Wheels and Tire Stretching


close up view of a vehicle's stretched tire

Source/Jonathan Leung/Flickr

Few aftermarket mods get as much love or as much flak as stretched tires. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.

What is tire stretching?

First, if you’re not familiar with tire stretching, it’s essentially installing a tire on a wheel size that’s larger than what’s specified for the tire, causing the tire to have to stretch to fit the wheels. A lot of online forums give credit to the VW crowd for starting the trend.

The cons of stretching tires

Here are some considerations that fall on the “minus” side of the equation. Tire stretching probably isn’t good for your tires’ longevity. Stretching places undue stress on the tire sidewall and bead and can cause premature and irregular tire tread wear, particularly if you have an aggressive camber setup. Plus, the tire companies don’t like it.

“We follow the RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association) guideline, beginning on page 42, under Tire Rim/Wheel Selection,” explains Jim Davis, PR Manager, North America, for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. “If it doesn’t fit in the rim width range that is published in the tire data books, then we don’t approve.”

The pros of stretching tires

Now the pluses. Stretched tires look cool and draw added attention to the wheels.

Performance vs. appearance

Wheels are undoubtedly an important part of the appearance equation, but also play an important role in performance, specifically when it comes to weight. Here are some thoughts on wheels from Kevin Wells, Technical Manager for FORMULA DRIFT.

“Wheel weights matter to our drivers,” Wells explains. “Less rotating weight is preferred, especially in drifting. The wheel speed changes very rapidly–100 mph to 0 mph (ebrake) to 100 mph. Excessive rotational weight places additional stress on the drivetrain and the slower this reaction takes place, not to mention suspension setups from excessive wheel weight.

“Other considerations when it comes to wheels are sizing, fitment, and sponsors,” he adds. “You will see drivers use spacers, front and rear, to get available sizes with the incorrect offset to suit their needs. And as for sponsors, free wheels are good wheels unless you can afford to buy something better!”

So what’s it going to be–looks, performance, or both? Leave us a comment and tell us about your opinion on and experience with stretched tires.


  1. I sold tires for many years. All those letters and numbers from the DOT mean something. Changing from OEM tires changes everything, from handling, steering, control when breaking. It also affects wear on other parts of the vehicle as well. I would never recommend stretching a tire. Most tire places will refuse to mount them on a car, due to liability issues. It changes everything about ride control. I would also add that it is unsafe to do this.

  2. John Marry says:

    The best tires with regards to stretch are:

    toyo t1-s
    dunlop sp9000
    dunlop sp8080e
    falken fk451

    custom wheels and tires

  3. Rudy Cabrera says:

    Can my tires go back to normal size after I stretched them?

  4. Billy ricehater says:

    These losers that stretch their tires will argue that it is ok till the end of time. They don’t care about safety but they will when they slam into me and I best the crap out of them till the cops come!

  5. To each his own regarding the looks of a stretched tire and stance imo. The main issue I have is one of safety and being on the road with risky fitments..

    There is a very simple way to resolve all of this debate. Manufacturers should make an “enthusiast/tuner” line of tire MADE to be stretched. Obviously theres a HUGE market out there for this or it wouldn’t be chapping so many asses.

    The stretchable tires might be incredibly harsh from stiffer sidewalls and a touch heavier from beefier beads but at least everyone wins then. The stretchers can stuff wide rims under thier fenders and not be a safety risk. The only issue then is a matter of style preference and not potential involuntary homicide. Ice cream for everybody!

  6. it seems as of late there is a metric assload of hate directed towards those of us who run stretch or about stretch in general. thought i would throw this up to educate or help out those of you with questions.

    what is stretch?
    – “stretch” refers to stretching a narrower tire over a wider wheel, the sidewalls stretch from the lip to the tread
    why do stretched tires?
    – well the whole thing started in germany/belgium, local laws required that the tire tread be within the fender line. well that doesnt allow one to run wider or lower offset wheels, so they put narrower tires on the wheel to maintain legality
    – when you would like to run really wide or low offset wheels and keep the tire tread at the fender
    – when you would like to go really low and not rub
    isnt this unsafe?
    – there hasnt been any soild evidence that running a stretched tire is any more dangerous than a regular tire. 
    where can i get tires stretched?
    -any reputable wheel/tire shop should be able to do it. i know when i did a 215-45 kumho on a 8.5″ wheel, it took one shop 90lbs to pop the bead. getting a 225-45 on a 9 and a 245-40 on a 10.5 took another shop 50 lbs
    can’t you afford the right tire size?
    – the tire that stretch the most tend to be at the top of the price list, so it isnt an issue
    what tires stretch best?
    – from what i have seen, the best tires with regards to stretch are:
    toyo t1-s
    dunlop sp9000
    dunlop sp8080e
    falken fk451
    im sure there are more, but look for a tire with a rounded shoulder and a lip protector, they tend to give the “desirable” look

