Have you ever noticed a vehicle rolling past you, running different wheel sizes? You may have wondered why they have wider wheels and tires in the rear? How do the wheels fit? Is there a benefit to running different sized wheels and tires and does it affect the performance of the vehicle? In this article we’ll cover the difference between a square setup and a staggered setup on your vehicle and explain why some owners choose to go big and why many stick with a square setup.
What is a staggered setup?
When it comes time to start upgrading parts on your vehicle, choosing the right wheels is imperative. You want to be sure that the fitment is correct and that your choice achieves the aesthetic that you want. Many people choose to run a staggered wheel setup. A staggered setup or fitment means running wider or larger wheels and tires on the rear of your vehicle than the ones on the front. For example, running 18×8.5 wheels up front and 19×10 on the rear. This is common with many rear wheel drive vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, BMW, Mercedes, Dodge and others.
What is a square setup?
A square setup means that the tires are equal at all 4 corners of the vehicle and that there is no difference in tire width between the front and rear axles. While most vehicles, performance and non-performance come stock with a square setup, many who decide to upgrade to aftermarket wheels choose to keep a square setup to optimize the lifespan of their tires.
Benefits vs Downfalls
Staggered wheel setups are more commonly associated with personal handling preferences/driving style, and are intended to accommodate performance vehicles. The wider tires provide balancing and handling characteristics while also providing adequate traction for high horsepower vehicles.
One issue you may encounter while running a staggered setup if using the car for performance purposes, is understeer. Understeer is a vehicle’s tendency to “push” through a corner, which becomes negatively affected when running smaller width tires up front. Having less control and handling leads some drivers to prefer to go from a staggered setup to a square setup in order to reduce the odds of understeering in harsh driving conditions.
The second issue would be the inability to rotate your tires. Because you are running wider tires in the rear than the front, you’re unable to rotate your back tires to the front and vice versa. Due to this, the longevity of your tires may dramatically decrease, especially in a racing environment where burnouts and cornering cause major wear. You’ll be spending a pretty penny on tires if you like to burn rubber.
Fender Flares and Wide Body Kits
Many that choose to upgrade their wheel and tire setup are willing to go the extra mile to change the entire look of the vehicle. This includes adding fender flares or for some, a full widebody kit that dramatically changes the vehicle’s appearance. Both choices allow for wider wheels and tires to fit and look great.
There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to a square or staggered set up. If your vehicle application allows you to install a wider setup, it will definitely look more aggressive and will perform better under most circumstances. In some cases trimming and modifications are needed. Yes, wider tires are heavier, understeer is a possibility and tire rotation is an issue, but for some, the aggressive look makes it all worth it. Keeping a square setup may be the way to go if you’re looking for a more neutral setting for your vehicle, in addition to maintaining the ability to rotate your tires.
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