NON standard wheels & tires

We just got tires for our 83 Westy. As everyone knows who has ever had to buy tires for a Westy it can be nearly impossible to find tires with the reinforced sidewall and correct load rating, especially if you have the stock 14x5.5 steel wheels as we do . Our 83 had car tires on it when we bought it and they were SCARY. I checked out the available options and went with the Continental Vanco 8 195/14 from Michel Tire here in Cincinnati (they had to special order them from Tire Rack) and they're great. 2100 lb load rating and reinforced sidewall. Agressive tread but very quiet and smooth ride. The old beast handles like it's on rails now even in the rain. The lateral stability is especially noticeable on the highway getting passed by Bubba in the big rig doing about 90. We don't get blown all over the road anymore. Best of all they were 71 bucks apiece. The 195 is slightly larger than stock but not enough to notice any difference in the speedo reading, braking, clearance or acceleration. The 185s were backordered until the end of time anyway. The Michelin Agilis was $120 or so even from Wal-mart. So better tires for a little more than half the cost of the Michelins. One tiny caveat-the tread pattern seems to get a bit of gravel stuck in it. We live on a farm with gravel roads so we probably notice it more than most. Great tires for a good price.


New member
I have a set of BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A 27x 8.5x14 on a set of steel wheels and they work fine. Minw is a Westy 2WD. No fitment problems or clearance problems that I can tell. They are not the KO version though, I think just the regular All Terrains like mine have a bit less aggressive pattern. They are a little noisier than stock, but handle really great and are not bad in the rain. Cant speak for snow or ice, i'm in Texas. Very hard tire to find though. I only found one place on the net that has the size. Discount tire just laughed at me.
Hey, has anyone ever considered using stock Eurovan wheels on a Vanagon or Westy? I have an 89 Carat with the original alloy's but would like to entertain the thought of 15" for a greater selection of tires. I found on a few websites that list the Bolt Pattern of the Eurovan wheels as 5X112 but could not find info regarding the offest. Also unsure about the GVW of the Eurovan compared to the Vanagon. For some reason there doesn't seem to be very much Eurovan info out on the web. Otherwise...I will be sticking to the original alloy's. Thanks

Capt. Mike

Since the 15" rims were standard OE on Eurovan Westies, there is some information on offset posted in the "OE & OEM Wheels" topic.


New member
Dear Capt Mike:
Huh? 15" wheels OE on Eurovan Westy?
Eurovan Westy? The Eurovan is outfitted by Winnabago.

Only the Vanagon is Westfalia. Explain?????
I'm new to this and looking for wheels. Thanks.


New member
Nuts. Bulged/blew out/delaminated the treads or the sidewalls on 7 tires between 2/04 and 9/05. Two OEM 205-70-14 Mich. delam'ed or bulged on the fwy. Gillette Wyo. Nuts. Only could get SCwab to replace. NOT OEM.

Then three more NON OEM LTX Mich 195-75-14's. Now have sidewall crack on another LTX Mich, and sidewall bulge-flatted another. All were either old (OEM) or low mileage LTX. I now have 2 Les Scwab C range 195-75-14 with 30,000 and going strong, and Yokohama 356 going strong. The Yoko's are road tread... nuts, but okay. Capt Mike, ya said it all. Get Load range UP THERE!!!

I also found identical Non-OEM tires with the identical labelled size are not identical. They very a LOT. My gas mileage varies 10%, as Capt Mike points out... but I really do not notice the diff. in HP up Stevens Pass, etc... I do not care if they run 10% slower. 45 mph vs 40.5 mph.... but on a long trip to Maine- 10% mileage gas DOES add up.

I also use REAL tire chains, In central WA in winter. No cables. 14" wheels are the cats meow/lottsa clearance. Who can afford TWO SETS of WHEELS? Yeah, I know YOU can, but not me. Next time, I;ll try BFG 27x8.5x14 and let ya know. I drive about 40,000 miles per year, what with family all over the state in various stages of life/death. It is good at least to see this site with some NON OEM tire info I can use. THANKS!!!

Capt. Mike

Take a deep breath, step back, and look at the picture fresh from the beginning.

First, Eurovans were & still are converted by Westfalia -- for the rest of the world except N. America and even for Canada the first couple years. Regardless, they all got standard Eurovan wheels and tires -- the bare transporter chassis are shipped with wheels. Refer to Eurovan Bentley M 00-4 & N 00-04 for wheel sizes, offsets, etc. I still can't answer the question on whether these would fit a Vanagon.

You mention tire failures of two OEM 205/70R14r's. Those tires haven't been available for so many years even a 2004 new old stock installation would be suspect due to age & hardening, especially if used with chains.

The Michelin LTX 195/75R14C was never approved for Vanagons though used by some with success. Marginal load capacity and lack of sidewall strength.

