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Mustang Tires - A Buyer's Guide

Written By: Andrew Cilio

A simple buyer's guide to help you select the right tires for your Ford Mustang. Find the information on width, sidewall, and sizing you need to make an informed purchase. Our tire size calculator will help you solve fitment and spacing issues.

Mustang Tire Fitment

Mustang Tire Fitment Box On-Site

Buying the right tires for your Ford Mustang is just as important as buying the right wheel. AmericanMuscle.com has made that decision simple for you, too! In every wheel description, we list the best tire fitment. In the picture, it is circled in red.

A lot of Mustang owners ask us why they should buy the tire size that we recommend. It’s a good question – and there are a lot of reasons – but the most important reason is because it will offer you the perfect amount of safety, handling, and sidewall protection. A helpful tool to simplify this process is our own tire size calculator which you can find here

Chart: S550 (2015-2018) Wheel & Tire Fitment

Tire Size Rim Size Comments Placement Sidewall Diameter Circumference Revs per Mile
235/55-17 17x8   Front & Rear 5.1" 27.2" 85.4" 742
255/50-17 17x9   Front & Rear 5.0" 27.0" 84.9" 746
295/45-17 17x10   Rear 5.2" 27.5" 86.2" 735
235/50-18 18x8   Front & Rear 4.6" 27.3" 85.6" 740
255/45-18 18x9   Front & Rear 4.5" 27.0" 84.9" 746
275/40-18 18x10   Rear 4.3" 26.7" 83.8" 756
285/40-18 18x10   Rear 4.5" 27.0" 84.7" 748
305/35-18 18x10 Your speedometer reading will be off by 2.3%. When your speedometer reads 60 mph you are actually doing 58.6 mph. Rear 4.2" 26.4" 83.0" 764
245/45-19 19x8.5   Front & Rear 4.3" 27.7" 87.0" 729
275/40-19

19x10

  Rear 4.3" 27.7" 86.9" 729
255/35-20 20x8.5   Front & Rear 3.5" 27.0" 84.9" 746
285/30-20 20x10   Rear 3.4" 26.7" 84.0" 754

Chart: S197 (2005-2014) Wheel & Tire Fitment

Tire Size Rim Size Comments Placement Sidewall Diameter Circumference Revs per Mile
235/55-17 17x8   Front & Rear 5.1" 27.2" 85.4" 742
255/50-17 17x9   Front & Rear 5.0" 27.0" 84.9" 746
295/45-17 17x10   Rear 5.2" 27.5" 86.2" 735
235/50-18 18x8   Front & Rear 4.6" 27.3" 85.6" 740
255/45-18 18x9   Front & Rear 4.5" 27.0" 84.9" 746
275/40-18 18x10   Rear 4.3" 26.7" 83.8" 756
285/40-18 18x10   Rear 4.5" 27.0" 84.7" 748
305/35-18 18x10 Your speedometer reading will be off by 2.3%. When your speedometer reads 60 mph you are actually doing 58.6 mph. Rear 4.2" 26.4" 83.0" 764
245/45-19 19x8.5   Front & Rear 4.3" 27.7" 87.0" 729
275/40-19

19x9.5,

19x10

  Rear (19x9.5 can be used on the front) 4.3" 27.7" 86.9" 729
255/35-20 20x8.5   Front & Rear 3.5" 27.0" 84.9" 746
285/30-20 20x10   Rear 3.4" 26.7" 84.0" 754

