Tire Size 215/55r17 vs 215/50r17

The main difference between the tire sizes 215/55r17 and 215/50r17 is their sidewall height. The 215/55r17 tire has a larger sidewall height and diameter, making it slightly larger than the 215/50r17.

Specifically, the sidewall height is 0.42 inches (10.75 mm) greater, and the overall diameter is 0.85 inches (21.5 mm) larger. This difference impacts the number of revolutions per mile, with the larger tire making fewer revolutions due to its increased size.

215/55r17 vs 215/50r17

The table compares the features of tire sizes 215/55R17 and 215/50R17, along with the percentage difference between them.

Feature 215/55r17 215/50r17 Difference
Diameter inches 26.31″ 25.46″ 0.85 (-21.5)
Width inches 8.46″ 8.46″ 0 (0) 0%
Circumference 82.66″ 80″ 2.66 (67.54)
Sidewall Height 4.66″ 4.23″ 0.42 (10.75)
Revolutions 766.53 792.01 25.48
Rim Size 17″ 17″ Same
Rim Width Range 6.0-7.5″ 6.0-7.5″ Same

Overall Diameter
The diameter of the 215/55r17 tire is 26.31 inches (668.3 mm), while that of the 215/50r17 tire is 25.46 inches (646.8 mm), making the former 3.2% larger. Larger tires provide more ground clearance, which is beneficial for off-road driving or navigating rough terrain. The increased tire height also results in a lower speedometer reading, meaning you might be going faster than your dashboard indicates.

In contrast, the smaller diameter of the 215/50r17 tire reduces ground clearance, potentially risking damage to your vehicle when driving over obstacles or rough roads. The decrease in tire height also results in a higher speedometer reading.

Section Width
Interestingly, both tires have the same width, measuring 8.46 inches (215 mm). Tire width plays a significant role in traction. A wider tread generally provides improved traction due to the larger contact patch with the road, enhancing acceleration, braking, and cornering.

However, wider tires may produce more road noise due to the larger contact area. In contrast, narrower tires may offer less grip, especially in wet or slippery conditions.

Sidewall Height
The 215/55r17 tire has a sidewall height of 4.66 inches (118.25 mm), which is 9.1% taller than the 215/50r17 tire at 4.23 inches (107.5 mm). A taller sidewall absorbs more bumps and road irregularities, offering a smoother ride. Additionally, it can enhance traction on snowy or icy roads.

Conversely, a tire with a smaller sidewall, like the 215/50r17, can result in a harsher ride due to reduced cushioning. However, it may give your vehicle a sportier and more aggressive look.

The 215/55r17 tire has a circumference of 82.66 inches (2099.53 mm), 3.2% larger than the 215/50r17 tire at 80 inches (2031.98 mm). A larger circumference will result in a lower speedometer reading. Conversely, a tire with a smaller circumference will result in a higher speedometer reading.

Revolutions Per Mile

The 215/50r17 tire spins more frequently, with 792.01 revolutions per mile (492.13 per km), which is 3.3% more than the 215/55r17 tire at 766.53 revolutions per mile (476.3 per km). Higher RPM typically means more wear due to increased friction with the road, which could shorten the tire’s lifespan.

A tire with fewer revolutions per mile, like the 215/55r17, covers less distance in each rotation, potentially extending its lifespan due to reduced wear and tear.

Rim Size
Both tire sizes are designed to fit 17″ rims with a rim width range of 6.0-7.5 inches. While maintaining the same tire diameter, larger rims often lead to a sportier and more aggressive look, whereas smaller rims can provide a more classic or conservative appearance.

How much taller is a 215/55r17 tire than a 215/50r17?

The height of a 215/55r17 tire is approximately 26.31 inches (668.3 mm), while the height of a 215/50r17 tire is roughly 25.46 inches (646.8 mm). As a result, the 215/55r17 tire is around 0.85 inches (or 21.5 mm) taller than the 215/50r17 tire.

How much wider is a 215/55r17 tire than a 215/50r17?

The width of both the 215/55r17 and 215/50r17 tires is 8.46 inches (215 mm). This suggests that there is no width difference between these two tires, as their width is identical at 0 inches (or 0 mm).

Can I use 215/55r17 instead of 215/50r17?

When comparing the overall diameter of the 215/55r17 and 215/50r17 tires, there is a difference of about 0.85 inches (or 21.5 mm), translating to approximately -3.2%. This variation is slightly more than the recommended maximum of 3% difference.

Although the tires are relatively similar, using tires that differ in diameter by more than 3% is typically not advisable. Hence, using a 215/55r17 tire instead of a 215/50r17 might not be recommended.

Can I put a 215/55r17 on a 215/50r17?

The 215/55r17 and 215/50r17 tires are compatible with a rim width range of 6.0-7.5″. Therefore, it is possible to mount a 215/55r17 tire on a rim that originally held a 215/50r17 tire, given the identical rim width range.

Our Observation
The comparison shows that although these two tire sizes are very close in measurements, the slight variations can impact performance, aesthetics, and wear rate. The 215/55r17 tire, with its larger diameter, taller sidewall, and lower revolutions per mile, provides more ground clearance and a potentially longer lifespan. It is ideal for those who prefer smoother rides and must navigate challenging terrain.

The 215/50r17, on the other hand, with a smaller diameter and shorter sidewall, offers a sportier look and feel. It might wear out quicker due to higher RPM, but it offers higher ground responsiveness, which can be a plus for those who value precise handling and a sporty driving experience.

Thus, the choice between these two tire sizes should be based on your driving preferences, road conditions, and the kind of experience you want from your vehicle.

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