Tag Archives: Tires

You Can Use Spacers To Fit Tires That Are Just Barely Too Wide On A Car

My wife has a 2001 Camry with a V6 and stick shift that is her baby. It’s also 21 years old and a daily driver so on one hand we want to keep it running but on the other we have to be mindful of costs. When it needed new tires and rims, we had to think about what we could do. A few years ago we got a great deal on a Solara that was garage stored in the winters and put new tires and rims on it but we also kept the old set…. could we use those? The answer was that they almost fit.

The Camry’s Tires

The original tire size specified by Toyota was 205/65/R16.

The Camry came from the factory using 205/65R15 tires. What do those numbers mean? The first one is the section width. To explain, 205 is the tire’s width in milimeters. For those of us who grew up with inches, we divide that by 25.4 and it is about 9.25 inches. This is the overall left-to-right width of the tire (not just the tread).

The two digit “65” is the aspect ratio. It is the percentage of the tire’s width. Why they couldn’t just give us a measurement there, I don’t know. So you take the 205mm x .65 = 133.25mm. Divide that by 25.4 and you get about 5.25″. This tells you the distance from the rim to the top of the tread.

Just to show you how screwed up the automotive industry is, the “R15″ means the tire mounts on a 15” wheel. Yeah, that last bit is in inches.

The Solara’s Old Tires

I have a point – the Solara’s tires were slightly different. They were 215/55R17. I was more concerned about the height but what bit me was the width. Again, the original was 205 and the Solara was 215. That is a 10mm difference. 10mm/25.4=0.39″. That was just a tad too much.

These were the 215/55/R17 tires on the Camry.

Well, the tires seemed to fit on the Camry and I took it for a test drive. Other than a bit of rubbing if I turned hard around a corner it was fine. I thought I was done but I wasn’t.

The rear tires were rubbing on the struts

Turns out that the tires were rubbing slightly on the struts. This is where that extra 0.39″ thickness bit me. I noticed it a few weeks later when I checked under the car to make sure everything was ok.

Turns out the tire was far closer to the stut than I realized and would rub on the strut. Argh, I did not notice it when I spun the tire with the car int he air when I mounted them.

The solution – add 5mm spacers

I took a real careful look at the tire-strut gap with the car on the ground as well as in the air and I needed to make it wider. There are spacers made that can move a wheel out just a tad from the hub without causing a ton of problems. As you move the entire wheel assembly further away from the hub you are increasing the strain on the bearings and everything else for that matter.

I don’t have an absolute gospel answer about how far is too far but was told once to keep it as little as possible – certainly 10mm or less. I know there are thicker spacers out there for the people wanting the look of the tires pushed out past the fenders. I just wanted to add a bit of clearance without sacrificing reliability or handling so I ordered in a set of 5mm spacers. 5 mm is about 0.197 inches. Now that is less than the tire difference of 0.39″ but I felt I could get away with it given the extra space I needed so I decided to order a set off Amazon.

The HubCentric brand 5×114.3 60mm bore spacer units were very well made and also very affordable – they were $9.67/pair.
The spacers simply slide on between the hub and the wheel. Note the rust – you want to get rid of that and lightly grease the rims or else the aluminum is going to corrode fast. If you have time, paint the spacers. I didn’t have time to do that.
I used a surface conditioning disc and knockled the rust off the hub. I then applied a thin layer of wheel bearing grease before I reinstalled the spacer.

Before I put the tires back on, I did spray three coats of satin black Rustoleum to try and protect the exposed surfaces. In Michigan, rust is inevitable due to all of the salt put on the roads in the winter. The name of the game is to slow down the rust and that was all I was trying to do.

Mounting the wheels was a bit of a challenge because I needed to hold the wheel in position as I started the lug nuts. I like to start them by hand before I run the nuts down with my impact wrench. I set the final torque using a torque wrench.

