17 vs 18 inch Wheels Ride Quality – Which One Best?

Do you want to install new wheels to get maximum comfort but are caught in a dilemma about the ride quality between 17 vs 18 inch wheels? Most people get it confusing to find which one gives the most comfortable ride quality between 17 vs 18 inch wheels?

Don’t worry, you have come to the right place to know about 17 vs 18 inch wheels ride quality from this resourceful article. Here, we have discussed the ride quality difference between these two wheels for your better understanding.

In addition to giving you the accurate information, we have discussed the meaning of 17 vs 18 inch wheels ride quality below. Apart from that, we added a quick table of the distinctive features of 17 vs 18 inch wheels and other necessary details in the below-stated parts. 

So, let’s jump to the next parts for more details about the ride quality and other differences between these two tires.

What is 17 vs 18 inch wheels Ride Quality Means?

17 vs 18 Inch Wheels Ride Quality

The ride quality of a vehicle depends on several things, for example, wheel size, tire profile, sidewall flex, shock absorbing ability and more. Wheel size is one of the most considerable aspects that you should consider to determine your car’s ride quality.

There is a saying, the smaller wheels provide best ride quality than medium or larger wheels. However, a 17″ wheel comes with better shock absorbing ability and more sidewall flex. It offers a maximum comfortable ride quality than an 18″ wheel for off-road rides.

On the contrary, an 18″ wheel come with high profile tire that offers wide thread to ensure maximum stability but it is quite rough for off-road vehicles. 

So, in a word, 17 vs 18 inch wheels ride quality means how comfortable riding experience these two wheels provides for their riders. It also means how different riding comfort they offer based on their sizes. 

Comparison table between 17 vs 18 inch wheels

There are several dissimilarities between different features of 17 and 18 inch wheels. Let’s have a look at the following table to know the differences between these two wheels.

Features17″ wheel18″ wheel
Noise levelQuieter Slightly Louder 
Wheel size  17 inch18 inch 
Traction Provide traction and gripsOffers more traction and grips 
Comfortability More comfortable riding experience Slightly rough riding experience 
Look Pleasing Aesthetically pleasing 
Weight Lighter Heavier 
Fuel economy Fuel efficient  Burns more fuel 
Tire profile Low profile  High profile 
Designed forChallenging off-road obstacles Paved surfaces 

17 vs 18 inch wheels – Detailed Differences discussion

17 vs 18 inch wheels have some differences in their characteristics that impacts their overall performance. Let me explain these features in detail from the above-mentioned table for your better understanding.

Noise level

Smaller wheels with low profile tires are quieter on the road while larger wheels are slight louder with high profile tires. For example, a small wheel tends to put extra rubber between the passenger and the road that ensures less road noise. On the contrary, an 18″ wheel with a high profile tire produces more road noise. 

Wheel size

There is a visible difference in the size of these two wheels. An 18″ wheel is literally one inch larger than a 17″ wheel. In addition, a 17 inch wheel requires a low profile tire while an 18″ wheel requires a high profile tire.

As a result, an 18 inch wheel comes with a wider tire that offers more thread on it. It offers great traction and grips for the safest cornering performance.


We all know larger wheels need tires with more thread to provide maximum stability, great traction and grips on paved surfaces. An 18 inch wheel offers great traction, safe handling, and perfect cornering ability for your vehicle. On the  other hand, a 17″ wheel requires a slightly lower profile tire than the 18 inch wheels. 


If you compare these two wheels based on their comfortability, then you can easily find out the difference. For example, a 17″ wheel comes with more sidewall flex that absorbs road shock and offers a smooth ride. It provides a more comfortable riding experience than an 18″ wheel on challenging off-road rides. 

Though the comfortability of these two wheels depends on which type of roads you will be driving. The built-in more sidewall cushioning ensures smooth ride in rural, and off-road areas for 17″ wheels.


Larger wheels look better and give attractive appearance to your whole vehicle. If you make a comparison between 17 and 18 inch wheel on the basis of there look, an 18″ wheel is the winner. An 18″ wheel is aesthetically attractive for many vehicle owners for their pleasing look than a 17″ wheel. 

