16 vs 17 Inch Wheels: Differences and Better Option For Off-roading

Are you wondering whether you should pick 16 inch or 17-inch wheel? Do you want to know which works best for your driving? As such, knowing the similarities and significant differences between a 16-inch and a 17-inch wheel is vital. They both use different tire sizes and offer further significant performance changes to your vehicle.

In terms of tire sizes, smaller-inch wheels tend to offer a lot more comfort when driving. In contrast, the larger ones are stiffer with better performance on rugged terrain. Factors like ground clearance differentiate the 16-inch wheels from the 17-inch ones.

In this article, we’ll talk about the differences and benefits that both sizes of wheels give. We will also indicate the better option for off-roading and outline some reasons why.

16 vs. 17 Inch Wheels: An Overview of the Differences

This table highlights the differences between the 16-inch and 17-inch wheels based on various categories, namely their size differences, traction, comfort, and handling, etc.


16 vs 17 Inch Wheels: Detailed Analysis

Now that we have a brief knowledge of what each wheel size can offer, let’s get into a more in-depth analysis of the qualities, characteristics, pros, and cons of the two sizes to understand their capabilities better.

Wheels Size and Tire’s Size

For the wheel size, the 16-inch is the smaller of the two sizes. Usually, bigger wheel sizes require larger tires that can fit on the rims. As such, the 16-inch wheel works on smaller tire sizes compared to the 17-inch.

Smaller tires offer more flexibility than bigger ones. However, not only should you pay attention to the tire size for a comfortable and soft ride, but you should also ensure to compare and choose the high-quality tires for your vehicle.

The bigger tires come with a lot more stiffness and rigidity than the smaller ones. However, the smaller tires don’t perform as well in off-road conditions. They are less resistant to potholes, debris, and rocks on the terrain.

Larger wheels use larger tires resulting in better ground clearance. This is because it elevates your vehicle’s height and enables it to ride over significant obstacles while keeping its structure and stability.

Also, it keeps the vehicle safe from rocks, debris, and anything else that may hinder movement while off-roading. Furthermore, bigger wheels make towing easier.

Better ground clearance directly facilitates off-roading because it gives your vehicle the ability to plow through rough terrains and steep hills with minimal fuss. Interestingly, a good ground clearance keeps your car well above the ground while threading through dirt and obstacles.

The only major demerit is its stiffness when driving and its average comfort levels. Although increased wheel size means better ground clearance, bigger doesn’t always translate better for off-roading.

Cost of Wheels and Tires

The bigger the tires, the more expensive they are — this is only natural. The 17-inch tires require more effort, materials, and time to manufacture than the 16 inches; hence are more expensive.

The 16-inch tire is also easier to install than the 17-inc. The detailed process of installation adds up to its overall cost.

Brake Size

The size of your brake fundamentally rests on the dimensions of your wheels. Small wheels like the 16 inches use smaller brake pads, while larger wheels like the 17 inches use larger ones. For off-roading, larger brakes are highly recommended and more suitable than smaller ones.

Larger brakes are fundamentally better than smaller ones because the added surface area of the pads and discs creates more contact and friction. With this, the wheel speed is reduced, allowing for the dissemination of heat generated from braking.

On the other hand, smaller brakes provide lesser braking power due to reduced surface area and don’t disseminate heat.


Handling is an essential factor for every car enthusiast out there, whether driving on-road or off-road. The 16-inch and 17-inch wheels offer good handling promises, but the 17-inch wheel provides more stable handling when driving.

It achieves this because the 16-inch wheels often use smaller tires with taller sidewalls that allow more flex on pavements, reduce handling, and make it less stable. Also, although bigger wheels offer better stability, they can put quite a strain on your suspension.


The 17-inch wheels edge out the 16-inch ones when it comes to traction. Bigger wheels use tires that mostly come with shorter sidewalls, improving handling and better grip on the terrain.

Thus, the 17-inch excels at off-roading with its steeper sidewalls and more effective grip on the terrain. However, on the other hand, it also offers a lot of stress to the brakes.


Wheel sizes play significant roles when it comes to comfort. The 16-inch wheels come with tires with sturdy sidewalls, which do better against sharp points on the road by absorbing the force from potholes and uneven surfaces.

In contrast, the 17-inch wheels come with tires having shorter sidewalls that, although they excel at handling and traction, aren’t suitable for cushioning the impact of shocks on the road.

Wheel For Off-roading

16 vs 17 Inch Wheels: Which Option Is Better For Off-roading?

Generally, larger wheels like the 17-inch are better for off-roading because they are firm on the ground and make driving faster. In addition, bigger tires allow for better brake efficiency but going with big wheels means sacrificing your comfort and flexibility.

But the ideal off-road choice will be with a smaller wheel that can fit a larger tire which can offer better traction and handling with its tall sidewall. Taller sidewalls are perfect and ideal for off-roading because they can be aired down for easy maneuvering.

So if you’re asking which is more preferred for off-roading, the 16-inch is ideal when fitted with bigger tires.

Can You Replace 16 Inch Wheels With 17 Inch?

Yes, you can. When it comes to exchanging wheels, you can move up and down an inch. Howeverm bigger tires tend to offer a rougher ride and also put stress on suspension and brakes.


Whether you use a 16 or 17-inch wheel for your off-road, it will always come down to you and how you picture your ideal driving performance. Choosing what makes your experience an enjoyable one is what you should embark on.

If you want a smaller wheel, cost-effective option, and softer ride, then you should go for the 16 inches. However, if you prefer a larger wheel and better traction, then the 17 inch works best for you.

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