I don't know Les Schwab tires, but "C" can have two uses -- the more common US load range designator like the Michelin LTX's were, which is NOT to VW standards, or the European C for commercial 8PR which is. Your problems might be all tire related, but also look at load distribution & pressures. Have your's weighed? There are a couple of topics elsewhere on the site for those discussions and delaminating is usually the result of low pressures &/or insufficient load rating. The pressures to retain the sidewall rigidity is the primary reason for the commercial Westy requirements -- plenty of car tires have load capacity but not the ability to handle the psi that is also required.

Chains damage tires. yes, they may be a necessary evil but no tire was really meant to be running on little metal bumps or have their sidewalls flex out into what is basically a cage all the time. Both sets I have came with strong warnings about speed limits, not using on pavement, and proper fitting. The load that was spread out over a couple dozen square inches of flat pavement is now on a couple square inches of steel grid. Ditto sidwalls -- their normal bulge at the bottom is now suddenly constrained by a crimp in the middle, all while spinning & repeating hundreds of times a minute.

Cable type chains are a slightly better compromise but studded tires are preferred. Vredestein still make an excellent, studdable tire to VW size & specs, but studs are illegal or restricted in some states. These aren't wheel issues; "Winter & studded tires . . . chains" has its own topic.

A set of winter tires on extra wheels too expensive? I got 4 VW OE 14" steel wheels from a junk yard for $5 apiece. Try auto flea markets or eBay, too. A bucket siphon sandblaster from Northern Tool is ~$20. A couple of bags of playground sand from Lowe's and a couple cans of spray paint from the discount auto parts . . . viola! Since I have OE alloys, I also had to spring for a set of steel lug nuts since they aren't interchangeable. Still pretty darn cheap. I would think this to apply whether going for OE or non-standard wheels that fit. This topic is for non-OE.

Capt. Mike

JWPATE Member Posted November 18, 2005 02:33 PM

Hi fellow owners,

Usually the very last to deviate from stock parts, I have now decided to convert the Westy over to 15 inch wheels. Last week while down in Phoenix, I picked up a nail in the left rear. After mounting the spare I soon came to realize a very serious problem we owners must face, if we continue to use the old 14 inch wheels. No one could repair the tire because the nail had entered too near the edge. NO ONE COULD REPLACE the tire because that 14 inch format is now a RARE TIRE and only available after about a week ordering wait. Even in a place like Phoenix...a week to replace a flat. So it was home to Vegas without a spare. That 300 mile journey across open desert will not be repeated. I am too old for such nonsense, even though I figured the odds were good. New South African VW rims in 15/6.5 alloy are in the garage and will be fittted with Michelin Hydro Edge 215/65 tires.

The question I am still not satisfied with, involves the rear wheel stud lenghts. They are the standard 34.5 mm studs and seem to me to be all together too short for any alloy wheel. They only just filled the nuts with steel wheels and will be a constant worry with the thick alloy rims. The front wheels are no problem because I got a set of long bolts along with the rims. All the folks I have asked about this issue, have responded; "don't worry about it. VW only ever used that stud, regardless whether steel or alloy wheel". I note though in my parts CD that the 85-92 16 inch wheel was actually fitted with a 40 mm stud and I have attempted, without success, to obtain a set. It seems VW no longer supplies either the short or the long studs for Vanagons. So I am looking at the alternatives. The Porsche suppliers offer many lengths of studs, including the 40mm, and I expect they would work fine on a Vanagon. The 911 model has used 14mmx1.5 studs for as long as I can memember, bue I am uncertain about the flange end of the studs. Are they the same? Perhaps they also use the same OEM supplier. Has anyone used a set??

[Addendum: Posted November 18, 2005 04:37 PM]

And to partially answer my own question, I have now uncouvered information which lends further authority to the responses "don't worry about it, because VW used both alloy and steel wheels on the very same 34.5 mm rear wheel studs. It seems that the German standard for nut engagement is 6.4 threads and I believe the standard studs have that even with the alloy wheels. Others suggest that the diameter of the stud should also ge engaged in the nut. That would be 14 mm in this case and is about what the 6.4 thread would amount to.
It still does not satisfy however, and so the search continued until I have located reasonably priced 14x1.5 mm wheel studs for the Vanagon. This is 10 mm longer than the standard studs and even 5 mm longer than the syncro 16 inch wheel studs which I had been unable to find. Perfect.........., and a set of ten are on order from FAST FORWARD.

Hey all. Just wanted to make a quick comment re: the 15" South African, Rhein wheels... Just got a set mounted and balanced with the Michelin Hydro Edge 215/65's. The job was done by GoWesty in San Luis Obispo, and has to be the best upgrade I've made for the van. The difference in handling is like night & day.

