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The Tire Rack's Tire & Wheel Forum
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Old 06-23-2014, 04:20 PM   #1
PK8
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Advice on Wheels, Please

The great information on this forum has helped me narrow things down quite a bit from a technical perspective, and I'm now just looking for some practical advice on new summer wheels.

I recently bought a 2005 325Ci (base/non-sport; 100% stock) for my son. Daily driver, no track or autocross. We want to use his stock 16" wheels for winter and get new summer wheels and tires. Our two favorite wheels are CSL and Style 135. In either case, they'd be reps. My questions are:
  1. 17" vs. 18" - To me, main factors here are weight, cost and looks. At 184hp/175 lb ft, I don't want to kill what "pep" the car has. Tires for 17" are approx. $200 less expensive than for 18", but the only CSL reps I've found in 17" are the Apex Arc-8 (17.2 lbs), which are approx. $400 more expensive than some of the 18" wheels we're looking at (Alzor, VMR and Umnitza, which appear to range from 24 to 26 lbs, +/-). Is it worth paying a net $200 more for 17" to save on the weight? Is one size going to look meaningfully better than the other?

  2. Staggered vs. Square - I understand that staggered promotes understeer, but I'm wondering if that might be a good thing in my case. In other words, for purposes of safety of a young driver, would it be beneficial to go with staggered/induced understeer, even though I'd be sacrificing some performance for those times when the car is pushed a little? On the other hand, if understeer is already dialed in with the stock square setup, maybe going staggered might induce "too much" understeer??? The "other" downsides of staggered would be the small additional weight and tires would cost a bit more and couldn't be rotated at all. Not really concerned with looks on this issue.

Please let me know your thoughts on the above, and thanks in advance for your advice!
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Old 06-24-2014, 02:13 PM   #2
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As far as sizing goes, I've personally run a variety of wheels that have ranged in weight, and for everyday driving I didn't notice much of a difference. I don't drive my car hard enough for it to honestly be noticeable. I would say the same thing about staggered vs. square. Personally I prefer square fitments though, since you can rotate your tires side to side, front to back, etc.
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Old 06-24-2014, 02:36 PM   #3
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I agree with Kevin.
We run a variety of wheels on all our cars from staggered to non-staggered. The benefits of staggered is an aggressive looking stance and you can usually run a wider wheel in back with meatier tires that you can't run in the front. But rotation and balancing is a difficult task with staggered.

Often for the E46s, we recommend a full square setup at 8.0, 8.5, or 9.0 depending on your car and wheel type.

18s are the defacto standard with tires of all sorts of styles, compounds, and price ranges.

We also offer a wheel tire package. Give us a call if you want more advice/support/info.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:03 AM   #4
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Thanks, guys- I appreciate your insight.

Any thoughts from any non-retailers? (No offense Kevin and Umnitza- again, thank you for your replies). I know there are a lot of smart and experienced people on here!
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:39 AM   #5
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i would say go with square 18s. talking with kevin on here and others, im going to be putting mine on square 19s at some point. whats the point of upgrading 16s to 17s?
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:46 PM   #6
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i would say go with square 18s. talking with kevin on here and others, im going to be putting mine on square 19s at some point. whats the point of upgrading 16s to 17s?

Thanks, heavyweight. 17" provides a lot more tire options vs 16"; and I'm considering stopping at 17" only because of the reasons noted above (primarily, better performance due to less weight).


