New tires or tires and wheels for 1984 Cavalier

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I have a 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon.

It was my dad's. It sat parked for 10 years. He passed away, I inherited it, and I got it running again with a new fuel pump (and a fuel tank due to rust).

The problem is that it has old tires on it. Really old. Like Montgomery Ward Grappler II tires. I haven't checked the date code but I suspect these date back to the early 90s!

The stock tire size is 175/80R13 and as far as I can tell the only passenger car (not trailer) tire available in this size is the Milestar MS775.

I think maybe a better option would be to get steel 15" wheels from a 1998-2004 Cavalier and 195/60R15 tires, which are very close to the same outer diameter as 175/80R13. I can find these wheels for about $25 a piece in quite a few wrecking yards, and there seems to be a decent selection of 195/60R15 tires.

The bolt pattern is the same (5x100) and the bore (57.1MM) is the same, but I have not been able to confirm that the offset is the same.

Does anyone know if GM used the same offset on the J-body through it's existence and if not what problems a different offset might cause?
 
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You should be fine with offset as far as how it sits on the vehicle. I put 15" alloys from a Sunfire on my 85 Skylark and they fit well as far as offset is concerned. I went with 185/65r15 tires since my factory size was 185/80r13 which is no longer available. The speedometer is spot on with that size for me. I think the ones you were talking about are a bit shorter so they should work fine on yours since the Cavalier got slightly smaller tires.

Glad to hear you aren't trying to go with 16" or bigger because the car will struggle. Handle better, but struggle with acceleration and maintaining higher speeds. The one problem I did run into with mine was that the spokes of the wheels were hitting I think the caliper bracket or something in there. I got some VW 10mm spacers and that solved the issue for me. I think steel wheels have more clearance so it shouldn't be an issue for you.
 
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Canada, eh?
I agree with @71Chevyguy, steel wheels will be your best bet!
I had an early model Ford Focus I wanted to fit some 14 inch winters on.
I thought an alloy set from a 90s model Tempo/Topaz would fit...they didn't.
They bolted up just fine, but they made contact with the calipers (and I didn't want to run spacers).
Sure enough, once I found a set of 14 inch steel wheels from a late 80's-early 90's Tempo/Topaz, they fit like they were meant for the car!
 
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Here is a what fits/what hits for GM A-body cars from the abody.net forum. This may widen your choices for donor wheels in the bone yard. Sounds like you are on the right track:

After that is tires. No A car got a wheel larger than 14", other than the 1986 Century GS and 1988-90 6000 AWD (15"), and most had tall, skinny economy tires to match their target demographic. My opinion is aftermarket wheels are gaudy as hell, so I like to stick with GM wheels. Moving up to a 15" wheel gives you a lot more selection when it comes to tires, and 16s give you more performance-oriented choices. Depending on your brakes, your choices are:



JA1/JM4, 5 x 100:

  • J platform cars, 1982-2005. 13 to 16 inches diameter, width up to 6 inches.
    Chevrolet Cavalier; Oldsmobile Firenza; Buick Skyhawk; Cadillac Cimarron; Pontiac 2000/J2000/2000 Sunbird/Sunbird/Sunfire.
  • L platform cars, 1988-1996. 14 to 16 inches diameter, width up to 6 inches.
    Chevrolet Beretta and Corsica.
  • N platform cars, 1985-1998. 14 to 16 inches diameter, width up to 6 inches.
    Buick Somerset (Regal) and Skylark; Oldsmobile Calais, Cutlass Calais and Achieva; Pontiac Grand Am (up to '98).
There seem to be other non-GM applications, such as the Dodge Neon and Volkswagen Jetta, that may work. I haven't yet done any research regarding that. I have seen a second-gen Cavalier with Jetta wheels tooling around Las Vegas, but that doesn't mean too much without being able to inspect the car up close.



