mm, the aspect ratio is 50% of the tread width so equals 97.5 mm and the tire is designed to fit a 16″ alloy.

If this car were to change from 16″ to 17″ alloys, the aspect ratio of the tire must decrease to compensate for it. The complication comes in when you are also changing the width of the wheel, because you’ll also need to factor in the change it has on the aspect ratio (side wall height).

For example, a 195/50 tire does not have the same tire wall height as a 205/50 tire. As you’ll remember, the second number “50”, is a percentage of the first. So, the 205/50 tire will have a larger side wall.

The reason that I’m explaining all this is because it’s actually the change in the tires aspect ratio (profile height) when going from a 18″ to 19″ alloy which makes a difference, as well as the alloy size itself.

When changing alloy size, you also will need new tires as these will be a different size. Let’s take this 2022 Audi A4 as an example. You can choose from the following sizes as stock:

  • 18″ alloy with 245/40R18 tires
  • 19″ alloy with 245/35R19 tires

You’ll notice that the tire width (245 mm) is the same for both wheels which helps make this less complicated. The 19″ alloys have tires with lower aspect ratio (35) to make sure the overall wheel size is similar and still fits in the wheel arch.

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Heather

I first became interested in car detailing around 3 years ago and learnt all the main techniques on my very first car. I spend a lot of time detailing my current car, and trying to keep my family's cars looking presentable too!

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