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225/45/17 vs. 205/60/16 tires/wheels

15242 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  chittychittybangbang
The 16" wheels that were on my car had the wrong offset because they were from a Passat which currently has winter tires and steelies on it. I bought some 17x7" wheels to replace them and while the offset barely fits, I think I like them better than the 16" wheels.

The old 16" wheels with 205/60/16 tires can be seen in this pic from one of the FAQ articles:

The new wheels are 17x7", et 54, and have 225/45/17 tires. They're pretty much bald and I plan to replace them with 225/50/17. This will be about the same size as the current 205/60/16 tires which are already about 3.5% larger rolling diameter and raise the car about 0.4".

Here is a closeup of the tire sidewall height. Going to a 50 aspect ratio should improve ride, raise it back up about .5", and return sidewall height to stock. The 205/60/16 were too floaty for me. I thought about going with a 215/55/17 but I think that will increase rolling diameter past where I want it to be. The wheels are VW classix aka classixs from a GTI/GLI, and barely fit due to the offset of 54. I would be more comfortable with an offset of 50 due to clearance in the rear. When on the ground, there's about 10mm of clearance between the inside tire and the fuel tank neck and fender liner. When jacked up, there was only about 4mm of clearance which had me very concerned before putting the car on the ground and checking clearance. They're stock VW wheels and I thought about using a spacer but because the rear is independent rear suspension, it moves a little closer when the car is jacked up and the suspension fully extended. When on the ground it's just OK.

Here is a shot showing wheel offset in the front. I would have liked an extra 3-4 mm to increase clearance between the rear wheels and the fender liner on the side of the fuel filler neck. There is a little space between the fuel filler neck and the fender liner but it's still fairly tight. Because these are stock VW wheels on GLI/GTI, I pretty much knew that they would fit. The rear wheel hub is tucked in a little more than the front wheels. The previous wheels were 16x7.5 et 38 and poked out by about 0.4". The stock wheels were 16x7" et50.
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Looks real nice...are they missing a center cap?
The center cap actually covers the entire center section. It's removed because I didn't want the tire techs to damage it.
I had some new 205/55/17 Hankook H105 Ventus V4 mounted. They're a performance oriented all season and had pretty good ratings except for snow performance. My other car is RWD and has wide summer tires. When it's freezing the tires are about as useful as hockey pucks. Any excess throttle while turning from a stop = drifting fun. Or terror depending on expectations.

The new tires are about the same in ride comfort as 225/45 but I wanted a little more sidewall for higher/softer ride. The difference is not very noticeable. It's not fair to make a straight comparison to the old tires or the last 16" wheel/tire because of price point, wheel change, sidewall height change, tread change, but here it is anyways. Compared to the michelin primacy the new tires are definitely noisier. I think part of this is the tread, stiffer sidewalls, and that michelins are usually pretty good tires. I believe the very high comfort rating I saw was comparing them to other performance tires and not comfort tires.

My main complaint is the section width. The old and new 17" tires were both 225 mm wide. The old tires had 1 finger width (not pinky but not quite thumb) of inside clearance against the fender liner at the fuel filler neck. The new tires are a different design and only +1 aspect ratio but has bulging sidewalls so it's now down to about 5mm of clearance. This is very tight. Some tires are just designed differently than others. Looking back I think 205/55/17 would have been a better choice. To make sure that there is no rubbing I put some chalk on the inside tire sidewalls and drove around. I also jacked up the car at the other side and corner to make sure suspension movement wouldn't cause touching. It looks good and there's about another 5 mm of empty space between the fender liner and the actual fuel filler neck, so I consider that enough space. With this offset, without using spacers, and with this brand/size of tire, I think I'm maxed out on inside clearance. You might be able to use a 215/55/17 but it'll be tight on suspension clearance.

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There's still a lot of wheel gap but they do fill it out much better.
Hello I am new to the forum. I was searching for some new wheels to replace the standard 16" alloys on my 2005.5 Jetta TDI (ugly peeling/some curb rash) and I came across this thread! Your '06 looks great! I am interested in doing the same with mine.

Do you have any updated information about this--has it caused any rubbing or other problems since then? How did it affect your speedometer reading/fuel mileage? Would you recommend others do the same?

Also, can you recommend a place where I can find the 17" Classix? I am having trouble finding them.
No rubbing. It is maxed out though. As mentioned above, The old tires had 1 finger width (not pinky but not quite thumb) of inside clearance against the fender liner at the fuel filler neck. The new tires are a different design and only +1 aspect ratio but has bulging sidewalls so it's now down to about 5mm of clearance.

Fuel mpg is about the same, speedometer reading is low so I made the adjustments shown in the FAQ to correct it. Looking back, it's not a bad choice but I think I would have kept the OEM tire size to keep the wheel/tire combo as light as possible. OEM wheels are pretty heavy and I didn't feel like paying the premium for lightweight aftermarket wheels. Light wheels are a win-win-win except for price.

I like the extra ground clearance and the lower engine rpm. I don't like the slightly reduced handling from taller sidewalls (not a problem for my driving style in this, you can still have plenty of fun) and heavier tire weight.

You can post a wanted ad here or try the vortex wheel classifieds.
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