So, if you are concerned about the look of your wheel, then go for 18″ wheels. On the contrary, go for 17″ wheels if you are concerned about the riding comfort. 


The weight difference between 17 and 18 inch wheels is quite noticable because they vary several lbs. A 17 inch wheel has excellent fuel efficiency because of their light-weight  feature.

On the other hand, compared to a 17″ wheel, an 18″ wheel weigh around 4-5 lbs more that can add extra weight to your vehicle. Hence, a 17″ wheel is the smartest option for a great overall performance.

Fuel economy

There is a huge difference in fuel efficiency between 17 vs 18 inch wheels. Larger wheels burns more fuel than the smaller wheels to run same distance. Moreover, larger wheels add extra weight to your vehicle that can easily reduce your car’s overall performance such as fuel efficiency. 

Keep it in mind that the fuel efficiency doesn’t only depends on the wheel size, it also depends on the tire’s fuel consumption ratio. In some cases, an 18″ wheel may require a tire with lower fuel consumption ratio than a 17 inch wheel. But most 17″ wheels come with more fuel efficiency feature than the 18″ wheels.

Tire profile

A 17″ wheel requires a low profile tire to ensure great overall performance. Low profile tires comes with extra flex, increased sidewall height, more rubber cushioning. Furthermore, it offers great performance, absorbs shocks, and provide more comfortable ride quality.

On the other hand, an 18″ wheel requires a high profile tire to fit on its wider rims. Its extra tirewall comes with built-in more thread to ensure maximum stability against paved surfaces. However, it offers great handling, better traction, and increased cornering control for you. 

So, choose your desired wheel size based on what riding performance you prefer to or need to experience often.

Designed for

You can find a difference between 17 vs 18 inch wheels besed on what are they designed for. A 17 inch wheel is designed for low profile tires to provide maximum comfort for off-roading.

On the contrary, an 18 inch wheel is designed for greater handling, maximum stability, better traction on paved surfaces. As a result, it is quite easy to determine the wheel size based on your driveways.

17 vs 18 inch wheels ride quality: Which one should you pick?

There is no ultimate answer to the above question because ride quality depends on several aspects. Wheel size, tire thread, and sidewall flex, are responsible for providing a great ride quality for your vehicle.

If you compare the ride quality between 17 vs 18 inch wheels side by side, your choice will be easier. First consider, the wheel size because it plays a vital role to provide optimal riding comfort.

A 17 inch wheel is smaller in size than an 18 inch wheel. Smaller wheels provide more comfortable ride quality than larger wheels. 

Second consider, the tire tread pattern is also responsible for offering comfortable riding quality. If your tire comes with more tread, it will offer increased handling and maximum ground clearance. 

Sidewall flex is also an important aspect to provide comfortable ride quality for your vehicle. Generally small wheels come with extra sidewall flex that absorbs road shock to provide a smooth ride. 

So, if you want to get a more comfortable ride quality for your car then a 17″ wheel is the best option for you than an 18″ wheel in terms of ride quality.  

Does Ride Quality Change with Wheel Size?

If you are wondering if ride quality changes with wheel size then the answer is yes. The ride quality of your car significantly differs according to wheel size. However, handling, noise level, fuel efficiency also depends on wheel sizes and also on your preferences. 

The following rules are applied for wheel sizes.  

  • Small wheel features comfortable ride quality, handling, comparatively quieter noise, and less stability.
  • Medium wheels feature more stability, average ride quality, improved handling, louder noise.
  • Larger wheels offer great handling, maximum stability, louder noise, and poor ride quality.

Apart from the wheel size, weather condition, road type, tire tread, engine, and other factors also responsible for any vehicle’s ride quality. 

Which wheel is more important in cars?

Different cars come with different wheel drive technology to provide optimal performance. Some people love 4WD (four-wheel drive) while other people prefer AWD (All-wheel drive) for their vehicles.