JA2/JM4, 5 x 115:

  • C platform cars, 1985-1996. 15 or 16 inches diameter, width 6 inches.
    Buick Electra (FWD) and Park Avenue; Cadillac Deville, Fleetwood (FWD) and Sixty Special (up to '93); Oldsmobile 98.
  • H platform cars, 1986-1999 15 to 17 inches diameter, width up to 7 inches?
    Buick LeSabre; Oldsmobile 88; Pontiac Bonneville.
  • N platform cars, 1997-2005. 15 and 16 inches diameter, width up to 6.5 inches?.
    Chevrolet Malibu and Classic; Oldsmobile Cutlass ('97-99) and Alero ('99+); Pontiac Grand Am ('99+).
  • U platform vans and CUVs, 1990-2005. 14 inches (early) and 15-16 diameter, width 6 inches.
    Buick Rendezvous; Chevrolet Lumina APV and Venture; Oldsmobile Silhouette; Pontiac Aztek and Trans Sport/Montana.
    Note: CUVs are included for completeness. I don't really know if they will fit properly, but they should since they're derived from the vans.
  • W platform cars, 1988-2001, 14 to 16 inches diameter, width up to 8 inches.
    Buick Regal (up to '96); Chevrolet Lumina (all years) and Monte Carlo ('95-99); Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme; Pontiac Grand Prix (up to '96, some 8" wide, can't recommend).
  • Non-GM wheels
    Chrysler LH platform, 1993-2004. 15 or 16 inches diameter, width 6 to 7 inches.
    Chrysler Concorde, LHS, New Yorker, 300M; Dodge Intrepid; Eagle Vision.
    IMPORTANT NOTE: These wheels are compatible, but some of the relevant measurements are different. Lug spacing is 5x114.3mm, or 5x4.5". Center bore is 71.3mm. Offset and backspacing are close enough.

Bigger wheels means new tires. For the best handling, you want to go wide and short, meaning as much tread as you can fit inside the strut, and a short sidewall. In a general sense, the less treadwear, the better. That means the tire will wear faster, but will be stickier. In 15 inches, I had a Fisk Classic in 205-65-15, which seems to be a house brand at Discount Tire. Very good economy tire which happened to have a good amount of grip. In 16 inches, the only experience I had was with 225-50-16 Kumho Ecsta ASTs on my Celebrity. Loads of grip accelerating, cornering and braking.

You'll need bigger brakes to fill in the backs of those wheels! A-body-based vans will likely have you covered, if they have 15" or bigger wheels stock. I can't find the page right now, but a guy in Canada on Cardomain with an '84 Celebrity (who swapped a Cadillac 4.5 V8, by the by) put on van brakes front and rear. If you absolutely must have discs in the back, you have a couple options. If you don't have ABS, the 1986 6000 STE is ideal, but becoming increasingly rare. Second is the 2005 Uplander. Reports are the caliper mounting bracket is welded to the axle, so it'll have to be cut off, and is not available over the counter at a dealership. I haven't heard anything positive about W-body brakes, but having never owned one, I cannot vouch. As for the vans, the front hubs are used by many cars, including A cars. The front disc brakes are shared with C, F and H platform cars, among others, up until about 1997. The rear drums are a parts bin special, used by **** near every car GM made from the mid-80s to 2005.
 
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I think 185/65R15 would be a good size tire for that car, with tons of good tires available for a while yet I think. I like running them in winter for my Focus and its probably 300lbs heavier.
 
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155/80r13’s work fine and have more selection

If your worried about fuel economy put on Insight tires 165/65r14

Though new rims rarely pay

Except if you buy this :0


Looks like someone has exactly the right size for your car and not huge $$$$

 
Last edited:
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LQK and Pull-a-Part type places have all kinds of 15" & 16" GM alloy wheels for very reasonable prices that would be a tasteful upgrade and hopefully your father would also be pleased.
 
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155/80r13’s work fine and have more selection

If your worried about fuel economy put on Insight tires 165/65r14

Though new rims rarely pay

Except if you buy this :0


Looks like someone has exactly the right size for your car and not huge $$$$


coker the coke dealer $300 each for a 13" tire LOL :ROFLMAO:
 
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Don't put VW wheels on, they need ball-shaped lugs and you have cones.

Cavaliers had 14" wheels on the base trim for a long time in the 90s into 2000s, so you could do some 195 70r14s.
 
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LQK and Pull-a-Part type places have all kinds of 15" & 16" GM alloy wheels for very reasonable prices that would be a tasteful upgrade and hopefully your father would also be pleased.
I kinda like this suggestion, me personally. 15” GM alloys would be a nice move. 15” was a nice wheel, in style in the 90s.
 

brianl703

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keep the Montgomery Wards on there...just use the car for around town cruising (under 35mph)

The nearest road to my house with a 35 or under speed limit is at least 5 miles away. And these tires look awful. I noticed a bulge in the sidewall and cracking around the sidewall. I hope they'll hold out long enough for me to get to the tire shop, which is 5 miles away. I guess I'll just put the 4-ways on and keep it under 35mph on the way there.
 
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