What is Tire Stretching? Is it Safe? Legal?

In the simplest terms, stretched tires are essentially fitting narrow tires onto wider wheels. Typically these stretches will range from 1 to 3 inches.

When you first hear the term tire stretching, or stretched tires, the first thought that pops into your mind is why? Why would someone want to stretch a tire? The answer is: because of the way they look.

Before you go onto the rest of this article, we want to make it abundantly clear that tire stretching offers no performance benefits and doing so is dangerous.

Are Stretched Tires Safe?

Stretching something over a surface that’s wider than is meant for can sound quite risky. With that said, safety highly depends on the amount of stretch you decide to use. Some of the most commonly reported issues are increased risks of blowouts, curbing the alloy, and deflating tires.

Tires are engineered so that the bead is 90 degrees perpendicular of the bead seat area. When you stretch tires this bead is not seated properly and this results in a poor seal. If you drive your vehicle rough or hit something like a pothole this can cause sudden tire deflation.

Needless to say, you shouldn’t go overboard with stretching, since it isn’t good for your tires durability. Tire stretching can cause irregular tread wear.

The Legality of Tire Stretching

Stretched tires have become quite popular over the last few years among car enthusiasts. In legal terms, it’s neither here nor there as it fits into a “grey” area since there is no concrete law against it. Before you stretch your tires, consider the state you live in and check the legality of doing so.

With that said you are bound to have some difficulty with your car insurance, especially if you don’t inform them of the modification. They may even reject/void your insurance and refuse to insure your vehicle.

If anything, keep the stretch minimal and look for acceptable ranges as per the tire manufacturer you are working with. Usually, they will have tire catalogs displaying guidelines.

For instance, both Nanking and Falken have their catalogs listed online.

Popular Tires for Stretching

Luckily websites like Tyrestretch.com exist. This site features an active community of Tire (Tyre) stretching enthusiasts and the members submit what they use for their vehicles.

According to their website, the most popular manufacturers are:

  • Nankang
  • Falken
  • TOYO
  • Dunlop
  • Bridgestone

Can You Stretch Your Own Tires?

The quick answer is yes. With that said, the first thing you should be aware of is that tire stretching at home is quite dangerous. Before you even consider trying it, you should have a fire extinguisher handy.

Our guide assumes you have already have your tire and wheel ready.

If you are completely green to this process,  consult this guide from Stance Works. The author, Alex, goes over various stages of stretching and different sizing. Stick to either stage 0 or stage 1 as these are acceptable “legal” ranges that manufacturers will have noted for wheel and tire sizes.

Steps to Perform a Tire Stretch

Note: We do not condone the process of mounting/stretching your own tires. Work on your vehicle at your own risk.

1. First, you should lay the tire and rim flat on your workspace. We would suggest using one of the popular brands above and stick to steel wheels.

2. Use a soap and water mixture and apply it to the bead of the tire with a spray applicator or paintbrush. This allows the tire to slip on with less friction.

3. A tire spoon is ideal in order to get the next bead over the rim, but a long flat head screwdriver can work as well.

4. Use a flammable substance and spray around the inner tire. We’ve seen options range from sprayable deodorant to brake cleaner.

5. Connect an air compressor to the tire.

6. Light the flammable substance you applied on the inner tire.

7. When the tire is beaded, compress to the correct PSI.

Below is a quick breakdown of this process.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of opinions when it comes to this topic, and it’s quite difficult to say who’s right. It all comes down to whether or not you are after the desired look of “slammed”, “hellaflush”, or “stanced.” With that said, it’s not easy to find a professional that is willing to do the job, and it’s risky to do it yourself.

Tires are a highly engineered product, and although they might look simple to consumers. It supports the weight of the vehicle along with the wheel and air in the tire. So, what you’re actually doing is altering that highly engineered product and pushing the sidewall and bead limits.

All in all, be cautious. Don’t endanger your life purely for aesthetics.


Richard Reed
I've been a General Manager of a moving company and I've also been a Professional Mover for over 30 years. I've driven flat beds, reefers, dropdecks, moving vans, heavy machinery, etc. In my time as a Mover I've driven over 1,000,000 safe miles. My days of moving and driving truck are past me but The Vehicle Lab allows me to share the knowledge I've gained over the past 40 years.
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