    but staggered wheels are stupid on fwd cars, arent you worried about handling?
    – its all about looks, you wont see anyone with low offset deep dish wheels flopping around the autox course.
    what size/offset wheels are the best for a staggered look
    – its all about personal preference. me, i have 17x9et26 and 17×10.5et26 and i couldnt ask for a better setup. some may not like the look but thats why people build their cars for themselves
    arent you worried about curbing a wheel?
    – take a look in the classifieds and count the number of wheels on regular tires compared to those on stretched tires with damage. 

    Copied and pasted from vwvortex.com forum 10 years before this article.

    Quote, originally posted by 02blkgtivr6 »what if you get a puncture in the tire from a nail and you’re going 65mph and the tire loses air rapidly, will it stay beaded (proper term?) as long as a regular sized tire would? do stretched tires need to have above a certain tire pressure to stay beaded?

    one thing about running stretched tires, the driver tends to be a bit more careful because of the cost of the wheels, i definately drive more alert with the tramonts than i do my stock wheels. 
    and as far as loss of pressure is concerned, i tested my wheels the other day after putting them on, i drove around one day (~60 miles mixed highway/city) and one tire was at 10psi, no visual or performance cues.
    the main reason for a tire popping a bead is sidewall flex, not internal pressure. like i said, it took ~90lbs to mount my one set, there is no way taht driving forces would add to exceed that pressure, let alone the 40lbs it took to do this set

    • Fuzzy Wombat says:

      Boss Ross. Thank you for your post.

      More informative than the article.

      Look, to each their own. I see more wrecks on Texas roads caused by reckless pickup and SUV drivers than by passenger cars (IMO the bigger vehicle tends to over compensate the effects of physics in the operators mind)

      I dont judge Harley tuners, pickup modders, or any other person’s hobby as long as you stay in your lane and share the road so I could give a rats….what anyone says about my stanced ride.

      Im cruisin low and slow (and generally stay out of the way if you are in more of a hurry than me).

      BRoss you hit it on the head. We mod for our enjoyment not anyone else’s.

      Hey its our hobby. It’s a free country. I don’t tell others what they should do or believe and do not presume to tell others what style they should have. Please respect others freedom to express their rides and style as they see fit.

  7. Say what you want, and bring on hate if you wish. Show me some facts about how unsafe it is and prove me wrong. So far with searching online, there’s nothing concrete that “proves” it is unsafe. If your running tires like these, your probably not driving like an ass. Your more worried about everyone else with normal oem specs trying to kill you on the road with their phones in hand, or refusing to use turn signals and side mirrors. And please, for the love of god, if you see a car that obviously the driver takes care of (even if you dont know what it is, or even care about) try not to ride their ass or get super close. Odds are, its their baby, and you will get the wrath of a parent scorn. Respect everyone on the road.

    • Jacky Chan says:

      It’s one thing to put wheels with stretched tires on at the drift track where the risk is limited to mainly yourself and other competitors.
      It’s another thing to drive around on public streets with mothers driving their kids to soccer practice with those things on.
      You and your friends being lucky enough to be incident free is not = to in dept safety testing. There is no shortage of horror stories if one wants to look. And of course the reaction will “well because it was’t mounted properly, or that particular install was bad etc etc…”
      Someone above mentioned that the tire companies should just make a tire meant to be stretched, one that will pass “official” safety tests for each country as well. Perhaps the reason no one has made one, is because stretched tires can’t pass “official” safety tests. If there was money to be made, don’t you think the corporatists would be all over it……who knows, maybe we will see a new stretchable branded tire soon… Vermin Supreme2016 Free Ponies for everyone!!!!!!!!!

      • Jacky Chan says:

        actually on second thought. The tire companies are actually incredibly happy you guys are wearing the tires out faster by stretching them…..keeps you buying more.