Most cars’ engines come with 2WD (two-wheel drive) that can either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. 4WD, AWD are the best options for off-road driving. Your vehicle’s engine sends power to all four wheels to work perfectly for both 4WD and AWD vehicles.

In addition, the choice is yours to make based on the purpose of use and driving conditions. However, a 2WD also does the magic to overcome sticky or off-roading challenges.

If your car comes with 2WD technology, then you may want to know which wheel is important for your vehicle front or rear. Let’s learn about them for more details.

Front wheel drive

In front wheel drive, the front two wheels receive power and are responsible for steering and moving the car. Their manufacturing costs are cheaper in price  and take up less room than rear-wheel drive.

Rear wheel drive

In rear wheel drive, the power is sent to the two back wheels. Powering the rear wheels ensures acceleration, better handling, braking, and other benefits.

Does Your Vehicle Need Some Wheel Maintenance?

Wheels are the most vital elements that give the most smooth riding experience for cars. The combination of rubber and metal (wheel and tire) is the medium to create interaction between the passenger and roads. Your car’s suspension, wheel, and tire may wear out rapidly if you don’t have proper maintenance for the wheels. 

Have a maintenance service often after a sufficient period to avoid uneven ride, suspension damage, and other issues. The following regular wheel maintenance services are essential for durability and heavy-duty performance. 

Wheel balancing

Your car needs wheel balancing maintenance service to make up for small damages, tire fault, and uneven wear. You can fix the below-stated issues by getting wheel balancing maintenance service.

  • Slipping and spinning tire on the rim.
  • Manufacturing imperfections of the tire.
  • Uneven wear, low grip and vibration while driving.

Wheel Bearing Replacement

Get wheel bearing replacement service if your car’s Wheel bearing shows any wear. Metal bearings installed within the wheel center of your car’s suspension that let the wheels free spinning with low friction. Moreover, it will affect your car’s overall performance by creating noise, increasing vibration, and more issues. 

Tire Replacement

Your car may need to have a tire replacement service before it reaches its tread life. You need to send your car under inspection after reaching 50000 miles. Tire shows chemical reaction to explosion to sun, heat, cold, snow, and wet conditions. As a result, your car may need early tire replacement service. 

Fix suspension issues

The suspension of your car can develop wheel-oriented issues. It may face control arm damage, brittle bushings, and worn springs that are responsible for rapid wear. Your car’s wheel may face issues for these problems. So, fix the suspension issues if you experience any to avoid future wheel issues. 

Read More: 17 vs 20 inch Wheels off Road – Which One Better? 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are smaller wheels more comfortable?

Smaller wheels come with increased sidewall height than the larger wheels. As a result, you can air down the tire to get extra sidewall flex for off-roading.

Small wheels come with shock absorbing ability because they have more rubber cushioning between you and the road that ensures the most comfortable riding quality.

Why are bigger wheels less efficient?

Generally bigger wheels are heavier than the smaller wheels. The extra weight of larger wheels increases your car’s overall weight.

Your vehicle will need extra fuel to run a certain distance with bigger wheels.  Your car needs less fuel to pass the same distance with small wheels, that’s why bigger wheels are less efficient. 

What size wheel is best for comfort?

There are several wheel sizes available in the market such as smaller, medium, and larger wheels. Small (15-17″) wheels come with extra rubber cushioning and are the best choice for comfort. On the other hand, larger wheels offer great handling with rough riding quality.

What is the wheel’s ride quality?

The ride quality of a wheel means how comfortable the riding quality it offers for its users. Smaller wheels provide best comfortable riding quality while bigger wheels offer great handling with rough riding quality of that wheel.

Final Words

Ride quality is one of the most important features while choosing new wheels for your vehicle. 17 vs 18 inch wheels ride quality varies because of the size difference between these two wheels. Which wheel you will pick based on its ride quality depends on your choice and in which way you will use your vehicle. So, choose wisely 17″ wheel for more comfortable ride quality. 

I am an engineer and the chief editor of tireslover.com, I am a passionate blogger as well. I am the person who can ensure a perfect, informative, honest, and helpful, guide with 10 years of work experience with different varieties of tires.

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