suziki swift: tires/rims

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Jul 6, 2005
Colorado, US
Few months ago, I picked up a 2001 swift(50k), with a minor dent and a missing mirror, for $2500. mostly for my girlfriend to have a car to drive.... The wheels on it, looks like stock, steel, maybe 13 inch? 14? small, very small and very thin. and the tires are what I call donuts on any other normal car. I plan to ride out these tires till winter season comes again... The wheels have some little dings in them, I want to replace em with some alloys anyhow. I was thinking 15 inch alloys. so far, even with the very thin tires on this thing, the handling really isn't all that bad. And the braking power more than satified my girl friend when she came from 35mph to a dead stop without any problems, to avoid a collision... with this in mind- would a wider tread pattern tire hender or help the overall handling of this car? I hate the way it looks with donuts all the way around... but it is a very small light weight car that could probably use a bycicle tire as a spare in a pinch, (hehe)... I was thinking, a wider tread tire would reduce the wear rate a little. and improve cornering. But- what about hydroplaning? seems on a light car, a wider tire would provide more "lift" when going through water. what about snow/ice? seems like a wider tire would have less weight per sq inch and not "grab" a slick surface as well. any thoughts? sugestions?
With regards to handling you can likely get better tires(performance or somewhat performance) in a larger size. Wet performance is also a function of the tire and even in a wide version they can be well designed to move water out of the way. However with regards to winter/ice traction your skinny rims/tires are superior and favored setup on larger cars for winter driving.
I think the stock size was 155/80/13. A step up on the same wheels would be 175/70/13 (This is what I would do). If you want better handling, 14” wheels and 185/60/14 tires are a good compromise…but might give you a gittery ride, especially if the shocks are tired. But then, could run the 155s in the winter and the 185s in the summer. If you want to go the 14” route, on the cheap, check some junkyards for wheels from a Suzuki Esteem or Swift GT/GTi. The later Esteem GLX came with a 195/50/15 (on Speedline wheels!), which would fit, bit the shorter sidewall would give a worse ride than the 14s.
I like Willy's suggestion - run 14s or 15s during the summer with performance tires and keep the 13s for winter driving, preferably with dedicated snow tires. That way you'll have the best of all worlds.
on a budget- and an attmpet to get decent tires I could use year round- I went with 175/70-13s, michelin destinies from discount tire. I ran these tires (in a different size) on an 88 honda accord I used to own, and liked them a lot for the money. The little 175/70-13s I got installed and ciped for $300 all around. not too bad. The handling is notably improved. the feel of "hugging" the road around corners, even with bumps, is SOO much better now- the cheesey little "factory" sized tires felt so sloppy in comparison.
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