Will Changing Wheels On My Toyota Prius Impact Fuel Economy?
If you are like me and get carried away sometimes with car mods, I have some helpful hints. With gas prices rising, I am finding that I will need to drive my trusted 2008 Toyota Prius more. Not a big deal. I love the car, but it is rather plain.
When I was in the tire store last, I began looking around at wheels that could make the car stand out a bit more. After digging around, I concluded that I would not change the wheels unless they were made for a hybrid vehicle.
I have my reasons for doing things, but I found it pertinent to tell you why I chose not to install aftermarket wheels on my Prius.
Reason One: Aftermarket Does Not Always Mean Better Quality
When it comes to factory-installed aluminum wheels, the quality is hard to beat. Most people are not aware that OE wheels have some of the highest-grade aluminum out there.
The reason for this is Toyota, and other car companies want their cars to be safe and last. Going with cheap aftermarket wheels can be a disaster for safety reasons, not to mention they are not an exact fit.
There are many universal bore sizes and lug sizes out there that will fit multiple vehicles and models. Using an aftermarket universal wheel is scraping the bottom of the barrel for upgrades and mods.
I knew that when I could not find anything in the same quality bracket as what I had on my Prius, I decided that was a no-go for me.
Reason 2: Your Prius Can See A Reduction In Fuel Economy
The OE wheels that came standard on your Prius were designed for fuel economy. Moving away from the standard wheel can cause a reduction in MPG.
I went through this scenario when I was looking for an extra set of wheels for my winter tires. I decided to get an affordable used set of stock Prius wheels because, during the winter, I want to maximize my MPG when it suffers the most.
I am not telling anyone not to go aftermarket with wheels. By all means, it is your car, and you can do what you want. I, however, use my Prius to maximize fuel economy. If the part did not come stock on it, chances are I won't use it.
If I were to change my wheels, I would do a newer generation Prius wheel. They are designed for the car, have the same bore size, bolt pattern, and make an aging Prius look refreshed.
So will changing wheels on your Prius cause a drop in MPG? Yes, it can which is the main reason over everything I decided not to go aftermarket.
Also something important to note which a good friend of mine pointed out to me, wind tunnel testing. You can see his notes on there here.
What have you all done with your Prius for wheels? Drop me a pic on Twitter @the_hybrid_guy.
That is all for today; thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next article. By the way... here is what Prius I think has the best resale value.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.