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Marc Colen
Marc Colen, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 9
Experience:  25 years experience, state and federal litigation, intellectual property, business law.
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While vacationing in AZ in the spring of 2008 my wife and I

Resolved Question:

While vacationing in AZ in the spring of 2008 my wife and I decided to trade vehicles. The Nissan Pathfinder that caught our attention was decked out with many exterior accesaries, including beautiful 22 inch chrome wheels. Before and after our purchase we were given an opportunity to drive the vehicle. We complained immediatly each time because the car wandered all over the road and seemed to take the wheel out of your hand when hitting road ruts. It soon became commom knowledge that this car was not made for the fancy oversized wheels they used to show and sell it. Every experiment, ie , 4 lesser sets of wheels in three weeks ended the same. Total driving disatification, with company assurance that all would be made PERFECT. It never happened. They were unable to correct the problem with any special wheels. We are now back in Ia. with a vehicle that drives badly and looks nothing like what we purchased. Also. the lease goes for 29 more months. Thank You for your thoughts.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Marc Colen replied 8 years ago.
Good Morning,

As an engineer and member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and having represented such automobile manufacturers as General Motors, I believe that I can provide you with a viable answer. The first thing to look at is the Owner's Manual that came with the automobile. It will doubtless state what the wheel sizes and rim sizes are correct and will note that any other size may cause problems. Also, there should be a sticker in the side of the driver's side door or in the door frame that states what the recommended sizes are.

There are several relevant problems with oversize wheels. First, as the circumference of the tire increases the amount of torque necessary to accelerate the automobile increases. Depending on the torque curve of the engine the vehicle can appear sluggish.

Second, the suspension is designed for specific tire circumferences and a larger circumference will destroy the design integrity of the suspension causing all kinds of problems.

Third, the automobile needs cushioning by way of flexion of a tire. If the tire is a 70 series with lots of rubber to flex, the tire will absorb a lot of the impact of driving. On the other hand, if the tire is a 20 series then the amount of flex is miniscule. All vertical and horizontal motion is transfered is transferred to the suspension, which is not designed for that.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that if you maintain the best possible ride integrity, stay with the sizes that the manufacturer specifies and if you insist on chrome wheels, don't go to extremes and try to get as close to the recommended tire circumference as you can.

While there is a possibility that your particular vehicle is defective, it is unlikely and you will likely have no recourse against the manufacturer - and they are very unlikely to do anything when you have performed what the manual and they will say is an illegal "modification." You have a valid lawsuit against the dealer but in another state that is unlikely to be financial worthwhile for you - you would have to sue where the defendant is - the dealership location and not where you live.

My suggestion is to consider immediately replace the 22 inch wheels with size recommended - chrome will be available - in the size, or at least very close to size - say 19 inch with 18 inch rims - talk to a tire dealer about this problem. It is highly likely that the problem will go away. You may be able to trade in what you have for the new ones. They may not look as nice but that's what the vehicle was designed for. Next, if you lost any money make a demand on the AZ dealer. It is very unlikely they will reply. You can then contact Nissan and tell them about the fraud and also inform the AZ licensing agency for automotive dealerships. One or the other should be able to get any financial loss you have suffered.

I've had lots of large trucks and large large SUVS [before switching to compacts!] and never have I put on large wheels even when I could get them free.

I hope that provides you with the answer you need. If you have any questions, let me know.           

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