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Hagerty Employee

Piston Slap: Minus 1 tires for the roads Down Under?

Raghav writes:

Hi Sajeev, I currently have a Camry RZ (Australian spec) with a wheel size 225/45/18. I am planning to replace with 255/55/17. Could you please let me know if this is compatible and will not create any issues?


Sajeev answers:

The short answer is no, that is not compatible: That size increases your tire’s circumference to the point that it will read about 5 mph (8 km/h) too slow on the highway.  While not the end of the world, the discrepancy could land you with a speeding ticket for no good reason.


Luckily there’s a better tire size not far off the mark...


Read the full article on

Intermediate Driver

One big thing to watch out for is brake clearance. You should be able to clear the brakes on a minus-one sizing, but maybe not a minus-two sizing. For example, minus-two from the stock 18s on a 2.0T Kia Optima will not clear the stock 320mm brakes and calipers. In the U.S., Tire Rack will usually always have this info, and a suggested tire size for any wheel modifications you wanna make.


Going smaller may also limit your tire selection. My Optima comes with a 205/65R16 tire. This means that I'm locked out from many performance all-season tires, all of the high-performance all-season tires, and all summer tires. Modern performance tires do require a certain structural integrity to the sidewall. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, the current king of summer tires, does not come in anything thicker than a 50-series.


Finally, wheel sizes have increased proportionally as car proportions have changed in response to European and Asian pedestrian safety regulations. Today's 18-inch wheel is yesterday's 17-inch wheel. An E46 328i with the sport package from 20 years ago came wrapped in 225/45R17 rubber. The 235/45R18 rubber on a modern Camry will have a touch more sidewall than that E46 (105mm vs 101mm.)


This isn't to say that oversized factory wheels aren't the worst trend about modern cars - they are. The infrastructure in large parts of the U.S. cannot support low-profile tires, such as the 19s that leave minimal sidewall on the new Honda Accord. I could feel Albert Biermann's disdain for the 22s he was forced to work with on the new Genesis GV80. But there's more nuance to the situation than the "smaller = better" thought that's commonplace in enthusiast spaces.

Community Manager

Very well said and I agree 100% with all points. You really nailed it.


Often when wanting to go down 2 or more inches on a more premium vehicle (with fancy brakes that look great behind big wheels), you'd have to get the front spindle/calipers/brakes from a base model...and if its only sold globally in that configuration that means international shipping.  Lots of work, no financial gain (probably the opposite in terms of resale) and I assume nobody has done it for these reasons. 

Community Manager

Got this wonderful message via email, thought others might like to see it: 


Absolutely the way to go. Did minus 2 on my 2006 Mazda 6 and could hardly believe the improvement in comfort. I don’t solo the car, so essentially never have reason to desire more lateral grip than I get with the Nokian WR’s that I put on. I do RoadRally, and the WR’s are great for unpaved as well as paved roads. And as you suggest, the higher sidewall essentially shrugs off all but the worst potholes. Have bent rims with 55 profile tires, but never with 60 or higher.

Pit Crew

I rented a Camry RZ once in Melbourne.  A horridly harsh riding car, it fidgeted and tramlined on the freeway and crashed and bashed through urban and rural roads alike.  A friends Camry hybrid of the same era rides like a Rolls-Royce in comparison.  I think the question poster is doing a very smart thing in downsizing wheel size.  There was a small market segment in Australia for 4 door sporting sedans - the HSV sedans were the class leaders here.  Every manufacturer at some point decided to do something in this genre, the RZ was a Toyota effort there for a while.  Typically it was stiff suspension and tyres, sports seats, stickers and a red start button, and aimed at fleet buyers who liked to watch touring car racing.  Ford and Holden owned the market with actual high performance sedans but plenty of mildly warmed over examples from other makes happened.  Over the last few decades it has thrown up quite a few short-lived market oddities, would actually make for a good article.

Community Manager

That's a good article idea!  I will float it with the team.  Thanks for your feedback with the RZ, that makes a lot of sense.