Chart: S95 (1999-2004) Wheel & Tire Fitment

Tire Size Rim Size Notes Placement Sidewall Diameter Circumference Revs per Mile
225/55-16 16x7.5 Stock on the front of GTs Front (GT) 4.9" 25.8" 81" 782
245/50-16 16x8   Front & Rear 4.8" 25.6" 80.6" 786
245/45-17 17x8 Can be used on 17x9 rims as well Front & Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.7" 785
255/40-17 17x9 Your speedometer reading will be off by 2.5%. When your speedometer reads 60 mph you'll actually be doing 58.5 mpg Front & Rear 4.0" 25.0" 78.6" 806
275/40-17 17x9   Front & Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.6" 786
315/35-17 17x10.5   Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.7" 785
245/40-18 18x9 Great for drivers who upgraded to 18" rims, but don't want a wider than stock tire set Front & Rear 3.9" 25.7" 80.8" 784
265/35-18 18x9 Your speedometer reading will be off by 1.5%. When you speedometer reads 60 mph you are actually doing 59.1 mph Front & Rear 3.7" 25.3" 79.5" 797
275/35-18 18x9   Front & Rear 3.8" 25.6" 80.4" 788
285/35-18 18x10   Rear 3.9" 25.9" 81.2" 780
305/35-18 18x10 Your speedometer reading will be off by 2.8%. When your speedometer reads 60 mph you are actually doing 61.7 mph Rear 4.2" 26.4" 83.0" 764
235/35-19 19x8.5   Front & Rear 3.2" 25.5" 80.0" 792
245/30-20 20x8.5   Front & Rear 2.9" 25.8" 81.0" 782

Chart: S95(1994-1998) Wheel & Tire Fitment

Tire Size Rim Size Comments Placement Sidewall Diameter Circumference Revs per Mile
245/50-16 16x8   Front & Rear 4.8" 25.6" 80.6" 786
245/45-17 17x8 Can also be used on 17x9 rims Front & Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.7" 785
255/40-17 17x9   Front & Rear 4.0" 25.0" 78.6" 806
275/40-17 17x9 Rubbing can be an issue if used as a front tire Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.6" 786
315/35-17 17x10.5   Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.7" 785
245/40-18 18x9 Great for drivers who upgraded to 18" rims, but don't want a wider than stock tire Front & Rear 3.9" 25.7" 80.8" 784
265/35-18 18x9   Front & Rear 3.7" 25.3" 79.5" 797
275/35-18 18x9 Rubbing can be an issue if used as a front tire Rear 3.8" 25.6" 80.4" 788
285/35-18 18x10   Rear 3.9" 25.9" 81.2" 780
305/35-18 18x10 Your speedometer reading will be off by 2.8%. When your speedometer reads 60 mph you are actually doing 61.7 mph Rear 4.2" 26.4"

83.0"

764
235/35-19 19x8.5   Front & Rear 3.2" 25.5" 80.0" 792
245/30-20 20x8.5   Front & Rear 2.9" 25.8" 81.0" 782

Chart: Fox Body (1987-1993) Wheel & Tire Fitment

Tire Size Rim Size Placement Sidewall Diameter Circumference Revs per Mile Notes
225/55-16 16x7 Front & Rear 4.9" 25.7" 80.9" 783  
245/50-16 16x8 Front & Rear 4.8" 25.6" 80.6" 786  
245/45-17

17x8,

17x9

Front & Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.7" 785  
255/40-17 17x9 Rear 4.0" 25.0" 78.6" 806 Rubbing is an issue if used as a front tire
275/40-17 17x9, 17x10 Rear 4.3" 25.7" 80.6" 786 Rubbing is an issue if used as a front tire

Mustang Tires by the Numbers

In order to understand why it's dangerous to not buy the recommended tire size, you need to understand what each of the numbers related to sizing means. Tire sizes are listed in three numbers, for example 205/55/16.

  • 205: The first number is the width of the tire in mm (205mm)
  • 55 (Aspect Ratio): The second number is the sidewall height as a percentage of the width. In this example, the sidewall is 55% of the 205mm, or 112.75mm
  • 16 (Wheel Diameter): The third number is the diameter of the wheel (rim) in inches

How Aspect Ratio Affect Your Ride

When buying a rim that's larger than stock, you must change the aspect ratio of the tire too. This will keep your speedometer reading correctly. When you “upsize” your wheel, the aspect ratio will be smaller than stock. This gives your wheels and tires a wider contact patch, improving cornering ability. Using a smaller than recommended aspect ratio means you have less rubber to absorb impact which can damage your rim. It also reduces the amount of contact your tires have with the road. Using a larger than recommended aspect ratio increases ride height, and will make your speedometer read slower than you're actually traveling. It can also cause rubbing in the wheel wells. It affects steering stability and will make your car feel floaty when cornering. 

