18 vs 20″ Wheels MPG: Fuel Efficiency Clash!

Are you considering upgrading your wheels and wondering how it might impact your vehicle’s fuel efficiency? The choice between 18-inch and 20-inch wheels can have a noticeable effect on your MPG (miles per gallon).

Generally, larger wheels tend to be heavier and have lower-profile tires, which can result in increased rolling resistance and reduced fuel efficiency. On the other hand, 18-inch wheels are lighter and typically fitted with higher-profile tires, allowing for better MPG. 

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between 18-inch and 20-inch wheels in terms of fuel economy and help you make an informed decision

Similarities Between 18 Vs 20” Wheels MPG

When comparing 18-inch and 20-inch wheels, there are several similarities regarding their impact on MPG (miles per gallon). Here are some key similarities:

Tire Type

Both 18-inch and 20-inch wheels can accommodate various tire types, including all-season, summer, or performance tires.

The choice of tire type can affect MPG, with low rolling resistance tires generally offering better fuel efficiency.

Vehicle Size and Weight

The MPG of a vehicle is influenced by its overall size and weight. Whether equipped with 18-inch or 20-inch wheels, the MPG can be affected similarly based on the vehicle’s aerodynamics, engine performance, and weight distribution.

Driving Conditions

The MPG of a vehicle can be influenced by driving conditions such as city driving, highway cruising, or stop-and-go traffic.

Both 18-inch and 20-inch wheels would have similar effects on MPG under similar driving conditions.

Maintenance and Driving Habits

Regardless of wheel size, proper vehicle maintenance, regular tire pressure checks, and adopting fuel-efficient driving habits (e.g., smooth acceleration, avoiding excessive idling) can positively impact MPG.

18 Vs 20” Wheels MPG: Quick Comparison Table

For a quick and easy comparison of MPG between 18” and 20” wheels, take a look at the following table. Explore the potential differences in fuel efficiency for these wheel sizes. 

Aspect18-Inch Wheels20-Inch Wheels
Fuel EfficiencyGenerally better MPGPotentially lower MPG
Acceleration/PerformanceCan offer smoother accelerationMay impact acceleration and performance
Ride ComfortProvides better cushioning and comfortMay result in a slightly harsher ride
Cost of OwnershipPotential fuel savings in the long runSlightly higher fuel costs
AestheticsMore functional, standard appearanceStylish and visually appealing

How The Difference Between 18 and 20” Wheels MPG Matters?

The difference between 18-inch and 20-inch wheels can have an impact on MPG (miles per gallon) in several ways, and understanding these differences is essential for making an informed decision. 

Here’s why the variance in MPG matters when comparing 18 vs 20-inch wheels:

Fuel Efficiency

Generally, smaller wheels, such as 18-inch, tend to offer better fuel efficiency compared to larger wheels like 20-inch.

The reason behind this is that smaller wheels have lighter weight and generate less rolling resistance, resulting in improved MPG.

Acceleration And Performance

Larger wheels, such as 20-inch, may look more stylish and enhance the vehicle’s appearance, but they can have a negative effect on acceleration and overall performance.

The additional weight and increased rolling resistance of larger wheels can impact the vehicle’s ability to accelerate efficiently, potentially leading to decreased MPG.

Ride Comfort

Smaller wheels with higher tire sidewalls, like 18-inch wheels, provide more cushioning and absorb road imperfections better than larger wheels.

This improved ride comfort can contribute to a smoother driving experience and potentially result in better MPG by reducing the need for harsh braking or acceleration due to uneven road surfaces.

Cost of Ownership

Fuel costs can be a significant expense over the ownership of a vehicle. Choosing wheels that offer better MPG, such as 18-inch wheels, can help save money on fuel consumption in the long run.

Additionally, increased fuel efficiency can lead to reduced emissions, promoting environmental sustainability.

20 Vs 18” Wheels MPG: What’s Our Opinion?

In our opinion, when comparing 18-inch and 20-inch wheels in terms of MPG, there are a few factors to consider.

Firstly, tire size and weight play a significant role in MPG. Smaller 18-inch wheels tend to have lighter and narrower tires, which can contribute to better fuel economy. 

On the other hand, larger 20-inch wheels require wider and heavier tires, potentially resulting in slightly lower MPG.

Secondly, aerodynamics comes into play. Larger wheels can affect the airflow around the vehicle, causing increased drag and potentially reducing fuel efficiency. 

Ultimately, the choice between 18-inch and 20-inch wheels should consider factors beyond just MPG, including aesthetics, performance, and ride comfort.

It’s advisable to strike a balance between personal preferences, intended use, and potential trade-offs in fuel efficiency.

How to Install  18” Wheels in Your Vehicle?

