Wheel size and alloy vs steel?

Discussion in 'Fuel Economy' started by jberman, May 28, 2015.

  1. jberman

    jberman Member

    I'm a little confused on what is better for mpg gains on a car. I know for example, the 2015 Toyota Corolla LE ECO, comes standard with 15" steel wheels and claims 42 mpg. The LE ECO plus, which comes with 16-in. aerodynamically designed alloy wheels, only nets 40 mpg. The only other difference is fog lights. Total weight difference between the cars is 20 lbs.

    On my car, the 15 Corolla LE (non-eco), it has 16" steel wheels. Out of curiosity, would it benefit more from 15" steel, or 16" alloy?
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  2. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    16" tires are wider, there for harder to move. You don 't want wide tires if fe iis your goal. H
  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Also, bigger diameter wheels are harder to get turning than smaller ones. Try spinning in an office chair with your arms out wide vs with your arms tucked in close. If the weight is the same, the smaller diameter will be better.

    I suspect they put more eco tires on the one model as well. Just to confound the variables.

    I recently downsided and lightened my wheels from 17 lb 16" to 11 lb 15". It should help double with both those changes. Too soon to tell anything as I'm still on my first tank.
  4. CapriRacer

    CapriRacer Well-Known Member

    As a general rule, changing tire size only results in small changes - BUT - carefully selecting a tire (meaning make and model) is much more effective.

    So spend your time and money on changing tires, and not so much on wheels.
  5. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    I agree with Capri.

    People often have exaggerated notions of the effects of wheel weight on performance and fuel consumption. Of course weight there really does take a bit more energy to accelerate than equal weight in a non-rotating part, but you can get part of the difference back when you "glide," and when it comes to climbing hills (a more significant consideration here than in many places), rotating mass is no worse than non-rotating mass.
  6. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    11 lbs wheels-very light-pretty stunning-
    better FE better acceleration
    Could improve ride/handling a bit also

    I weighed some wheels-3 different sets for a Nissan titan
    17" steel 31 lbs original OEM wheels
    17" OEM factory cast aluminum alloy =25.5 lbs
    17" Centerline Forged aluminum alloy 20.5 lbs($600 on sale+ another $60 to mount balance the tires)

    Of course I couldn't measure the MPG improvement-didn't expect to be able to-
    But being a mpg nut-I did it anyway
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  7. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    10.5 pounds off a wheel should have roughly the same benefit as 12 pounds off the passengers in stop-n-go conditions, or 10.5 pounds off the passengers at steady speeds or climbing hills. ... All times 4 for 4 wheels, of course, and assuming equal air resistance.
  8. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I'm glad I have 15" wheels now ; tire replacement will be cheaper. But the Yokohoma tires that came with the car are only rated at 44 psi :(
  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    What bugs me is Toyota's decision to use a utilitarian alloy with plastic wheel cover in 15". And as of 2012, go further: paint it black.

    Why not use something like the Prius plug-in rim?
  10. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Mendel , is it possible to get a steel 15 " wheel to use with snow tires , and still use the "lovely" plastic wheel covers ?

    Yes , mine are painted black.
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    We're using 15" Corolla steel rims with snow tires. There's several iterations of push-on wheel covers available, compatible with that steel rim. I'm not sure, but suspect the wheel covers that come with 15" Prius alloys will not fit on something like the Corolla steel rim.

    I've half-heartedly looked at getting Corolla steel rim wheel covers, but various reasons: questionable durability, cost, haven't bothered. Not to mention, they can end up looking like a pig-with-lipstick. Seems to me too: if they're not bare black steelies, they're not snow tires, lol.

    Here's the steel rim we're using:

    Corolla steel rim, part no: 42611-02471 (2006+ model year?)
    steel rim lug nuts: 90942-01007 (plain, open-ended, galvanized)

    You can use the nuts that come with the alloy rims, but they look kind of strange, stick out and have dangling washers.
  12. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    I "believe" in weight loss" to improve FE.
    I pulled the rear seat-about 77 lbs-from the Suburban
    AND the single place 2nd row-about 55 lbs-
    so 130 lbs on perhaps 5200 lbs-
    about 2.5% weight loss-guessing in pure city- it is worth maybe 1% better FE
    But the 1% is based on NOTHING I can cite

    If all you did was accelerate-2% less mass would mean 2% less fuel used
    but as a hyper miler I am probably actually accelerating 5-10% of the time

    PS My computer has some sort of spell "fixer" that LITERALLY changes my words
    In an eariler post it changed alloy to allow??-
    Perhaps I made some spelling error-hit the wrong key-and it made its best guess??
    Or maybe it has decided it doesn't like my writing style(which isn't great,but..)-
    freakin' critic?? english teacher??
  13. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    Oh, I "believe in weight loss" too, and have removed several unnecessary parts from every car I've ever owned. Although a 2% (your example) reduction in mass doesn't reduce overall fuel consumption proportionately, I figure it's still 2% better, when you factor in better acceleration, reduced tire wear, etc. Also, better traction on slippery stuff when the weight comes off the non-driving end.

    Most spell checkers aren't smart enough to object if one accidentally hits "allow" when intending "alloy." To do so, they'd have to have a sense of context, or at least grammar.
  14. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Redy-spell checker and weight loss
    My spell checker seems to be "too smart"
    No way did I hit a w instead of a y-they are too far apart
    My guess is I missed an L maybe-
    and the spelll checker -made a probability guess
    allow is a more commonly used word than alloy
    Mine does "stuff" like that-all the time
    It isn't until a re-read what I wrote-maybe days later
    that i notice the change
    This is an old apple-given to me by a computer very adept friend
    I have no idea what sort of Smarts it has
    but it does things like the allow for alloy "guess" all the time- peculiar
    yeah like some bossy editor-
    I hit wrong keys-and regularly misspell- it is why I use all the - - -'s noticed if I use upper case or put in the hyphen-it will "let" me do whatever I want
    probably misspelled hyphen I hate english-

    Like I said-2% won't give 2%
    about 2.5% weight loss-guessing in pure city- it is worth maybe 1% better FE
    But the 1% is based on NOTHING I can cite

    If all you did was accelerate-2% less mass would mean 2% less fuel used
    but as a hyper miler I am probably actually accelerating 5-10% of the time

    A better guess is 2% weight loss gives maybe .2% overall
    It won't do anything for steady speed-and you are only accelerating maybe 5-10% of the time
    Without rebuilding the car -smaller lighter everything different gearing-
    maybe you get a 1 to 1/10 return overall

    Heck Look at the Ford Pickup-
    claims it lost 15%
    they reworked EVERYTHING-
    and their model improvement is BARELY MORE than GM got-model improvement
    Check GM 2011 5.3 vs current 2015 5.3
    then check Fords 3.5 twin turbo 2011 vs current

    Despite the HUGE weight loss-Ford's relative FE improvement
    hardly more than GM's improvement-with no weight loss bragging
    It is more-but not the STRIKING improvement you would expect from Fords 700 lb claim-

    Yeah I can't measure what the weight loss is doing for me-but I do it anyway
    It isn't remotely as good as changing driving style

    Mild hypermiling drops you down one class size wise
    I get Trailblazer city MPG with little effort in the 1998 suburban
  15. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Many years ago I was sweating over an old-school typewriter, attempting to hammer out a cover letter to go with a resume, error-free. I'd done maybe 10 attempts, never making it all the way through. The next sheet, rolled in the paper, started on my name/address:

    Mendek...... DOH!!!

    It actually became my pet name. ;)
  16. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Easy to hit the wrong darned key

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