It was rubbing the sidewall where the lettering was at. You can see there is no a decent gap. The top looks far closer in the photo than what it is due to the angle.

Summary

By using 5mm spacers, I could mount the larger Solara tires on the Camry. We have not felt any handling differences or had any problems so far – it’s been about two months now and a few hundred miles. The car is really just for local use – it’s days of long trips are over so I feel like we made a good choice all things considered.

I hope this helps you out in those cases where you need just a hair more clearance.


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How to rotate tires on a Dodge Ram 2500 or any truck with heavy tires the easy way

I bought a new 2021 Ram 2500 in September of 2021. It was my first heavy gasser with a 6.4L Hemi and a piece of advice a lot of guys gave me was to make sure I rotated the tires with every oil change. It sounded reasonable – it’s heavy truck and the tires need to be rotated so they will wear evenly. If you don’t do this your handling may suffer such as picking up a wobble or you may wear the tires such that they must be replaced prematurely. Ok, I was totally on board with concept but then started thinking about how heavy they probably were – I sure knew they weren’t going to be light.

Factoid: FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automotive – who owns Dodge now – and FCA is now part of Stellantis – for those keeping track of who owns who) reports the LT275/70R18E Firestone Transforce AT tires as weighing 50.7 pounds. The 16×8 steel chrome clad wheel comes in at 45.2 pounds. Add them together and you get 95.9 pounds not including any wheel weights, TPMS, etc. So you might as well say that each weighs 96 pounds. Yeah, that’s quite a bit for me.
Weighing in close to 96 pounds, these tires are a bit too heavy for me easily lift and hold in place when it comes time to mount them on the lugs. For you guys who muscle them around all day, good for you. I can’t any longer.

From years of doing stupid stuff, my back and hands are nowhere near as strong at 55 as they were in my 20s and 30s. I’ve always done my own oil changes, tire rotations repairs in general and didn’t plan to stop and pay the ridiculous prices the dealer was quoting. I knew it would be a heck of a struggle for me to lift the tires up and hold them in place while getting the first couple of lug nuts on to hold it. I needed to figure out a way I could lift the 33″ 96 pound tires up into place using mechanical advantage.

So I started by searching on the web for tire/wheel lifts and most of what turned up had to do with moving truck tires across a shop on a dolly. I wasn’t finding anything that said “use this to lift your tires up and down at the vehicle.” My next stop was the local Harbor Freight store to look at various automotive tools and jacks to get ideas. It was there that I got an idea.

There are ratcheting vehicle dollies for garages where there is one dolly for each wheel. You pump a foot pedal and a pawl engages a notch and pushes two cylinders together under the tire. As it does this, the tire and vehicle are lifted up. You do this on all four corners. The dollies have caster wheels under them and if you have a clean concrete floor, you can then slide the vehicle all over the place to either store or work on it. One early trade name was “Gojak” and since then tons and tons of companies have made them.

Hmmm…. I could take one of those and use it to lift the tire into position and hold it as long as I could lift the tire high enough. These jacks are rated at over a 1,000 pounds and my truck’s tires were going to be far, far less than that. No, it was the height that concerned me because I needee to lift the truck high enough to remove the tires in the first place.

I didn’t particularly care for the looks of the Harbor Freight model so I did some digging and found a Sunex unit on Amazon that works in a purely mechanical manner – some hydraulic models from other brands are reported to leak.

It arrived and took just a few minutes to install the caster wheels. I did make one mistake, I was curious if it could lift one corner of the truck – the answer is a resounding “NO” and I did bend the outriggers that hold the casters slightly. I really didn’t expect it to bend but it also didn’t really hurt the unit from an intended use perspective.

This is a Sunex model 7708 1,500 pound car dolly. I’m not really sure it can handle 1,500 pounds but it works great for lifting tires into place.

Most importantly, it worked perfect. I would roll the tire over to my truck, slide the jack in by the edges of the tire and then pump the foot lever until it was the right height. I could then install the lug nuts in an amazingly easy manner. It worked so well I did it both on my Ram 2500 and on our Highlander.