Installing 18-inch wheels in your vehicle requires careful handling and following proper procedures. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install 18-inch wheels:

Step 1: Gather the necessary tools

Before beginning the installation process, ensure you have the right tools, such as a lug wrench, torque wrench, jack, jack stands, and a wheel alignment tool if available.

It’s important to have all the tools on hand to ensure a smooth installation process.

Step 2: Prepare The Vehicle

Park your vehicle on a flat surface and engage the parking brake. If applicable, remove hubcaps or wheel covers from the existing wheels.

This will provide better access to the lug nuts and make the installation process easier.

Step 3: Loosen The Lug Nuts

Use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts on the current wheels. Loosen them in a crisscross pattern, but do not remove them completely at this stage.

Loosening the lug nuts before lifting the vehicle will make it easier to remove the wheels once the vehicle is raised.

Step 4.: Lift The Vehicle

Locate the designated jack points indicated in your vehicle’s manual. Safely position the jack under the vehicle and lift it until the current wheels are off the ground.

Once the vehicle is raised, place the jack stands under the frame or axle for added stability and safety.

Step 5. Remove The Old Wheels: 

With the vehicle lifted and secured, fully unscrew the lug nuts and carefully remove the current wheels from the vehicle. Place them aside in a safe area to avoid any damage.

Step 6: Install The 18-Inch Wheels

Take the 18-inch wheels and align the holes on the wheels with the wheel studs on the vehicle. Slide the wheels on the studs and hand-tighten the lug nuts.

It’s important to ensure that the wheels are properly aligned and centered on the wheel studs.

Step 7: Tighten The Lug Nuts

Using the lug wrench, gradually tighten the lug nuts in a crisscross pattern. Start by tightening each lug nut a little at a time until they are snug.

Then, using a torque wrench, tighten the lug nuts to the recommended torque specification provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

This will ensure that the wheels are securely fastened and prevent any issues while driving.

Step 8: Lower the vehicle

Carefully lower the vehicle back to the ground using the jack. Once the vehicle is on the ground, remove the jack stands and lower the jack completely. Make sure the vehicle is stable before proceeding.

Step 9: Double-check lug nut tightness

Once the vehicle is on the ground, use the torque wrench to confirm that all lug nuts are tightened to the proper torque specification.

Go around each wheel and double-check the tightness of each lug nut to ensure they are properly secured. This step is crucial for the safety and stability of the wheels.

Step 10: Repeat The Process

Repeat the entire process for each wheel, ensuring all 18-inch wheels are installed securely.

Take your time to ensure that each wheel is installed properly and the lug nuts are tightened correctly.

How Do You Care For 18” Wheels in Your Vehicle?

Proper care and maintenance of your 18-inch wheels are crucial to ensure their longevity and performance.

Here are some essential tips to keep your wheels looking great and functioning optimally.

#1. Regular Washing

  • Use mild soap and water to clean the wheels, removing dirt and brake dust.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the wheel finish.
  • Use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub the surface.

#2. Protective Coating or Wax:

Apply a wheel-specific protective coating or wax to prevent corrosion and maintain a glossy finish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and reapplication intervals.

#3. Avoiding Curbs and Hazards:

  • Be cautious when parking and driving to avoid scraping or hitting curbs, potholes, or other hazards.
  • Regularly inspect the wheels for any signs of damage, such as scratches, dents, or cracks.

#4. Proper Tire Pressure:

Maintain the recommended tire pressure to ensure even wear and reduce the risk of wheel damage. Use a tire pressure gauge and check the pressure regularly, including the spare tire if applicable.


Do 18” Wheels Provide Better Fuel Efficiency Compared To 20” Wheels?

While larger wheels may be associated with a sportier look, smaller 18” wheels generally offer better fuel efficiency due to their reduced weight and rolling resistance.

Will Switching From 20” Wheels To 18” Wheels Improve My Vehicle’s MPG?

In most cases, switching to smaller 18” wheels can potentially improve fuel efficiency, as they tend to be lighter and require less energy to rotate compared to larger 20” wheels.

How Much Of A Difference In MPG Can I Expect Between 18” And 20” Wheels?

 The difference in MPG between 18” and 20” wheels can vary depending on various factors such as vehicle type, weight, aerodynamics, and driving conditions. However, it is generally observed that 18” wheels offer a slight advantage in fuel efficiency.

Are There Any Downsides To Using 18” Wheels In Terms Of MPG?

While 18” wheels may improve fuel efficiency, they might compromise the vehicle’s ride comfort and handling compared to larger 20” wheels, which often offer better stability and performance.

Can Tire Selection Affect The MPG Difference Between 18” And 20” Wheels?

Yes, tire selection plays a role in overall fuel efficiency. Choosing low rolling resistance tires for both 18” and 20” wheels can help optimize MPG and offset any differences caused solely by wheel size.

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