        • Yousa hater says:

          Hatin much? Lol. Calm down man. Noone is driving on public streets doing 100 trying to angle a corner either. Most of the time people that take the time to mod their cars like this are taking their time on the road to. If people would let go of all this hate and anger over shit that isnt that important humans might actually make some progress thats notable.. Smdh

  8. William says:

    IF stretches tires are dangerous they are no where near as dangerous as the countless other mods done to the car. Lowering a car without adjusting the camber back to spec reduces the cars braking performance dramatically. The front wheels do most of the breaking and when you have too much camber only a small amount of tire is touching the ground. When you slam on the brakes it will increase the front camber and reduce the rear camber compounding the issue even further. This isn’t something you can argue… the evidence is on your worn out tires. Because of the extreme cost of the tires and since you only use a bicycle tires width of it they don’t last very long and you never replace them because they cost too much… so your essentially always riding on worn out tires if not the belts.

    So I don’t care about stretched tires… in fact in some situations they could allow someone to run a safer camber without the tire hitting the fender. The problem is that no one I have seen can use that excuse because they all have uncorrected camber.

    I live in Chicago and the majority of stretchers have stock shocks and uncorrected camber these cars are accidents waiting to happen.

    If someone dies you can certainly be held liable.

    My friend had a modified car and he legally went through an intersection and a Jeep pulled out in front of him. His passenger and 2 people in the Jeep died. He was sued and lost his license for years because they said all the modifications on his car compounded into the death of those in the Jeep and the passenger in his car. They held the non original seats against him even though they where OEM from a different model car, they held the aftermarket lights and lowering against him saying it reduced visibility, the held the lowering and wheels against him saying it reduced braking distance.

    They where correct about everything but the seats and still even with OEM seats from another car of the same manufacturer he was held accountable for that change.

    Also they argued the lowering the car changes they way that crumple zones behave.

    This guy lost his fiance and has the guilt of a total of 3 deaths on his hands not to mention no license for several years and tons of fines and lawyers fees.

    He is lucky that the other driver had some culpability otherwise he would have seen jail time.

    • Furthermore,

      When you modify a car to increase performance without sacrificing any safety is one thing. For example stiffer shocks, slightly lowering the car (while keeping camber within spec), better tires, lighter wheels, engine modifications, better brakes, etc But anything that gains one advantage at the loss of another advantage or safety is unacceptable. All those mods above mean the car can do what it was meant to do but better without increasing risk in any area. Making a faster engine doesn’t inherently make the car more dangerous because you have to choose to use said power.

      Reducing a car braking ability from average to far below average from extreme camber is wreckless. Lowering a car so much that your bumper is no longer anywhere near where it needs to be to protect you and those in the other vehicle could end up causing a death.

      Putting cool wheels on your car because it looks nice is one thing…. but what most of these people around here are doing is something else entirely and then they don’t drive like it’s their bany, no suddenly cuting, sagging or at best replacing your coils and rolling around on worn out insides from too much camber seems to mean your a race car driver and can drive like a lunatic.

      It’s not cool, but sadly it’s like arguing that fixie bikes at a minimum need at least a front brake your not going to get through to these idiots and they are going to end up getting by a bus… only the difference is cars kill other people to.

  9. Tristan says:

    This all depends on how far you’re stretching. I run very expensive 225s on a 9″ wide wheel. At this stretch, with my tire quality, i’m getting a stiffer sidewall and lower profile tires and using the entire width of the tire. Nothing extreme, my car performs better for it. For many events, the rules may state you can only use 225 wide rubber, stretching is a great way to get a leg up on the competition.
    Now if I was running 195s and insane negative camber, I’d be asking for trouble. These cars are not safe. Performance is compromised, the tires can slip, and a number of issues arise. So stretching tires isn’t unsafe, if done in moderation.
    I speak from my experience and countless friends’.

  10. Brandon Willett says:

    It’s Called drive safely, most people who stretch tires on a highly modified vehicle including myself tend to obey laws at most times and not drive like a bat out of hell like the typical mother in a suburban. These cars are our children practically and if it’s legal why’s there all this hate. It’s not the people with stretched tires or any other modifications it’s the lack of attention by drivers. So yeah you can say it’s stupid when you have 35’s on a ford but at the end of the day you want to tell me that’s safe???

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