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Best Plus-Size Wheels For A 7Th-Gen Corolla?

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Okay, so I was browsing the TireRack and DIscount Tire Direct the other day and saw a bunch of wheels that looked good on my car. But all of the different wheels ranged from the stock size of 14" all the way up to 18". default_blink My question is,

1) What is the best size of rims to go with as far as (firstly) maximizing roadholding ability and (secondly) looking good?

2) What kind of offset is needed with the rims that are the best choice?

So far my top pick as far as looks and value was the 16" MB Wheels Weapon in gunmetal finish. (My car is a very dark shade of green pearl)

Thanks in advance!

Offsets for the 7th gen will depend on the suspension that is on the car now or plan to run in the future. Depending on the components, that could greatly influence the clearance you need on the wheels.

That said, you can run up to a 205 width tire, from 14"-18" with an offset of 38mm - 45mm on a 4-100 bolt pattern. Center bore of 54.1mm (if the aftermarket is too large, you'll need hubcentric mounting rings for fitment - those will come with the wheels if you buy them from Tirerack).

On my 8th gen Corolla, which suspension wise and car's dimensions, is very similar to the 7th gen Corolla - I ran both 14" OEM wheel size and tires (14"x5.5" - 185/65R14), a 16"x7" wheel (205/45R16). and "Plus Zero" 14" wheels that I have on currently (14"x6" - 195/60R14).

What is the best for road-handling? That is a pretty loaded question. Reason - what I've found that the inherent "stickness" of the tire, how well it grips the road is more a function of tire design and compound than wheel size.

Granted, a larger wheel will automatically decrease the sidewall height to maintain the same overall diameter (The "PLUS" concept). Along with the decreased sidewall, you'd generally pick up a wider sectional tread width as well. Together, they will increase the width of contact patch from side to side (as well as shorten it, fore and aft). Shorter sidewall height would usually influence transient response, ie. the tire carcass doesn't distort as much as you saw at the wheel with quick back to back steering inputs. The wider traction patch also tends to help with corning traction - though straight line traction is about the same. Sounds like increasing the wheel size is a win all-around, but you can stay in the OEM size (14"), increase the sectional width and upgrade to a better tire and have 90%-95% of the absolute handling of the larger tire. You'd actually have more to gain sticking with a smaller wheel and tire, performance wise - tires and wheels are generally cheaper and lighter, no issue with clearances even with performance suspensions, and rugged durability - not likely to bent a wheel as easily as you could with thinner sidewalls.

The only thing that 14" wheels would lose is in the looks. Larger wheels just look better on the car, so as a visual statement, can't beat larger wheels - even though that statement might be "performance" oriented, which ironically, larger wheels tends not to help.

If I had to compromise - I'd go with a 16" wheel and tire combo. Relatively cheap and light, 45-series tires don't offer much protection, so you'd have to be wary of potholes and speed bumps. The only thing is the suspension. Going with larger wheels diameters tend to make the gap between the fender and the top of the wheel look bigger than it actually is. To make the wheels look "good" on the car, most have to install performance lowering springs which closes the gap - but also tends to cause clearance issues. Most end up "rolling" the fender lip and cutting it back to make more room for the wheel.

Choice is your - looks or performance. For me - the PLUS 0 setup (same diameter wheel, just wider) of a 14" light alloys wheels and 195/60R14 tire - gave me more than enough performance on the road. Even during spirited driving, these wheel and tire setup handled just as good as the wider wheels, but added the benefit of better acceleration and braking, due to reduced unsprung mass in the corners. Couple of pounds in each corner doesn't sound like much, but you can definitely see and feel the difference on the road.

Thanks a lot, fish! Very informative post. default_smile Naturally, I want my car to look a little bit better with new wheels, but I really wanted to fix the "squishy" feeling on turn-in I currently get with the stock wheel and tire sizes. Would simply installing a lighter, more performance-oriented wheel/tire combo in the OEM sizes fix this, or would the thinner sidewalls of a 15" or 16" tire be a better bet? Another issue is finding a good summer tire for 14" wheels and tires. They're hard to come by!

I recently drove my girlfriend's Scion xA, which came with 17" wheels from the factory. I like the look of them, and they fit on my car because they're plus-sized to the same dimensions as the Corolla, but her tires fail a LOT. She's blown four separate tires since I've been dating her, and bent one rim so much that it cracked and had to be replaced. ($200!) Needless to say, I don't want any of those problems, but I do want the grip that her tires provide.

As a side note, I think the Michelin Harmony may be the least sport-oriented tire I have ever driven on. With a sharp twitch of the wheel, you get a quesy-feeling moment where nothing happens, then the tires catch up to themselves. It's really disorienting, and I've driven the Harmony on a bunch of different cars - and every one of them did the same thing, to more or less extent. They are quiet though...

