Wheels <18" for Comfort & Fuel Efficiency

johnrogers

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2015
Location
Houston
TDI
02 TDI Jetta Wagon
Howdy, folks. I am currently driving with 18x8 Audi TT ALMS/RS4 wheels and 225/40R18 tires on my ALH Wagon. The wheels weigh about 30# each and are killing my comfort and fuel efficiency. I am looking for wheels that are lighter, and also smaller to accommodate tires with taller sidewalls. It is my hope that the change will deliver increased FE and a more supple ride.

While I've read quite a few posts, I thought I'd ask here is something I am not considering...

a) How much improvement in comfort can I expect in going from 225/40R18 to 225/40R17? Or, to 205/55R16? (I know, it's subjective... but perhaps you have some personal experience).

b) What kind of fuel efficiency gain can I reasonably anticipate? With 17" Audi Fat Fives weighing 21.5# per wheel, for example, I could be losing around 10# per wheel.

I am currently getting around 37MPG with mostly freeway driving at 80-85MPH. I look great, but I feel every @#$%ing bump in Houston.

 

MichaelB

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2009
Location
SE Wisconsin
TDI
2014 Passat SE DSG
Well I don't claim to be an expert on tire and wheel size.
Here is what I did. My 2014 Passat came with 235/45-18 Continentals. I bought a set of 16" alloys from a guy on Vortex and put on 215/60-16's Pirelli P7's . Fuel economy has increased by 4mpg and it has a much more comfortable ride than the oems's.
 
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IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
I've run 15s and 16s on my MKIVs, 17s on my MKVI. Long story short, 15s provide the best ride and FE. However, tire selection is limited, and there really isn't much available that you can call a performance tire. Seems best compromise is to go to 16x7 wheels and 225/50-16s. Ride quality is still good, and grip is far better than with 15s.

Having said that, I'm still happy to run 15s on all my MKIVs (four total, including my sons')


Here it is a few years ago at the track with 16s.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
The ubiquitous Avus wheel Indigo has on his wagon are only 17# each. You'll save a lot of weight and the tire patch isn't bad for a car of that size. Also, since VW made so many of the Avus wheels, they can be had for cheap.

Good luck,

PH
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
I have them on my Golf, too.


I have three sets of them, plus a couple extras. Last set I bought from someone on CL for $135. Yes, they're light, inexpensive, clean up well and don't seem to bend. I have Bridgestone Ecopias on the Golf, which are a reasonably sticky tire. The Michelin Energys on the wagon are not as grippy, but they give great FE (52+ at 75 MPH) and have gotten better as they've worn.
 

Seatman

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 23, 2010
Location
Scotland
TDI
2014 Skoda rapid elegance 1.6 cr tdi
I've run 15's 16's 17's and 18's. Can't really say there's much difference in comfort between 16's and 18's, 15's are sloppy.
As for mpg maybe a fraction of a ml difference.

Biggest difference in feel is the suspension, gas shocks are a fair bit harder than oil ones.

my 18's are also 18x8 audi alloys. They are quite weighty but I think maybe once they're up to speed the weight helps keep them moving or something. Not a scientist lol

But yeh, I just stick with 16's through winter cause narrower cuts through snow and 18's through summer because they just look dam good!
 

Macradiators.com

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2015
Location
Romania
TDI
2.0 CR 360hp
I think the best compromise is the 17" setup, wheels as light as possible and good rolling tires class B or A ;)
Comfort is decent.
 

Votblindub

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2010
Location
NY
TDI
MK4 Jetta Wagon
The most comfortable ride in my cars is on the Avus wheels. They are really light and cheap(good bonus if you want to save $$$, fuel and on tire cost, but don't care about aesthetics). It's a small difference to go to Wolfsburg or BBS RXII wheels. Decent balance(but definitely noticeable) to use Long Beach wheels and less comfortable to use BBS RC wheels(currently on).
 

Dirtracr95

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2013
Location
Des Plaines, IL
TDI
'13 Jetta Sedan DSG
Some 16x7 rpf1's should weigh in at 13.70lbs. Probably the lightest wheel you can get for the money.

Ive got 18x8 RPF1's on my MK6 and they weight in at 18.00lbs.

