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Should I get smaller rims for winter tires?

My 2012 Ram has 20-inch tires but I want to go to with 18- or 19-inch winter tires with steel rims. Is this advisable? – Dave

"Minus sizing" takes advantage of smaller-sized rims that are used primarily for winter tire applications. Tire-size calculations have to take place in order to maintain the correct ratios and keep your speedometer accurately reporting your speed. This was once a manual process – now it's easy to find online tire size convertors that perform the necessary arithmetic. Three per cent variance in the overall tire diameter is the maximum allowable when changing to a different size rim and tire.

The stock tire size for your truck is P275/60R20, but unfortunately there are no readily available 18- or 19-inch steel wheels for your specific application. If you are keen to keep the look and stance of a larger wheel, you will have to purchase aluminum alloy wheels.

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In your case, Dave, there is an easier option as the base model 2012 Dodge truck came equipped with a stock size of P265/70R17. This presents the most cost-effective solution as there are many steel rim and tire packages available for this sizing.

Low-profile winter tires will always out-perform their all-season counterparts, but keep in mind that improved deep-snow traction is possible when using narrower, taller-profile tires.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.

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