How do I Adjust My Speedo for Bigger Tires?

From years 1979-1998, changing the speedometer requires changing teeth in the speedo/transmission or both. However, from 1999-2017, fixing the speedometer is as simple as uploading a new tune with the correct tire size selected. Not only does this correct the speedometer, but also the odometer itself.

Mustang Speedometer and Tachometer

Physical Characteristics of a Tire Explained

One of the biggest ways to improve your car’s cornering power both on and off the track is choosing the right tire for your application. The more traction or grip a tire produces, the faster your car will be able to go around corners. It’s also well understood every tire has a finite amount of traction it can provide before it starts to slip. There are many factors that determine a tire’s grip level, starting with how soft and sticky the compound is, but other design elements like carcass construction, sidewall stiffness, tread block design, tire pressure, and temperature also play significant roles. 

Tread Blocks: These large blocks of rubber are the contact point between the road and the tire. The larger the tread block, the better the traction is. However, large tread blocks tend to produce more road noise than smaller ones, but because of their large contact area, they’re stiffer and less prone to vibration and chunking under aggressive driving conditions. Medium to small-sized tread blocks are commonly found on all-season and wet performance oriented tires, whereas summer only tires usually rely on large, stiff tread blocks for their superior dry-handling characteristics.

Sipes: These are slits in the tread blocks that aid traction in wet and snowy weather conditions. They are most common on winter tires, but many all-season tires incorporate them as well. Sipes provide an increase in biting edges when they expand and open up on contact, helping evacuate slush, snow, or water from the treads, thereby increasing available grip. Sipes compromise handling performance, though, since they can make a tire feel squirmy and vague in warm, dry conditions. That’s why you won’t find them on any Ultra-High performance (UHP) summer or track oriented tires.

Grooves: Much like sipes, grooves help improve traction in wet weather. They are the main channels in a tire that help evacuate water quickly and effectively, reducing the chances of hydroplaning. The deeper and more numerous the grooves are, the greater wet performance you can expect out of a tire.

Radial Plies & Steel Belts: The internal structure of a tire consists of radial plies and steel belts. The interwoven construction of these two materials is what gives tires their strength, stiffness, and durability. When a tire is put under load, the radial plies and steel belts are what resist these forces and help the tire maintain its shape and remain in constant contact with the road. Another benefit of these elements is tires run cooler and are less susceptible to punctures and blowouts. The only real drawback is weight. The more material used usually helps aid tire stability and stiffness but adds weight to the tire, which in turn adds unsprung mass to the car.

Sidewall: Sidewall construction is important to performance because a stiffer sidewall will provide more control, faster turn-in response, and a more responsive feel over the road. This highly responsive feel is ideal for enthusiasts, but can be a nerve racking for comfort seeking drivers since stiff sidewalls tend to be unforgiving and snappy in nature. Sidewall stiffness also plays an important role in ride quality. Obviously, the softer the sidewall, the more comfortable a tire will feel (and vice versa). The same goes for sidewall height. A low-profile tire will be less forgiving to bumps and holes in the road versus a taller one, but a tall sidewall is prone to more roll and is therefore going to reduce turn-in response and steering feel.