87 Westy, new upgraded 2.4 Waterboxer (thanks GoWesty!)

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Steve Williams Power Member Posted March 29, 2006 08:01 AM

Howdy Campers:

Captain, thanks for your reply. Probably over-thinking this tire project for my 84 Westy. Currently I'm running 185 R 14 D Hakka CQs for winter and 185 R 14 R D Bridgestone 603 Vs for summer.

The Comtrac 205 R 14 C tire has a per mile revolution of 773. The equivalent 185 R 14 C is @ 813 or a difference of 40 Rev/mile. My guess, from those nice speed guns the police set up to let us know how much too fast we're going, my Vanagon speedo is off about 3-5 MPH.

Since I have an SA conversion engine with a little more power and a bit more torque and certainly a higher redline, would I risk any damage to either drive train or engine? I did spend a little time with the Derek Drews’ tire chart but not conclusive to steer me one-way or the other. (

I've got Syncro springs on a 2 WD and would love to soften the ride a bit plus out here in western Colorado the wind gets fierce on those long days to up US 189 to Wyoming and a little bigger foot print might be helpful.

Thanks for your help,
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New member
Greeting all,

Hopefully this is not a stupid question - has anyone found a 15 X 7" steel wheel that will fit a Vanagon?

I have read this entire thread, and I just find it hard to belive nothing is available.


Capt. Mike

I counted 6 different posts & references to 7"x15" rims in this topic before I gave up counting. Several referenced one dealer that sold them and a few mentioned other brands. 6½"x15" that supposedly fit are also available. Did you check any of the PARTS forum vendors?
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New member
Hello Captain Mike,

I tried to be specific, maybe I should have capitalized, I am asking about STEEL WHEELS, not alloy wheels. I am not looking for wheels that look sexy, I'm just trying to find a 15 inch wheel that will fit so that I can gain stability in high winds.

As another post mentioned, here on the western slope in Colorado we get some wicked winds, I have experienced unintentional and unexpected lane changes due to wind, and that can be a bit scary.

I will do some more checking on the PARTS vendors.


Capt. Mike

Following is straight out of the GoWesty on-line catalog: "Our 15x7" Steel Wheel is a 15" diameter version of the stock VW wheels. Painted silver like the originals, . . .". Don't know anything more about them, but GoWesty's reputation is good. We disagree on some tire choices.

Most wind instability is usually tracked to improper tires or pressures. VW's OE tires have reinforced sidewalls -- for a reason. Changing wheel size will not likely affect wind response. A square box will always have poor aerodynamics, but they are usually manageable with the OE tires or suitable 8PR or Load Range D replacements of the right size and pressure. In the mountains, larger wheels will cause noticeable gear ratio effect. You will have to change to a 215/60x15D to get similar effective gearing and I don't know what kind of clearance that will give you. None of this takes into account the added rolling resistance, weight and unsprung weight. Or cost.


New member
I have the GoWesty tire and wheel package, and honestly if someone passed a law that said you had to use only stock tires and wheels I would sell my Westy. Specs be damned, the OEM tires and wheels felt so unsafe by comparison. It felt like driving on ice. To me, this so-called spec was nothing more than Volkswagon trying to hold on to a standard long after it was useless.

However, the one flaw I see in the tire and wheel package is the length of the original rear wheel studs. The new nuts only thread on to the stock studs by about 7 threads.

I replaced mine with 52mm wheel studs. I found them on eBay and paid about $45 for them. I have since found them cheaper. Plus, without a hydraulic press, this is a job best left to a shop. My shop did this while they were doing some other minor work, so I am not even sure what they charged me.

I am an admitted coward and that's why I both have the GoWesty wheel and tire package and why I spent the extra money to have longer wheel studs so I know those good wheels and tires will stay on.

santa cruzer

New member
Tire issue in California

We just bought a 2003 Eurovan Weekender Westfalia. The stock tires were bald as could be. The seller said the tires were on backorder everywhere in California. I got my great new ride home and found that some tire shops would install almost any touring tire which was the stock size of 225/60/16, not taking into account the load rating. This is seems like a tragedy waiting for an opportunity.

I don't know if California is different, or the load rating is called the load index, but I learned that I needed a load index of 102, and this is a very difficult tire to come by, and nobody could come up with a set. I got a variety of responses about the Michelin 225/60/16 102(load index). Some said it was discontinued, others said it was on backorder for an indefinite amount of time.

One shop with a decent reputation said they have installed over ten Westfalia Eurovan's with Kumho tires, 235/60/16, which have a load index
rating of 104H, model # KL51APT. They assured me that this was a fine fit.

My question is: Will this slightly larger tire cause us any problems? I know it's not to VW's specs, but will it work? We will be in need of traction devices (cables) during the winter also. What do you think?

Thank you for any feedback.