If you’ve been to any car event or show, you’ve probably seen stretched tires and wondered if it was a good idea for your vehicle. This unique look is one that’s becoming more desired, but is it a safe option?
In this article, I look at the meaning of stretched tires and show you whether this is a safe practice. I also evaluate the pros and cons of stretching your tires, so you can decide if it’s right for your vehicle.
What Are Stretched Tires?
A stretched tire is one that contains a smaller width than what the wheel requires. This smaller tire is mounted on the standard wheel, leaving an appearance where the sidewall stretches over the edge. This practice creates a show-worthy look that accents the rim more than the tire.
With the stretched tire, you notice a new stance of the vehicle. It also allows for more camber because the fender sits on the wheel’s lip.
Are Stretched Tires Safe?
It should alarm you when you think about stretching the tire rubber over a surface that’s too wide. You know that the tire tread is meant to provide maximum safety and protection on the road, so it would cause you to wonder if this is all compromised when the rubber is stretched. The truth is, there are ways to perform tire stretching with some degree of safety, depending on how far you choose to go.
On the other hand, stretched tires are more likely to blow out than regular tires. You are also putting yourself at risk of deflating the tires or damaging the wheels that have less protection. When the tire isn’t seated properly on the bead, the seal is compromised. Driving on this tire and hitting an obstacle, such as a pothole, could lead to disastrous consequences.
Tire stretching also reduces the durability and longevity of the rubber. As you drive on the tire, the tread wear will become uneven, further putting you at risk. For these reasons, it’s never recommended to stretch your tires, but I still understand why you might want to do it.
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Pros of Stretched Tires
1. Upgraded Appearance
If for nothing else, people will stretch tires just for appearance alone. After all, it’s hard to argue with the upgraded look it provides.
Drivers spending time showing their car off will desire this appearance, further accenting the wheels. It’s a mesmerizing look.
2. Sidewall Control
There are conflicting reports on this point. However, the majority of proponents of stretching tires will argue that there’s more control over the sidewall.
Because the sidewall can be trimmed to fit a larger wheel, there could be more control. However, this isn’t normally a top reason to choose stretched tires for your vehicle. Instead, it might be considered an added benefit.
3. Ability to Use Cheaper Tires
If you are driving with the right tire size, you need a bigger tire. This combination requires more money, as tire prices generally increase with size.
However, if you pick a smaller tire, you could save money on the purchase. It’s often much cheaper to buy a smaller tire and stretch it than to purchase the size that fits perfectly.
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Cons of Stretched Tires
1. Reduced Safety
On many levels, your safety could be risked by stretching the tires. To start, if the seal isn’t just right, the tire could pop off of the rim.
The grip on the road is also compromised. Without a solid grip, the car might not have as much control when road surfaces become slippery.
2. Increased Risk of Damage
When you stretch the tire, the rim has more space exposed. With an extra rim surface, there’s more to get damaged, especially when you rub against a curb.
If you’ve spent a lot of money on your car rims, you want as much protection as possible. It’s discouraging to spend a bunch of time and cash on the sleek look only to mess up the rims and need replacement.
3. Require Professional Installation
Unless you have stretched tires before, you might not know how to handle the installation. In most cases, it might be better to have a professional handle the installation.
However, it’s hard to find a tire guy that’s willing to stretch them. Because of the lack of safety, you will have to find a particular person willing to help you. This professional installation might add a lot to the cost that you aren’t ready to handle.
Should You Stretch Your Car Tires?
There’s a time and place when stretching the car tires might make sense, but it’s not for everyone. For this reason, you want to carefully consider what you are doing before you make any major changes. Let’s evaluate the two options and we will give you a few criteria to help you decide what to do with your vehicle.
The biggest reason to stretch your tires is if you are looking to create a show car. If you hope to show off the sleek wheels on your car, stretching is an option. With the right configuration and setup, you can create a unique fitment that turns heads.
On the other hand, you don’t want to stretch the tires if your car is a regular driver. This setup will hurt your safety and traction, so it’s not wise for your daily commuter. You also don’t want to do it if you plan to drive at any high-performance level. It’s also not smart if you are going to be on harsh roads, where damage is more likely.
How to Stretch a Tire
I am not telling you it’s good to stretch a tire, nor am I advocating it. I am only providing basic instructions for you as an educational guide. If you plan to stretch your tires, it’s best to visit with a professional for more help instead.
- Lay the rim and tire flat.
- With soap and water, apply your solution to the tire bead. You can spray it on or use a paintbrush. With this mixture, the tire is easier to work with because there’s reduced friction.
- Use a tire spoon to move the bead over the rim. If you don’t have a tire spoon, you might be able to use a flathead screwdriver that’s long, but you want to use caution so that damage doesn’t occur.
- Spray brake cleaner around the inner tire.
- Connect your air compressor to the tire.
- Ignite the brake cleaner that was applied to the inner tire.
- While the tire is beaded, use the correct PSI to compress the tire.
Clearly, some of these steps are dangerous. You must use caution and take every precaution necessary if you plan to walk through this process on your own.
Stretched Tire FAQs
Are stretched tires legal?
Stretched tires aren’t illegal per se, but it’s in a gray area and if it’s not considered safe for the road due to too much stretching, you could get into trouble. You could also potentially find yourself in trouble with your insurance company if your car has stretched tires and you get into an accident.
Can you drive fast with stretched tires?
Driving very fast with stretched tires is not safe and can cause problems. However, it depends on how much stretch your tires have and which tire brand you use. The problem with stretched tires is that you run the risk of blowing out the tire at higher speeds, which can be very dangerous.
How wide can you stretch a tire?
How much you can stretch your tires is entirely up to your preference and the size of your rims. The height of the sidewall is a factor that determines how much you will be able to stretch the tires. Remember that the more you stretch the tires, the more dangerous it will be on the road.
Are stretched tires safe?
Generally, stretched tires are not considered safe and are not recommended for use. However, there is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, such as the weight of the vehicle, the amount of stretch, and the quality of the tires. The more you stretch the tires, the more dangerous it becomes on the road.
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