What suspension are you running now or plan to run? Most of that "squishiness" might be in the suspension. Might consider performance springs and struts - maybe a good strut tower brace (sharpens the steering) - springs do not have to be extreme. I'm running TRD springs on my 8th gen - TRD doesn't make them anymore, but you can still by them from the manufacturer that made them for TRD - EiBach.

A shorter sidewall will help, but more of a Band-Aid fix, as the original issue was not resolved. Yeah, I agree, with automakers running with larger and larger wheels as OEM, harder to find quality tires in the smaller sizes. I'm running Yokohama AVID H4S in the 195/60R14 size - a performance all-season - but looks like Yokohama doesn't stock that size any more. They still make Yokohama ES100 in that 14" size, used to run those on my 16" wheel setup, and they were a very progressive tire (very predictable, nothing scary at the limit) - with good grip, great hydroplane resistance, no tramlining tendancies, and a relatively smooth and quiet ride.

I've also be looking at the Bridgestone Potenza RE960A2 Pole Position tires as a possible replacement, I haven't decided yet - but will post back what I've picked and a short review. Bridgestones that I've had in the past were great tires, but were relatively "thin" in construction, very easy to run over some unavoidable road hazard and "pinched" the tires between the ground and wheel - telltale sidewall "mumps" form and you have to scrap the tire.

Totally agree with the Michelin Harmony tires - makes the road feel like it was covered with grease. Same characteristics would apply to most touring tires, great for relaxed driving and smooth, quiet ride - but I would trade all that for something that was more predictable and had greater traction capabilities.

Sounds like going up to a 15" wheel should prove to be the sweet spot for your application. Wants the benefits of a better looking wheel, available pool of tires, and performance to back it up. That will drop the sidewall height to a 55 or 50 series, depending on tire choices (195/55-15 or 205/50-15). Should be more than enough "meat" there to protect against all but the most aggressive road hazards.

Well right now I have a totally stock suspension with the exception of a Megan Racing strut tower brace (major improvement!), but I have big plans for this car - my intention is to build a Toyota Corolla equivalent of a Honda Civic Si, except better. default_smile I want to build a car that spanks the average modded Honda and still manages to retain stock reliability, even on occasional track usage or bombing down a mountain road. Yeah, I know its a pretty high goal. Haha.

I want to start by lowering the suspension by whatever means necessary (lowering springs and sport shocks, coilovers, etc.) to give the car less body roll and higher grip, and bolting on stickier tires mounted on better looking and preferrably lighter rims. Unforturnately, money is tight, and I'll have to save up for whatever I buy... What suspension would you recommend? Going full-out for adjustable coilovers, or sticking with lowering springs and sport shocks?

And thanks for the tire info! I've found a good deal on the same rims in a 15" size. Plus the tires are cheaper. Much appreciated!

If you want to maintain that stock reliability and this car will be your daily driver - I'd stick with some decent struts and a quality performance lower spring. As long as you don't drop it more than 1.7"-2", you generally won't have to mess too much with the camber settings.

Something like Eibach ProKit, Whiteline Control, H&R Sport, etc. coupled with some Tokico HP or KYB GR-2, if you want a softer but firmer ride or jump up to the next level of KYB AGX, Tokico Illumina, or even Koni Yellows as you are now up there, price wise. Best part of going with this starting point, is you can add piece-meal, as funds become available and see and feel those cumulative gains on the handling of the car.

Can't beat the adjustability of a coil-over setup - but given cost and what you can do, you'll end up having to spend more money up front to reap the benefits of such a setup. There you have to go spend $$$ to get something decent. KIC, Cusco, KW, exc. - but we are talking $1500-$2000 to start, just for the coil overs. Doesn't cover any other chassis stiffening programs and many are designed for track use from the start. This can equal a punishing ride on the street. Some people don't mind it, some do can't stand it. For a daily driver, I'd think about cost/benefit ratio here.

To get a Corolla to handle as well as a Civic, is a tall order, but totally doable. Toyota sandbag the Corolla right from the start - it is heavier and larger than the Civic, and has a suspension tuned more for comfort than performance. But because of that, any modifications that you do the car will almost be immediately realized. Lightweight alloy wheels, sticker tires, a solid performance brake pad (Porterfield, Hawk, Carbotech, etc.), just lowering springs and appropriately matched struts, and you have a totally different feeling car. Strut tower braces, rear tie bars, fender and trunk bracings all have a cumulative affect. Add in sway-bars and poly bushings - be tough to get any better. Coil-overs at this point will only offer better adjustability (ride height, bounce/rebound, corner balancing, etc.) - not really add to the overall handing of the car. Also at this point, won't gain too much without seriously modifying the chassis and unit-body (gusseting corners, adding a safety cage, stripping excess weight, skip welding all joints, etc.)