The 17x7.5 weigh in at 15.25lbs.
 

chuckactor

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2016
Location
Fort Collins CO
TDI
2005 Jetta GLS Wagon
I have the exact same wheel and tire setup on my 2005 Wagon. I agree the ride is not quite as smooth on rough surfaces but I saw no change in the mileage when I switched from the factory 15's.

Chuck
 

jprine

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2009
Location
Chicago
TDI
03 GLS Golf TDI, 04 R32, 05 Passat Wagon TDI
225/60R15 on factory wheels. What seems like +400% traction over stock size, and I can fly though potholes as fast as I want. I'll post a pic when I get a chance, looks good in wheel well to me. Slight rub on plastic inner liner near full lock but it doesn't bother me enough, I'll get same size next time.

Handles better then stock size even though its taller because it has a higher load rating and stiffer sidewalls (1565lb vs 1356lb, no suspension change). 15s in this size are usually for minivans and such. Using Cooper GS5 Ultra Touring, they are very quiet I cant hear them at all at highway speeds and I have a 6 speed so engine noise is low. Buddy has mkiv with 17s and I think mine handles better then his with less roll but I have FSDs and he has TCs so it might be just the shocks.

It also raised the car about 5/8-3/4". (Speedo reads spot on, yay!) I wanted a little more height because of rough roads and we have tall curbs around here that can prevent passenger door from being opened. Worked out prefect. If you drive on smooth roads and do allot of highway miles you might not want to raise the car if your concerned about fuel efficiency though. Saves me fuel sometimes when I can coast right over rough stuff when everybody else hits the brake and then more fuel to get going again lol...
 
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OlyTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Location
Olympia, WA
TDI
'04 Golf
I cannot contribute with regard to wheel weight and fuel conservation but the 16" is the sweet spot for ride comfort and handling. Probably what was factory on that?

P7's on 16's have been golden on my Golf and with a 2" lift and complete suspension refresh with Koni FSDs, the ride is awesome. Smoothest I've ever had.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
225/60R15 on factory wheels. What seems like +400% traction over stock size, and I can fly though potholes as fast as I want. I'll post a pic when I get a chance, looks good in wheel well to me. Slight rub on plastic inner liner near full lock but it doesn't bother me enough, I'll get same size next time.

Handles better then stock size even though its taller because it has a higher load rating and stiffer sidewalls (1565lb vs 1356lb, no suspension change). 15s in this size are usually for minivans and such. Using Cooper GS5 Ultra Touring, they are very quiet I cant hear them at all at highway speeds and I have a 6 speed so engine noise is low. Buddy has mkiv with 17s and I think mine handles better then his with less roll but I have FSDs and he has TCs so it might be just the shocks.

It also raised the car about 5/8-3/4". (Speedo reads spot on, yay!) I wanted a little more height because of rough roads and we have tall curbs around here that can prevent passenger door from being opened. Worked out prefect. If you drive on smooth roads and do allot of highway miles you might not want to raise the car if your concerned about fuel efficiency though. Saves me fuel sometimes when I can coast right over rough stuff when everybody else hits the brake and then more fuel to get going again lol...
225s are really too wide for 6.5" stock wheels. You get a lot of sidewall angle and flex, which is probably why they accommodate poor roads so well. And your speedometer may be spot on, but your odometer now reads low. It's always something.
 

bubbagumpshrimp

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Location
Virginia
TDI
'13 Jetta TDI
I've had two VW's with stock 17's, one with stock 18's, and one with stock 16's. The 17's provided the best overall driving experience (handling, ride quality, feel, etc.).

I'll never run 18"+ wheels on a car. I bent a rim and got an "egg" in the sidewall of a tire on a pothole that...while substantial...I don't think would have been a big issue for a smaller wheel with a tire that had more cushion.

16's (my TDI)...to me...ride too cushy and don't feel great during hard cornering. If you're REALLY worried about potholes though...I'd say to stick with 16" or smaller wheels.

17's with decent performance oriented tires will give you a great blend of highway ride quality and handling performance.