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Old 06-25-2014, 02:37 PM   #7
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17" wheels in a square setup would be my vote. Lower cost, better equipped to handle rougher roads and you can do a full rotation to extend tire life.
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Old 06-26-2014, 01:23 PM   #8
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Thanks all. I'd like to go 18 and now strongly leaning toward square, but will a 35+ weight difference (approx. 9+ per corner) noticeably affect spirited day-to-day driving performance? If I were dealing with 300+ hp I probably wouldn't be too nervous, but I don't want to turn the 325 into a dog by going with 18s.
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Old 06-26-2014, 01:30 PM   #9
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if you go with 235/40s all around, you'll feel better overall handling and performance losses will be pretty negligible.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:35 PM   #10
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if you go with 235/40s all around, you'll feel better overall handling and performance losses will be pretty negligible.
Thanks. I presume those would be on 18's, correct?
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PK8 View Post
Thanks all. I'd like to go 18 and now strongly leaning toward square, but will a 35+ weight difference (approx. 9+ per corner) noticeably affect spirited day-to-day driving performance? If I were dealing with 300+ hp I probably wouldn't be too nervous, but I don't want to turn the 325 into a dog by going with 18s.
Like I said, I've run a wide variety of setups for both wheels and with tires, having 18s as well as 19s, having wheels weigh between 20-27 pounds, and tires ranging in width and profile. For everyday driving it really wasn't noticeable at all. 18s are not too large for the car, and if you go with a 235/40/18 or something along those lines, you'll be just fine.
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:24 PM   #12
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I ran 235/40/17 squared on my car four the first four years of ownership and was very happy. Last December, I found a great deal on a staggered set of Style 197's and ran Pirelli's, 235/40/18 up front and 255/35/18 on the back. After six months, I do not see myself going back in size or to square. I feel this setup is more responsive, fun and esthetically pleasing. Whatever way to go, be sure to buy quality or you may just ask for problems.
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Thanks. I presume those would be on 18's, correct?
yes, that's my recommendation based on your requirements.
We can also provide you wheel and tire packages but we find that it's better to get tires for the same prices locally because they offer better local warranty, rotation services, and balancing that they usually throw in for the life of the tires.

Of course, it's convenient to get wheels and tires together and "slap them on" but sometimes the early convenience isn't as great when you have a road hazard issue or 6 months later a wheel weight comes off and you have to pay someone to rebalance.
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:38 PM   #14
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Thanks, all. Leaning now toward 18 square.
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Old 06-30-2014, 12:08 PM   #15
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Old 07-15-2014, 03:13 PM   #16
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17" wheels in a square setup would be my vote. Lower cost, better equipped to handle rougher roads and you can do a full rotation to extend tire life.
Agreed.

One other point: 18-inch wheels are more prone to curb rash than 17s and no matter how careful he is, he'll whack a curb or two while trying to parallel park.
And with 17s, he's less likely to bend a rim if he's surprised by a pothole.

As to the effect of wheel weight/stagger on handling, let's put this in perspective.
I've got a 17 year old son and I just bought a 325 with a 5 speed.
For me.
The car is plenty "peppy" and that's one of the nice things about it: the high "chassis/horsepower ratio" that's likely to keep him (or anyone) out of trouble.

In general, the stock 3 series were designed around square setups and handle great. The m3s and ZHPs have some extra horsepower and quite frankly, the staggered setup was an easy way for BMW to visually differentiate a higher end model with minimal expense.

I'd say go with the square 17s with a moderately priced all-seasony type tire. If potholes and curbs aren't an issue, then have at it with the 18s but still in a square setup.

Take him to Tire Rack's Street Survival course.

And then make him detail whatever you're driving--M5?--and mow the lawn while he's at it.

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Old 07-16-2014, 11:35 AM   #17
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Agreed.

One other point: 18-inch wheels are more prone to curb rash than 17s and no matter how careful he is, he'll whack a curb or two while trying to parallel park.
And with 17s, he's less likely to bend a rim if he's surprised by a pothole.

As to the effect of wheel weight/stagger on handling, let's put this in perspective.
I've got a 17 year old son and I just bought a 325 with a 5 speed.
For me.
The car is plenty "peppy" and that's one of the nice things about it: the high "chassis/horsepower ratio" that's likely to keep him (or anyone) out of trouble.

In general, the stock 3 series were designed around square setups and handle great. The m3s and ZHPs have some extra horsepower and quite frankly, the staggered setup was an easy way for BMW to visually differentiate a higher end model with minimal expense.

I'd say go with the square 17s with a moderately priced all-seasony type tire. If potholes and curbs aren't an issue, then have at it with the 18s but still in a square setup.

Take him to Tire Rack's Street Survival course.

And then make him detail whatever you're driving--M5?--and mow the lawn while he's at it.
Thanks for the additional advice! I'm sold on going square, and leaning toward 18s since the 18 setup is actually cheaper than the 17 setup I'm looking at (CSL reps), and I think overall the 18s will look a bit better. We get some potholes, but not too bad (and I've never had a pothole issue with 18s or 19s).

As for the detailing and mowing- he is (finally) mowing the lawn on a regular basis. However, I don't quite yet trust him to detail/wash my M5.
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