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November 9, 2014

Staggered vs. Square: How Does Pretty Perform?

Dear Bree,

Seems like I’m developing a thing for wheels and tires.  I’ve been looking around a lot lately and noticing how many people have cool wheels on their cars.  The variety is kind of amazing!  I’m trying to learn more and decide just want I want to do with my car, and I have a question:  I saw someone recently with bigger (wider) tires on the back of their car than the front.  What’s that all about?  Can you tell me a little about that?  Pros and cons, etc.?


Dear Curious,

What you’re referring to is called a “staggered set-up,” and that means exactly what you said–the tires (and wheels) on the rear of the vehicle are wider (bigger) than the ones on the front.  In contrast, a “square set-up” is what you’re used to seeing–identical wheels and tires all the way around.  And as with anything, there are absolutely pros and cons to choosing a staggered set-up.

A staggered set-up is done mostly for cosmetic purposes; it can make a car look more sleek or powerful, for example, but there are performance issues, as well.  When the tires are wider in the back, traction is better in dry conditions during the summer months, and the vehicle may be able to move more easily over uneven ground.  If you live somewhere cold and snowy and you have a need for snow tires during the winter months, then you want a square-set-up in the winter.  You may or may not be able to use the same wheels with both set-ups–it depends on the wheels and the vehicle. If you’re new to all of this, these are things you definitely need to check into before you go out and purchase new wheels and tires.  In fact, there are a lot of things you should look into.

If you’re looking at a staggered set-up for purely aesthetic reasons (which I’m guessing you are), then the many and varied performance issues that you can address through this set-up may not be of interest to you; but if you’re looking to race or really improve the speed, handling, etc. of your vehicle, more research will definitely be needed.  There are A LOT of options, combinations, etc. available, and some of them could mean making changes to your vehicle itself to accommodate larger wheels and tires.  My best advice: Ask lots of questions.

One thing you should know is that when you have a staggered set-up, you can’t really rotate your tires because the front and rear tires are different sizes.  So, your tires may not last as long as they would in a square set-up, which may mean more out-of pocket for you in the long run.  Maintaining good alignment and balance will help, as will keeping a check on tire pressure.  All of the usual maintenance you should do to take care of your tires is even more important when you’re maintaining two different sizes of tires.

For more information about specific brands, sizes, etc., I would encourage you to take a look at our Gallery online.  Get some ideas of what you like and then come visit us in one of our stores.  Sit down and talk to one of our associates, go through the pros and cons of different sizes, talk to them about what to do if you need snow tires or want high-performance tires.  They know their tires and wheels and will really be able to get to the nuts and bolts of what will work best for your personal taste, your vehicle, and your wallet.  Don’t forget to ask one of our RNR associates about setting you up on a payment plan that fits your budget, too!  They can get you in the wheels and tires you want and out on the road again in no time at all!

Let me know when you get those wheels on–I’d love to see a pic!

Until then, be safe!


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