Best bang for the buck (rolling and unsprung aspects of the car):

- tires and wheels (affects all aspects of the car's dynamics - braking, acceleration, cornering, control, etc. - balance size with capability, tune to your tastes)

- performance brake pads (can't add capability to the car without some way to scrub off that speed - personally like Hawk HPS, rotor friendly, all temperature street compound, stronger initial bite, good for "spirited" street driving).

- lowering springs / sport struts (brakes and tires complement this mod - you can brake shorter and with control, as the body don't dive as much, doesn't squat as much on acceleration)

Later you can add better sway bars, chassis bolt-on stiffeners, poly bushing inserts, etc. Add to that, some sort of weight removal scheme - lightweight wheels and tires, jettison anything that is not needed in the car, like a whole toolbox in the trunk or 2 ton subwoofers. Total investment at this point is probably set you back $1500-$2000, depending on what sort of prices you can get. Lot of money, but the results will be quite incredible, considering the class of the car. As mentioned above, this is the starting point for better coil-overs, which will not be able to beat the performance of the built up car at this point, if you just installed coil-overs themselves.

Engine wise, totally different story - Toyota ECMs are notoriously hard to crack and the engines are fairly optimized from the manufacturer. Typical I/E/H Bolt-ons will help some, but don't expect the same sort of gains that you will get from suspension/tire/wheel/brake mods. Have to spend some serious coin here to get some decent numbers here - forced induction, spray, engine swap, etc. But I digress.

Once again, thanks so much for the info. Spending between $1500 to $2000 is completely doable over a period of time for me. It's money well spent if it gives the Corolla some true handling capabilities - that's my biggest complaint about Corollas. They just aren't any fun from a performance standpoint without mods... When will Toyota make a Corolla GT-S or XRS again?? *Sigh.*

Anyways, suspension is my number one priority right now. Hopefully once I find a better job a few years down the road, I'll be able to afford a 4A-GE / 5-speed swap, which would complete my car if I had all the suspension components sorted out. Thanks once more! I'll be looking for good deals on springs and shocks for the next year or so... Lemme know if any good deals pop up. Thanks again!

Ok time for new questions! I think I may have found a good suspension package to start saving up for - Eibach Sportline lowering springs with Koni yellow sport shocks. Does that sound like a promising set up?

More importantly, will it fit with the aftermarket wheels and tires I plan to install? And what kind of work is involved with installing these two items together - will they fit with each other like the factory strut assembly, or will I have to use some factory or custom parts to get them mounted? The reason I ask is because I work at a Ford dealership, so I have access to some pretty good tools like spring compressors, alignment machines, etc. and I could most likely do this myself if it isn't too much of a custom job.

Thanks in advance!

I think I may have found a good suspension package to start saving up for - Eibach Sportline lowering springs with Koni yellow sport shocks. Does that sound like a promising set up?

That is a good combo. I've autocrossed several cars on Tein or Eibach lowering springs and Koni Yellow shocks (none were Corollas). In my opinion, they are right at the sweet spot of cost vs. performance. True, they're not top of the line double/triple/quadruple adjustable coilovers, but you'd have to pay significantly more for a little additional performance. As with any adjustable suspension components-- if you're looking to maximize your setup, the learning curve can be frustratingly steep. Just be careful to use settings that would be safe on the street. If you're looking for something sporty and generally fun to drive, you have the right idea. Springs, shocks, wheels and tires (maybe add sway bar(s)) are a great start. After that, if you want more performance you can continue adding items such as camber bolts/plates, chassis braces, brakes as you have the money to spend. Keep in mind that suspensions, like engines, can be a bottomless pit if you want to pursue extremes.

Much appreciated, Dan. I am also looking at purchasing a Whiteline 19mm sway bar, and a front sway bar from somewhere else (why do companies make rear sway bars but not front ones for the 7th gen??) The only other front sway bar I have ever seen produced for these cars is one that TRD Japan discontinued. How on earth would I get my hands on such a part?

Later on, I'd like to go with some of Ultra Racing's products, but I haven't decided on which ones. Any tips?

^^^ Likely due to the market demands for it. FWD platform tends to gravitate to excessive understeer (push) when driven hard into a corner. Stiffening the rear of the car will help the rear of the car more likely to rotate and give you more neutral handling.

