Updated: Oct 16, 2021
A common question I get asked is “should I get a wide body-kit for my car?”.
The answer is, of course, it depends.
I’ve seen a lot of cars with widebody kits, and they look great. But there are a lot of factors to consider before making the decision to install wider arches.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Wide-Body Kit?
A wide-body kit is usually a pre-made kit designed for specific vehicles.
The primary practical use is that it enables you to have wider wheels for greater grip. Some of them are also aerodynamic in design.
They were initially employed on rear-wheel-drive vehicles and afterwards on front-wheel-drive cars.
Afterwards, they began to be used for show purposes due to their attractive appearance; however, certain vehicles still need them due to their larger wheels.
They are usually made from fibreglass or a type of plastic, such as ABS.
Sometimes, in higher-end wide-body kits, carbon fibre is used in their construction.
Benefits of a Wide-Body Kit & Wider Arches
A wide-body kit can have several advantages, providing they're used in the right way and setup correctly.
Some of the benefits of wider arches are listed below.
Due to the wider width of a wide-body kit you can fit wider wheels increasing the cars track width.
This increased track width and wheel width can increase the cars grip and traction due to increased tyre surface area.
Improved grip translates into better track times and cornering speeds, providing the suspension is setup properly.
A wider track width as a result of wider wheels will increase high-speed and overall vehicle stability.
This improved stability will benefit the car mostly when at high-speeds but it will reduce the steering sensitivity of the vehicle at low speeds equally.
With wider arches comes a wider track width, this increases the stability like explained above.
However, it also reduces body roll (similarly to sway bars).
This enhances cornering and high-speed stability as there is less weight transfer between each side of the vehicle.
Of course, a wide-body kit looks Amazon on almost all cars.
It creates a more aggressive and "stanced" look.
However, it is personal preference when it comes to wider arches.
Drawbacks of a Wide-Arch Kit
Like all car modifications, there are some disadvantages associated with a wide-arch kit, as listed below.
Some of the handling drawbacks of wider track width as a result of wider arches can be overcome by changing the suspension setup or staggering the track width between the front and rear.
Altered Handling & Reduced Steering Sensitivity
Wider track width and wider wheels as a result of a wide-body kit can cause profoundly different handling than a standard car.
It can reduce the steering sensitivity and alter many characteristics of a cars handling.
You may find staggering the track widths differently at the front and rear of the car can improve the steering response, depending on what you're after.
However, a wider car will feel completely different than the stock setup.
Reduced Fuel Economy
Wider arches also reduce the economy of the car due to 2 reasons.
Increased rolling resistance due to wider tyres.
Increased air drag to a wider car.
Increasing the tyre width will increase rolling resistance due to a larger contact patch between the tyre and road surface.
A larger car with more surface area will also increase the air drag, especially at higher speeds.
This increased rolling resistance and air drag will result in lower fuel economy and mpg.
More Expensive Tyres
Of course, with wider tyres come more expensive tyres.
This is something you may want to consider when buying a wide-body kit.
With a wide-body kit you will either need to purchase wider wheels or wheel spacers to fill the arch gap, wider wheels are the recommended, but more expensive option, though.
Remember, you will likely have to upgrade your current springs and dampers to coilovers to cope with the extra stress, this can also get very expensive.
You may consider just fitting stiffer springs, you may wish to read this article comparing coilovers and lowering springs.
Extra Stress On Suspension Components
When fitting a wide-body kit, whether using larger wheels or wheel spacers, the standard suspension components such as the wheel bearings, control arms, springs and dampers will encounter extra stress.
When there is improved grip from wider wheels, the driveshafts will also be put under higher stress than stock.
Harder to Park & Takes up More Room
A wider car with wider arches and wheels will take up more space on the road.
This wider stance will make parking or driving on narrow roads harder.
Usually, people also lower their car when they install a wide-body kit.
Therefore, more caution must be taken when daily driving a wide-body kit car.
Lowering your car has several benefits and drawbacks, click here to learn more about them.
May Have to Cut Stock Arches
Depending on how low you want your car to be, how wide your wheels will be or what tyre profile you're after, you may have to cut, grind down or roll out your stock arches in order to avoid scraping your wheels.
This is a major modification that will cause damage to a stock car and look terrible if the wide arches are removed at a later date.
The other option to cutting thew arches is to roll them out; however, this can cause cracked paint and damage, sometimes it may also conflict with the wide-body kit and its fitment.
Should You Get Wider Arches?
The decision to get a wide-body kit with wider arches is entirely personal.
However, if you're using the car as a daily drive car then it's recommended to keep the standard body kit.
Remember, installing wider wheels and for a wider track width can have positive effects on handling but also many negative effects such as the following.
Reduced fuel economy
Reduced steering sensitivity
Harder to park and use narrow roads
More expensive tyres and components
Wide-body kits are better suited to show cars and track use or racing cars.
Based on the drawbacks and benefits of a wide-body kit, I would say unless you're after profoundly different handling and use the car for track days or racing then a wide arch kit is not the best idea.
However, if you do use the car for track days or racing then a wide arch kit may be a good idea.
Usually, a wider wheel and tyre is fitted along with the wider arches, this is where the handling benefits come into effect.
A wider track width and tyre contact patch can enhance high-speed stability and traction and reduce body-roll.
In contrary, wider tyres and arches can increase air drag and rolling resistance, reducing fuel economy and mpg.
They can also increase tyre cost, stress on the suspension and make driving around the town or narrow country roads difficult due to reduced steering sensitivity, a larger turning radius and a wider car.
Overall, a wide-body kit is great for high-performance racing cars and bad for daily-driving cars.