Mustang Tire Widths

A wider rear tire will affect the way the car turns though so that is something to keep in mind. If you have a set of winter tires they should be narrower because they will do better in the snow. Skinnier tires will cut through the snow whereas wide tires will kind of just sit on top of it. Using too wide a tire will push the sidewalls out, giving the tire what is known as the "drag tire" look. If you do this on a non-drag tire, there are several things that can happen:

  • A poor bead seal is created
  • The tread is forced into a convex shape, which reduces the tire life. It also affects steering and handling capability
  • The car will feel floaty
  • The speedometer will read slower than the car is actually going

Using a tire that is too skinny pulls the sidewalls past the wheel lip. Besides creating the “ricer” look, it is also very dangerous. Too skinny a tire can cause the tire to separate from the rim if you’re going to fast, or while turning a corner.

Mustang Falken Tire

Mustang Tire Brands

Sumitomo: We have four types of Sumitomo tires:

  • HTR Z - These are Sumitomo's High Performance Summer tire. A high performance tire, they are designed to give the driver confident performance in both wet and dry conditions. With a direction V tread pattern, the HTR Z aggressively plows water out of the way, preventing hydroplaning in dangerous weather conditions. These tires also have a solid center rib that helps deliver direction stability, even on the most heavily grooved roads. Added to that, the HTR Z delivers a smooth ride with very little road noise. These are Z rated tires and are not meant to be driven in freezing temperatures.
  • HTR Z II - This is an ultra High Performance Summer tire. These tires can almost sense how they should perform in wet and dry conditions, as well as on and off the track. The HTR Z II has extra wide, arched treads that deliver incredible traction and handling. These tires provide excellent hydroplaning resistance and predictable handling, all while being light weight and low profile.
  • HTR Z III - This is Sumitomo's New Max Performance Summer Tire. Designed with a 3-D wave wall that increases drainage capabilities and reinforces center rib stability. Five rib asymmetric tread pattern merges cornering with straight line stability delivering high-speed stamina and predictable handling. The HTR Z III Series Tires deliver a smooth ride with minimal road noise. Y-speed rating for true high-performance vehicles.
  • HTR - This is Sumitomo's High Performance All-Season tire. Delivering traction throughout the seasons, this tire delivers high speed durability and handling. This V-rated tire has hydroplaning resistance in all weather and delivers a smooth ride with very little road noise.

Nitto: We have two types of Nitto tires:

  • NT555 - Whether you have a daily driver or a track car, this tire is perfect for you The NT555 has incredible traction and reliable handling, as well as one of the biggest contact patches available. The grooves and channels reduce your chances of hydroplaning in wet weather, helping this tire deliver total vehicle control.
  • NT555R - These are Nitto's DOT approved drag radial. Legal for the street, and they don't require replacing every 1500-3000 miles! With this tire on your Mustang, you will have impressive control and handling, and still get up to 15,000 miles of tread life when used on a daily driver.

Sumitomo & Nitto Mustang Tires All Mustang Tires

Choosing the Right Tires for Racing

Drag Racing: For this style of racing it's best to use a drag radial, street slick, or full slick. Full slicks are not street legal so I would recommend either trailering the car to the track or bringing an extra set of wheels with the slicks mounted on them. Drag radials are the most street friendly out of the three but can be dangerous in the rain and on really cold days. These tires are made with a much softer compound than street tires which allows them to get stickier after they have been warmed up, and they provide a little bit of give when launching which is ideal. Due to the soft compound these tires will not last long driving around on the street. Also, it's good to have a bigger sidewall when drag racing to allow the tire to “collapse” when launching. So because of this it is very popular to run a 15 inch diameter wheel in the back to allow for more tire and less rim.

Autocross/Road Racing: If you are just beginning to participate in this kind of racing then I would suggest using a good street tire to get the hang out of. You will learn more about how the car reacts this way before you move up to a drag radial or slick tire. For this style you will want to go with a softer compound tire as well because they will stay warm and will “give” instead of spinning under acceleration on turns. It’s hard to say one tire is better than the other because your personal preferences matter a lot here.

Speed Rating - How Fast Can Your Tires Go?