As for discontinued parts - eBay, Craigslist, etc. Sometimes they come up - sometimes you can get lucky and find a dealership with NOS (New Old Stock) parts. Doesn't always happen, but anything is possible. Even manufacturers like Whiteline, UltraRacing, etc. could take them some time to get you the part. Verify that they have it in stock before you sink any money into them. The quality is good, but I've heard horror stories of people having to wait months for the part to be delivered. Many times, they'll fill an order but not ship until XX number of orders have been accepted. Then they can turn that larger order over to manufacturing to build the parts.

As mentioned by Dan_H - go piece-meal, try the tires/wheels + springs and struts first. Give them a go and see how they fit. If you need so more control, maybe reduce some understeer - then look to a rear sway bar upgrade. Upgrade the brakes. Once you get used to it, then start going with chassis stiffeners, adjustable suspension setups, etc. If you go all out initially, you might not like what you've turned the car into. These simple modifications will have a markedly profound change on the way the car rides. Since the Corolla is so "soft" to being with, even a modest spring/strut upgrade will feel dramatically different.

Cars that are already tuned toward performance are much harder to tune/setup. Good examples are Honda S2000, Mazda Miata MX-5, and Volkswagon GTI - street cars with great handling from the start. But to extract more performance from their already high level, you'll have to invest a huge amount of money to even have a chance at improving performance. More often than not, unresearched or not carefully chosen modifications here would equal disastrous handling behavior. Basically it is much easier to screw up a car that is already setup decently vs. a car that is essentially a blank slate (Corolla).

Ok, got it! I should have thought about FWD cars having understeer from the start, of course tightening the back end would help rotate the rear end a little... Duh, me!

I'm gonna take all of you guys' advice and go one step at a time, as that's about all I can afford anyway. Haha. One more question though - I seemingly never run out of them - on this website, www.onthelow.net/2010/08/19/the-baddest-ae101-corolla-this-side-of-the-pacific/ , this guy has installed AE111 Levin rear brakes in place of the factory drums. That is something that I would love to do, as the rear brakes are rather underpowered. Of course Toyota designed the fronts to have more power and lock up first (no ABS on my car, early production '96) for safety reasons, but man I have never locked up the rear brakes at all, even under extreme braking! But I digress... Bottom line, what would it cost to do this, how available are the parts for it, and how would I get ahold of them?

And no, I don't want my car to end up like the one on the aformentioned website... What I do want is a slightly different setup of that guy's engine, transmission, and brakes. I do admire the diligence and time it took to build up a Corolla like that though! And thanks in advance.

Nice Corolla in that link - guys got some pretty nice, hard to find parts in there. Engine, drivetrain, and suspension mods are right on the money - all good stuff, though I doubt that rear diffuser is doing much other than for show (hard to tell from the pic, have to see if he boxed in the bottom of the car). Cage is all show, same with the interior - though clean compared to other modded cars that I've seen.

As for installing rear disc in place of the rear drums - totally doable. Since the brakes already exist on the similar chassis as your own vehicle (AE101 and AE111 are nearly identical), it would be only a matter of finding the donor vehicle and getting a hold of the parts. I've seen prices go anywhere from $600 to over a grand for clean parts with all the cabling, hoses, decent rotors, etc. Other that needed some work - can run as low as $300-$350, but you'll have to generally special order the rear discs and pads, as they are not always stocked everywhere.

There is some concern about making sure the brake balance is set correctly, front and rear. As you do not want to the rears to overpower the fronts. Some who have done this swap have swapped out their brake proportioning valve and master cylinder from the disc equipped car to theirs - others have just swapped the rear brakes and retained all their original hardware. Doesn't seem to be a clear consensus on this. Some have purported the easy of maintenance of rear disc brakes vs drums - which is true of the main friction material. But most forget that OEM style rear disc have a mini drum integrated into the rotors for the parking brake function. Though not a normal wear item, in some "creative" drive situations, you'll wipe that thin friction material out in a very short time.

My opinion, beef-up the brakes you have with better pads. It is preferable to have the fronts lock up before the rears, as in a corner, you'll end up sliding in a straight line. If the rears locked up first, more often than not, that back end will come swinging around and you'll have to feverishly work to straighten out the car. In a FWD car, it is all about managing that understeer - all about weight transfer. If you can drive quickly in a FWD car, step out and jump into a neutral handling RWD car - you can easily be one of the smoothest, fastest driver's on the course.

On my own 2002 - I've been able to get the rears to do a little more work (disc/drum) - but adjusting them a bit tighter and making sure that I use my parking brake all the time (parking brake use help adjust the rear shoes). In no way do I feel the brakes are underpowered, after upgrading to Brembo blanks and Hawk pads - I can very accurately control when and where the car will stop.