Dropping a wheel size and speed rating for winter.

NO2

Messages
950
Location
Michigan
How safe and effective is it to go from a 225/60R17 H to a 225/65R16 T snow tire? The calculator shows only a -0.4% diameter change on the tire. I am considering this size because the Michelin X-Ice Snow is not available in a 215/70R16, the OEM lower trim size.

Any functional difference in alloy vs steel Rims?
 

JRed

Site Donor 2021
Messages
2,293
Location
Virginia
Steel wheels don't (normally) bend as easily and seeing that you live in Michigan that's a good thing. Taller sidewall usually rides better and makes you less liable to bend wheels. The steelies will probably be a little heavier. Cheap steelies for snow tires is super common. Only thing you might notice is that the steering won't be quite as responsive, but it's not like 225/60R17 is a sporty size to begin with.

Just make double sure the wheels you're looking at are the correct offset. The width of the wheel and the offset are two different things.
 
Messages
3,697
Location
Northern Ontario, Canada
It's done all the time. I went to 18" from 20" on my 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee. - 0.4% is no problem on diameter change. Less than 3% is acceptable.
Make sure your winter steel rims are hub centric.
 
Messages
2,404
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
This is done all the time and used to be the standard recommendation for winter sizing.

Make certain a 16" wheel will clear your brakes before you buy them. That's not always true and especially if it's a higher performance car. Personally I like the look of alloys vs. steel so much, I just always get a set of take-off alloys and then put the winter wheels on them. Usually less than new steel wheels. And in fact, picked up some used Volvo alloys today to create separate winter/summer wheels on a new (used) car. Summers will be 17, winters 16.

In general I find a size change of 2% +/- to be negligible. More than that and I think harder about it.
 
Messages
1,066
Location
Minnesota
Minnesota and Michigan are among states I've lived in and with similar weather. Winter salt and potholes are tougher on the aluminum wheels. There's good reasons to mount winter tires on steel wheels and to increase sidewalls with a smaller wheel.
 

RAR

Messages
148
Location
Minnesota
When I had my 2016 Ford Explorer Sport a couple years back, I got a set of Police Interceptor Utility 18” steel wheels from a salvage yard. I got the wheel center covers and new lug nuts to put on to make it look ok.

I ran the base model/service edition tire size (can’t remember which it was; I had them listed here for sale on this site after I traded the Explorer in for my 2019 Ram); never had an issue, and it seemed like it rode better and maybe was a little more pepped up with those wheels and tires. My Explorer Sport was equipped with 20” wheels OEM.
 

Astro14

$100 Site Donor
Staff member
Messages
13,236
Location
Virginia Beach
It’s quite common to go down a wheel size (1” in diameter) for snow tires. The smaller tire is cheaper, and a slightly narrower tire will do better in snow. Speed rating for snow tires isn’t as important (it’s cold out, so the tire doesn’t have to handle as much heat).

That’s exactly the setup I got my son for his Volvo.

Summer: 235/45R17 on beautiful new alloys. Z

Winter: 215/55R16 on old, beat up alloys. T

Both are factory sizes for the car (negligible diameter difference) and both clear the brakes.
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,102
Location
Ontario, Canada
All BMW factory winter tire packages are at least an inch smaller rim than the factory tire size. It is beneficial for winter traction to have a taller sidewall. Have always done it on all my cars.
 
Messages
12,584
Location
Colorado Springs
How safe and effective is it to go from a 225/60R17 H to a 225/65R16 T snow tire? The calculator shows only a -0.4% diameter change on the tire. I am considering this size because the Michelin X-Ice Snow is not available in a 215/70R16, the OEM lower trim size.

Any functional difference in alloy vs steel Rims?
Go narrower.
My set ups:
1. BMW
Summer: 225/45 R17W
Winter: 205/55 R16T (Alloy)
2. Tiguan
Summer: 235/50 R18Y
Winter: 215/65 R16Q (Alloy)

3. Sienna:
Summer: 235/55 R18W
Winter: 235/60 R17T (Steel)
 
Messages
9,794
Location
Ontario, Canada
Like mentioned above, going narrower with a taller sidewall is better in snow. Just watch you keep the same load rating in the tire.
I went from a 84 load rated 14" tire to a 155/80R13 (79 load rating) snow tire on my old Neon and the deep snow performance was amazing even at highway speeds, but after a few years the tires sidewalls started to fail.
 
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