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I am a complete physics dunce so go easy on me, I can wrap my mind around the basic concepts but I need help with this particular proble,.

What I'm trying to do is figure out how much torque is lost or gained by changing wheels on a car.

I assume we need to ignore the front two wheels and focus merely on the drive wheels, though I'm sure there's some loses or gains to be seen from the front wheels (non drive) as well.

The first question, is how the rim size alone effects torque output. Here's what I have been thinking would be a good estimate of this:

- Assuming the tire weight is 22lbs regardless of the rim size being 17" in diameter or 18" in diameter (which is plausible according to my measurements).

- I assume that by moving the 22lbs out .5" away from the center (which I assume to be the point of force) that if T = F x D then with a 17" diameter wheel I need 15.576ft-lbs to turn the wheel and with a 18" diameter wheel I now need 16.5ft-lbs. Is this assumption correct?

Next is while it is difficult to know how the weight of the wheel is distributed, can we estimate the loss caused by a heavier wheel in general? So for example, if I have a 17" diameter wheel that weighs 21lbs and one that weighs 13.5lbs can we estimate how much less force is needed (or 'freed up') to turn the lighter wheel? I assume the distribution of weight is similar if not the same.

I'd like to have a set of formulas that I could plug values in for

tw (tire weight)

rs (rim size in diameter)

ww (wheel weight)

for two different scenarios and figure out how much torque I'm losing or gaining by changing wheels/tires.

Then I get a little confused, torque is often measured 'at the wheels' (as that's what matters).... is it wrong to assume that I can simply say that a 5ft-lb torque gain at the wheels is going to be the same throughout the power band? Meaning, does that 5ft-lbs required to turn the wheel stay constant or does it increase/decrease as the wheel speed increases? I'm assuming that the wheel is accelerating throughout the entire scenario.

Finally, I'll explain what the application is so it's clear what I'm trying to do if my above isn't clear:

MOTIVATION: I want to be able to figure out in hard numbers if there's a benefit to switching wheels for the purposes of straight-line acceleration and 'gaining' (regaining) horsepower at the wheels. It is known that lighter wheels accelerate much faster and easier, but I want to know by how much exactly given two different wheels. This is primarily to asses whether or not modifications to a vehicle are cost effect or warranted.

Thanks guys for your help, and remember that I'm a complete physics idiot so be gentle with the explanations of how to do these calculations :). I took calculus and physics in college but I admittedly haven't used it directly in years :P.

Nathan