I used my Vevor 11,000 pound pneumatic jack to lift up the truck a side at a time and put 6 ton jack stands under each side of the axle. Never trust any jack to hold up a vehicle while you are working on it – especially not a heavy truck. By the way, I really like the Vevor air jack.
Pulling the tires off is easy – gravity is working with you. I use an IR 232TGSL Thunder Gun impact wrench that has held up remarkably well over the years- I bought it after wearing out a couple of cheap ones. I also use a Chicago Pneumatic (CP) SS4211 lug nut socket set to avoid damaging the rims. The sockets have a plastic protective sheath around them and are thin walled for tight areas.
The 2500’s lugs are 14mm and the lug nuts need a 22mm socket. What I like about the CP set is that they are color coded. This copper colored socket is 22mm and I can find it fast due to the coloring. Note, CP stands behind their products. I bought the set in 2018 and shortly after, one plastic jacket started cracking. I called customer service and they mailed me a free replacement. I’ve not had any problems since. Again, let me plug the Thunder Gun. I want to say I wore out two or three cheap impact wrenches before this one. They claim 625 ft lbs max torque in reverse and 550 ft lbs in forward. I can tell you I have busted loose some really rusted nuts with this.
To mount the tires in their new location, I’d get the tire over in front of the hub and then slide the dolly into place to do the actual lifting. You put the silver cylinders on each side of the tire and pump the red lever (you can very easily do it by hand) to lift the tire up.
So the silver toggle on the left side of the red foot lever allows you to change whether the pawl under the lever is pushing the bar and drawing the silver cylinders together or if it moves the pawl out of the way so you can lower it.
So you use the foot pump to get the height right and then you can rotate the tire – the silver cylinders in the dolly turn so you can perfectly line up the wheel on the lugs and put on the lug nuts. Folks, it makes installing the 96 pound tires stunningly easy.

So, in hindsight after actually using the dolly, it really doesn’t take much actual lifting distance to get the tire into place. When I jack up any vehicle, I typically only lift until the tire is 2-4″ off the ground after I put the jack stands in place – so the gap between the floor and the bottom of the tire is not huge. I also realized you can go with just about any of these jacks – you don’t need super heavy duty because the weight of the tire is relatively small. Just read the review for whatever before you buy it.

Additional Details For Fifth Gen Ram 2500 Owners

By the way, in case you are trying to find the rotation pattern, it is a reverse cross meaning the front driver’s side goes to the back passenger side. The front passenger side goes to the back driver. The two former rear tires move straight up – rear driver to front driver and rear passenger to front passenger.

Tires on the 2021 Ram 2500 move in a reverse cross pattern. Rotating them with each oil change is recommended. (Source: Photo of page 496 of the 2021 Dodge Ram 2500 Owner’s Manual)

If you are looking for the lug not torque spec, it is 130 foot pounds for cone lug nuts – mine had cone lug nuts. If you have flanged lug nots, it is 140 foot pounds.

On the topic of torquing the nuts down, I start mine by hand to avoid cross-threading the nuts and then I run them in quickly with my impact wrench using a torque limiting “torque extensions” – these extensions work with impact wrenches and twist at a predetermined torque but get weaker with time so they are great for bringing the nut down to the rim but not for setting the torque. I do the final torquing down with a 1/2″ torque wrench. Do NOT keep tightening with the impact wrench or bad things may happen such as cracking your rim.

Lastly, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) will learn where the tires are automatically. Note, you can’t change the minimum tire pressures for the front and rear without going to the dealer or knowing how to re-program the appropriate computer settings. At least, I can’t in my Tradesman. If you can in another model, that is something I don’t know about but count yourself lucky – I wish I could.

In Summary

The car dolly idea to do the lifting and positioning really paid off and now I can do the tire rotations safely and easily. I hope this helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.