Speed rating on a tire is a risky business in regards of exceeding the rating. Speed ratings are what manufacturers have tested the specific tire in regards to overall speed. The higher the rating, the faster the tire can turn without having potential blowout issues. Ratings can vary greatly, from low 100 MPH to high 100 MPH. While exceeding the speed rating with a tire is not necessarily instant blowout, they have not been tested/had safe results of the testing. If a tire is going faster than the rating, it has the potential to be problematic as it is venturing into uncharted territory.

Chart: Speed Rating

Grade Speed Rating Comments
B Up to 31 mph  Ideal for Mustangs that are trailered to events/experience minimal driving
C 37 mph
D 40 mph
E 43 mph
F 50 mph
G 56 mph
J 62 mph
K 68 mph
L 75 mph Driving Style, Local Laws, & Personal Safety should be considered when selecting tires; especially those selected for daily use
M 81 mph
N 87 mph
P 94 mph
Q 100 mph
R 106 mph
S 112 mph
T 118 mph
U 124 mph
H 130 mph
V 149 mph
W 168 mph
Y 186 mph
Z 149 mph and over

Mustang Tire Tread Wear - What You Need To Know

Tread wear happens the moment your tires go into motion on your Mustang; the more miles you put on your Mustang the more the tires/tread will wear down, causing you to need new tires. While some tire compounds will allow you to get more mileage out of your tires while performance/summer tires will wear out more quickly than all season tires. Aside from normal daily driving, there are a few different ways you can cause pre-mature tire wear, which includes:

  • Improper Inflation - Having your tires over-inflated or under-inflated will cause the tread to wear in an abnormal fashion.
  • Poor Alignment - Not having the proper tire alignment will cause uneven tread wear and have you replacing your tires earlier than typically needed.
  • Burnouts/Racing  - While doing a smokey burnout may be a no-brainer for tirewear, racing your Mustang (at the strip or on a road course) will cause your tread to wear out sooner than you expected.

Using Uniform Tire Quality Grade standards (UTQG), a manufacturer assigns a number to the tire representing its wear characteristic. This number is printed on the sidewall. The problem is every tire manufacturer sets its own treadwear rating, meaning a 300 treadwear on one tire can still have a longer lifespan than a 300 treadwear rating listed on a different tire.

Despite this discrepancy, treadwear rating is a good overall indicator of the type of performance you can expect out of a tire. 100 UTQG and below usually means the tire is meant for track duty, and even though it can be driven on the street, the rate at which it wears will be very high. A 100–200 UTQG rating will still provide ample grip with an acceptable wear life on the street and 200–350 UTQG tires are longer lasting, but give up some dry grip as a result. This is amplified even more with 350 UTQG tires, which can provide exceptionally long tread life, but it’s at the expense of dry traction. Typically, any tire rated over 350 UTQG will overheat quickly and lose grip when pushed beyond its design limits during aggressive driving on a track.

What is Scrub Radius & Why is it Important?

Looking at the tires from the front of the vehicle, the scrub radius is the distance between the king pin axis and the center of the contact patch of the wheel where both would theoretically touch the road. The king pin axis is the line between the upper and lower ball joints of the hub. This can specificially be important for auto cross competitions and road course racing. As far as drag racing, it can allow for a change in weight transfer and contact on the tread patch.

Nitrogen vs. Air for Your Mustang's Tires

Water plays a major role in deciding between nitrogen and air. Gas stations and other areas that provide compressed air rarely filter out water which then makes its way inside your tire. As you can assume, fluids do not compress (which is why hydraulics work the way they do), so filling your tire with any H2O is not ideal. On the other hand, nitrogen is transported in a completely dry state which means no chance of water intrusion.

  • Air within a tire creates more water build-up and thus deteriorates the rim and tire faster when compared to nitrogen
  • Purified nitrogen is more stable and less corrosive than a compressed version of the air we breathe
  • Nitrogen clumps together, which makes it harder to seep out, and therefore your tires will have to be filled less frequently, especially with fluctuations in temperature

Why is Having Water in Your Tires a Bad Thing?

