Before we get into the benefits and downsides of staggered tyre sizes, let’s define this term.
Staggered tyre sizes usually means that the rear wheels and tyres are wider (and sometimes bigger) than the front wheels and tyres.
High-performance vehicles, especially rear-wheel-drive cars, usually have this setup.
But why is this so?
More grip for the driven wheels!
A powerful rear-wheel-drive car has staggered tyre sizes to enhance grip for the driven wheels.
This helps ensure optimal traction and helps deliver quicker take-offs from a standstill.
With square sizes (all the wheels and tyres are the same size), the driven wheels may slip during such launch manoeuvres.
The wider contact patch also means there is more grip when cornering.
This lets the driver put down more power before the traction control system intervenes.
Or, if there is no traction control, the driver can push harder before the tyres lose traction.
1) Improved traction
2) Higher cornering speeds
3) Quicker/better launches off-the-line
But it’s not all good…
However, staggered tyre sizes also have their downsides.
Some experts suggest that rear tyres that are wider than the front tyres are risky at the limit.
If a driver pushes too hard, it is possible that the car will understeer.
This is because the front tyre’s narrower contact patch reduces front grip.
Then there is the tyre rotation issue…
Because the front and rear tyre sizes are dissimilar, you can’t rotate your tyres.
Rotating your tyres helps ensure they wear evenly.
With staggered tyre sizes, the rear tyres will usually wear out faster than the front tyres.
This is especially true for very powerful rear-wheel-drive cars.
So when this happens, the safest move is to replace all four tyres – even if the front ones are still okay.
This is because you don’t want different tyres having varying levels of performance.
1) Possible understeer at the limit of performance
2) You can’t rotate your tyres
3) You can’t maximise your tyres’ value – you need to replace them once one pair wears out