Choosing the correct tire width is essential as it impacts all sorts of things such as handling, acceleration and fuel consumption of your vehicle. In this article, I’ll compare 205mm and 215mm tires so you can decide which will be the best fit for your car.
The Quick Answer
Using 215 mm tires instead of 205 mm tires will result in better traction in dry conditions which helps to improve acceleration. However, 205 mm tires are less prone to aquaplaning and result in better fuel economy and less road noise compared to 215 mm tires. Narrower tires are also less expensive.
|205 mm Tires||215 mm Tires|
|Less prone to aquaplaning||Better grip in dry conditions|
|Slower acceleration and braking||Faster acceleration and braking|
|Better fuel economy||Worse fuel economy|
|Less road noise||More road noise|
|Most Suit 6.0-7.5” wide alloys||Most Suit 6.5-8.0” wide alloys|
Getting new wheels as well? Check out my comparison between 17″ and 18″ wheels for all the pros and cons of each size.
Performance and Handling
One of the main reasons why car owners increase the width of their tires is to improve performance and handling. Wider tires mean there is more rubber in contact with the road and helps to provide better grip in dry conditions. This means the 215 mm tires will result in sharper handling and helps to improve acceleration and deceleration. This is why you’ll often see performance cars fitted with wide tires.
However, this is not the whole story.
Wider tires actually offer less grip in wet conditions and are more prone to aquaplaning. Wider tires have a tendency to float more on water surfaces because the tire has more distance to clear the water. Hence, in the rain and snow the 205 mm tires will be more suitable.
You also need to consider the tread pattern though as this makes a huge difference to the level of grip the tires provide in both wet and dry conditions. It could be possible to get 205 mm tires which are actually more prone to aquaplaning if the tread pattern is not as suitable to wet conditions. Hence, you should always pay close attention to the wet grip rating of the tires you’re buying.
Wider tires create more rolling resistance which means the car has to work harder to travel the same distance at the same speed, hence 215 mm tires will increase fuel consumption compared to 205 mm tires which are more economical. It won’t make a massive difference though. Going up a tire size by 10 mm is likely only to cause a reduction of a couple MPG at most.
Take a look at this table below to demonstrate. Here are several tires with 205 mm and 215 mm widths and the fuel consumption ratings. You’ll notice that there is no difference in ratings between sizes because the difference between ratings equates to 3-4% fuel efficiency.
|Tire||205/45 R17||215/45 R17|
|Bridgestone Turanza T005 V||E||E|
|Continental EcoContact 6 H||A||A|
|Dunlop Sport Mazz RT 2 Y||C||C|
|Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 5 Y||D||D|
|Michelin Primacy 4 V||A||A|
Another issue with wider tires is that they are also louder. Since they give you more contact with the road, 215 mm tires will create more noise than 205 mm tires. Again, the difference isn’t huge though when comparing a 10 mm difference.
The sidewall height is a big factor to consider here though. Tires with a lower profile (sidewall height) will increase road noise compared to chunkier tires which provide more cushioning between the road and driver/ passengers.
Even still, this doesn’t make a huge amount of difference at all as evidenced by the table below which shows the noise rating of different tire sizes.
|Tire||205/45 R17||215/45 R17||215/40 R17|
|Bridgestone Potenza V||71 db||71 db||71 db|
|Continental PremiumContact 6 V||72 db||72 db||71 db|
|Dunlop Sport Mazz RT 2 Y||71 db||71 db||71 db|
|Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 5 Y||72 db||72 db||72 db|
|Michelin Pilot Sport 4 Y||71 db||71 db||71 db|
In general, narrower tires are slightly cheaper than wider tires so you’ll save a bit of cash if you go with the 205’s. However, it really does depend on the manufacturer you’re looking at as well as the aspect ratio and rim size the tire is designed for. If you go for a rarer tire size, expect to pay slightly more than if you were to buy a common stock size.
Want to learn more about the pros and cons of small and large wheels? Check out my complete guide to why wheel size matters to learn more.
Alloy Size Compatibility
Whilst there is some flexibility in how wide a car’s tires can be, they must fall within a suitable range to ensure the tire sits comfortably in the wheel arch. It is also essential that you choose tires which are compatible with your alloy size.
Whilst there are several tire sizes which should fit your alloys (listed in the table below), they will all create a slightly different look.
- If you want the tire to extend past the rim more to provide more protection, go with a slightly wider tire.
- If you’re going for a sportier look and want your tires to be more flush with the rim, go with a slightly narrower tire.
You should always check with the manufacturer before fitting the tires to ensure they are the appropriate size as the limits are not the same for each tire. This will prevent your tires from being “stretched” or fitting too loosely.
|Rim Width||205 mm Tires||215 mm Tires|
|Minimum Rim Width||6.0″||6.5”|
|Maximum Rim Width||7.5″||8.0”|
|Ideal Rim Width||6.5″-7.0″||7.0″-7.5″”|
Make Sure You Consider the Aspect Ratio
Whenever you change the width of your tires, you’ll also be changing the sidewall height (profile). Tires have three main measurements you need to consider:
- The first number is the width of the tire in millimetres e.g. 205 or 215
- The second number is the aspect ratio. This is a percentage of the tire width and dictates the profile height of the tire.
- The third number is the rim size they are suitable for, measured in inches.
Take the image below as an example. The tires are 195 mm wide, and the profile height is 50% of 195 mm, meaning it is 97.5 mm. The tires are made for a 16 inch alloy.
Whenever you increase/ decrease the width, you will be affecting the aspect ratio (sidewall height).
For example, if you currently own a car with 205/45R17 tires and you want to get some 215 mm tires, you can’t just get 215/45R17 tires if you want the wheel to fit in the wheel arch the same as before.
You can alter the overall wheel size to some extent, but it will have an effect on the speedometer. Increasing the overall wheel size will cause the speedometer to read that the car is going slower than it actually is, so it will need recalibrating.
There is some tolerance though when switching tire sizes and it’s not always necessary to recalibrate. Here’s a table to demonstrate the effects of changing from a stock 205/45 R17 to the closest matching 215 mm tire sizes.
|Measurement||205/45 R17 Tires||215/45 R17 Tires||215/40 R17 Tires|
|Tire Width||205 mm||215 mm||215 mm|
|Sidewall Height||92 mm||97 mm||86 mm|
|Overall Wheel Circumference||1930 mm||1963 mm||6045 mm|
|Revolutions||833/ mile||820/mile||847/ mile|
|Speedometer Reading||N/A||1.7% Too Slow||1.6% Too Fast|
As you can see from the table, you would have the option to go with a larger overall wheel (215/45R17) which means your speedometer would say you’re going slightly slower than you actually are, or a smaller wheel (215/40R17) which says you’re going slightly faster than you actually are.
Interested in buying new wheels or tires? Check out Tire Rack for a massive selection of 60 wheel brands and 26 tire brands with next day delivery.
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