Water, present as a vapor or even as a liquid in a tire, causes more of a pressure change with temperature swings than dry air does. This leads to filling your Mustang’s tires with air more often, especially during times of drastic climate change. It also promotes corrosion of the steel or aluminum rim of your Mustang. Purified nitrogen is more stable and less corrosive than a compressed version of the air we breathe. By its lonesome, nitrogen clumps in large molecules and thus is less able to seep out and you’ll not have to inflate your tires as much. Even better, it's not oxygen (which is the root cause of oxidation) which eats rubber just like steel, just not as dramatically or visibly. Last thing to consider: Oxygen molecules exit through your tires grains in the rubber and also through the side walls without detection overtime much easier than nitrogen does due to the larger nitrogen molecules.

Choosing Between Nitrogen and Oxygen

Filling your Mustang's tires with nitrogen will have benefits like a smoother ride, having to fill your tires less often, corrosion preventive measures, and more consistent pressures in variant temperatures. The age-old question still remains: is it really worth it? The answer comes down to what you’re looking to get out of your Mustang. For the Mustang enthusiast who daily drives a stock car and doesn’t mind filling up the tires to the proper PSI now and then, it's a nice luxury but not essential to the rigors of daily driving. However the performance minded Mustang owner who wants constant and stable pressures when at the track may find a greater need for nitrogen over air. It is also good to keep in mind some stations may charge more to fill per tire because they do not have an individual nitrogen refilling system. Rather, they have to filter out the oxygen molecules from their existing tank which can become pricey.

Properly Inflating Your Mustang's Tires is Key

Proper inflation is the real issue. Under inflated tires reduce your Mustang's gas mileage and flatten out, creating more surface area and thus adding friction. This will make the engine work harder and burn more fuel. The extra friction and resulting heat also increases the chance of a blowout. A properly inflated tire is always safer and more efficient than under inflated tires. If you take your Mustang to the track and you are still using air, remember to re-inflate them to the proper PSI before driving on the open road.

Benefits of Nitrogen

  • Improves gas mileage
  • Resists temperature changes to keep tire pressure stable
  • Provides more consistent handling
  • Nitrogen's larger molecules leak much slower than air
  • Protects your tires & wheels from oxidation and decay
  • Nitrogen is lighter than air
  • Used for decades in race tires, tractor trailer tires, aircraft, & military applications

So to sum it all up, yes there are several benefits of using nitrogen in your tires. If you have an opportunity to have them filled for a decent price there is little reason against doing so. For the daily driven Mustang, good old air will still do the trick. If you’re still worried about water consider buying your own compressor with a water filtration system.

Can I Add Air Even Though I Already Have Nitrogen?

Yes, you can add nitrogen once air has already been added to a tire. The primary benefit of utilizing nitrogen over traditional air is nitrogen leaks slower than air does. Thus, if a leak was to form, the leak would take more time to lose the same psi if filled with nitrogen. Therefore, having the nitrogen added after the air or later is acceptable, just make sure the tire is not over spec for pressure.

Chart: Tire Load Rating

Load Index Pounds Kilograms
71 761 345
72 783 355
73 805 365
74 827 375
75 853 387
76 882 400
77 908 412
78 937 437
79 963 437
80 992 450
81 1019 462
82 1047 475
83 1074 487
84 1102 500
85 1135 515
86 1168 530
87 1201 545
88 1235 560
89 1279 580
90 1323 600
91 1356 615
92 1389 630
93 1433 650
94 1477 670
95 1521 690
96 1565 710
97 1609 730
98 1653 750
99 1709 775
100 1764 800
101 1819 825
102 1874 850
103 1929 875
104 1984 900
105 2039 925
106 2094 950
107 2149 975
108 2205 1000
109 2271 1030
110 2337 1060
Fitment includes: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, GT, V6, Cobra, ShelbyGT500, Mach1, Bullitt, Boss, LX, SVO, EcoBoost, ShelbyGT350