On your fuel economy issue...slow down. You want better fuel economy...don't drive 80+ MPH. Slow down to 70-75 MPH and see what that gets you before you run out and buy new wheels and tires just trying to chase down a few MPG.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
Everything works together to create ride and handling perceptions. Springs, dampers, bushings, tires. VWs usually have pretty soft stock suspension, and TDI owners usually run it longer than its useful life. Put worn dampers together with 15" wheels and all season tires and you're going to get a pretty soft ride and not the best handling. But couple those same wheels and tires with good dampers and bushings and you'll have a different experience. Wheel width matters, too. Same tires on different width wheels will ride and handle differently.

My Golf has 15s on it, but it also has Koni Yellows. It's not sloppy by any stretch. My wagon has Reds, same wheel and tire size. It doesn't feel as good when pushed, but rides better. Depends on what you want.
 
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johnrogers

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2015
Location
Houston
TDI
02 TDI Jetta Wagon
Thanks everybody for the feedback and input. I love this place. I'll be sticking with my 18's for now, and driving a little slower on the freeway while doing my darndest to avoid manhole covers and potholes in the city. Tires are fairly new, so it's hard to justify not driving what I've got.

When the opportunity arises, however, I'll be trading for some 16's or 17's. From what I read here, a tire with a taller sidewall will be the best improvement in ride comfort given the 'total picture' of my tire/wheel/suspension configuration. Thanks again for all the feedback. :)
 

WrEkkED

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2008
Location
Toronto
TDI
'04 TDI Sport
I run 18s (225/40) in the summer and 16s in the winter. I would say the 16s (205/55) are much easier to turn and much easier on the clutch. With that being said, I hate the drive feel. So squishy and will probably look for a set of 17s next time I need winter tires.

I find I lose about 80km/tank with the 18s if I'm doing mixed driving as it takes more effort to get them going. Not a huge difference on the highway, maybe 50km less. My wheels are heavy as well at 27lb. Light wheels will make all the difference and I would except would help FE but no matter what the smaller tire width will cause less friction.

I run continental extreme contact DW in the summer and continental wintercontact si in the winter.
 

WrEkkED

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2008
Location
Toronto
TDI
'04 TDI Sport
Should note: 18s on stock suspension sucks. Both my cars shot the stock suspension within a season. Every bump they would clunk and I hit the bump stomps mutiple times and even broke a motor mount.
I have had both koni yellows with hr springs and now koni coils and I would say the yellows improved ride since they handle the heavy 18s way better and I didnt mind at that time 15s for winter.
With the stiffer springs I have now 18s are amazing and the 16s are super squishy. I live in Toronto and our roads are horrible for pot holes. only issue I ever had with 18s was a bad tire from the manufacture (conti) and the belt blew on an expansion joint on stock suspension the same day they were installed. I have never had a tire burst or wheel bend and I have over 100,000 km on 18s with stiff suspension. - just to point out if you have good brand tires and good brand wheels they should all hold up regardless.
 
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nokivasara

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2008
Location
Sweden @ Lat 61N
TDI
Tiguan 4-motion, Golf mk7
I went from 18" to 16" and love it. Better fuel economy and more comfy ride. Looks good too.

My Skoda has 17", 225/45, and it is a bit harsh, I will look for a set of 16's for it for next year.
I think the 16's are the best compromise.
 

Macradiators.com

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2015
Location
Romania
TDI
2.0 CR 360hp
The best setup for comfort and looks is 17 with 225 45 R17 wheels and some Koni FSD suspensions
this one also gives better mileage compared to 18" setup, cheaper tires.
You can choose tires based on rolling resistance and mileage if fuel consumption is on your mind.
 

turbovan+tdi

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Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Location
Abbotsford, BC.
TDI
2003 TDI 2.0L ALH, auto, silver wagon, lowered, Colt stage 2 cam, ported head,205 injectors, 1756 turbo, Malone 2.0, 3" exhaust, 18" BBS RC GLI rims. 2004 blue GSW TDI, 5 speed, lowered, GLI BBS wheels painted black, Malone stage 2, Aerotur
I ran Wolfsburg on my 04 wagon with 205/55 and recently switched to BBC RC's with 225/40's, and honestly, I found the ride is better. Maybe its my suspension but the 18's don't hit as hard going over bumps, expansion joints, etc. MPG seems to be exactly the same.

My wife's car has 17's and hitting expansion joints was painful but I took out the ST springs, too low, and put H@R sport springs in, brought it up 3/4 an inch and she now rides beautifully.
 
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