Westy OE & OEM tires (only)

Capt. Mike

Transfer from Archives dated 10/21/99 (10:53 AM)

POSTING NOTE: Although additional data are always welcome, such as adding Eurovan OEM sizes & tech info, PLEASE DO NOT POST your personal non-standard questions or experiences here. I've tried to stay with factory OEM tires & replacements. If you have a personal experience with tires in this range, great. But please don't put your oversize rims, what 'Joe at the tire shop said' or non-standard comments here. To keep this thread from becoming cluttered, I've started a thread on "OE & OEM rims" and another for "Non standard rims & tires"

Moderator Note: Many of the links posted this thread have changed as manufacturers constantly modify their sites. You may have to go the manufacturer's home page and relink. Also, a number of tires listed in this thread will be missing from the manufacturer's web site. Manufacturer's sites do NOT include all tires. Go to that manufacturer to see if a tire that interests you is still available in Westy size & capacity.

There continues to be controversy over what tires to use on a Westy, and frequent questions on attempts to improve size, performance or costs. Unfortunately, many of these attempts create safety and performance compromises that must be weighed carefully. The below info applies to the Type II and Vanagon models. I presume the same principles apply to the 15” rims and tires on a Eurovan, and I invite someone to add those specs to this post. I’d also appreciate confirmation of the <’68 Type II’s [split window).

Early Westies came with bias ply tires – through 1971 – but they can be upgraded to radials. Both, in appropriate load ranges, are safe. Radials generally offer better performance and design technology, whereas bias ply tires have remained pretty static to their ‘60s design.

RIMS: The Type II (’68-'79) Westies came with 5-1/2Jx14 steel rims. The Vanagons came with the same 5-1/2Jx14 steel rims, or a 6Jx14 alloy. The factory installed OE tires were 7.00x14 8PR (bias ply) or 185R14r on the 5-1/2” rims and 205/70R14r on the 6” alloys. You can put the 205/70R14r on the 5-1/2" steel rims.

The J designation on rims refers to an inner profile and is necessary to match the tire bead. There have been other combinations, for example the Michelin TRX of the ‘60s. These are not safe to use on J rims and vise-versa. Although J is pretty much standard, check to be sure any proposed tire is compatible with your rim. Also note that a tubeless tire requires a rim designed for tubeless tires. They have an extra ridge inside to stabilize the bead and improper use without tubes can lead to sudden loss of pressure, even though the rim may hold air. It is safe to use a tube in a tubeless tire, but not the other way around.

Proposed rims changes require several design considerations. Most obvious is the lug pattern and clearance. Less obvious is rim offset. Offset is the amount the rim plane (flat line along the hub mounting surface) differs from the center of the mounting plane (i.e. center of tire tread). All cars are designed with a particular offset in mind. This is very important, as it is also the offset the wheel-bearing load is designed for. Changes in offset can cause bearing failure!

The original use of light alloy rims was to reduce unsprung weight, thereby giving better handling. The early units were cast magnesium alloy, thus the name ‘Mag.’ Today’s alloys are often fake – i.e. a steel wheel designed to look like a mag. Others are likely to be cast or forged aluminum, and in a Westy’s performance range, have little value. Get a wheel you like (subject to the size and offset discussed below), or better yet, nice hubcaps for a Westy steel wheel. A mag wheel will not improve your performance or mileage. A couple of disadvantages to mag wheels are cost and damage. Mags are far more likely to be damaged or scratched than a steel. They are also more likely to be bent. Cast wheels are subject to fracture. Getting proper-fitting weights during balancing sometimes turns into a crapshoot. Cost? For a quality alloy in the proper size and offset, you’ll spend several times a good set of steel wheel, with or without hubcaps.

LOAD RANGE: VW recommends – rightfully so – use only reinforced (little r) or light truck rated tires (6-8 ply in bias, load range D in light truck). This is essential for safety, as well as wear and handling. A fully loaded Westy has a GVWR in the 5,500 lb. range. A tire load rating of 1,500 lb. is a minimum; higher is desired because nobody ever gets the distribution of their VW exact (few even know what it is). A safety margin is necessary.

The (r) or reinforced rating was achieved by a change in construction.
United States Patent 4562031 -- Abstract: The method of molding a pneumatic tire having a radially outer tread portion, a tire casing underlying the tread portion and a reinforcing cord belt interposed between the tread portion and casing in which the tread portion is spin cast and then partially cured in the mold, the reinforcing cord belt is then fastened to the tread portion, a core inserted in the mold and the tire casing spin cast and cured. The reinforcing cord belt may be adhered to the tread portion by staples or a skim coat adhesive to hold the belt in place during the spin casting of the tire casing.
However tire manufacturers will tell you that it is the sidewall that is reinforced.

Regardless, today many manufacturers are abandoning the old ply rating, reinforced or light truck designations in favor of the DoT mandated load code.

Tire rack has a Speed, Load & Service page that explains the various tire ratings. Be aware that these ratings aren't necessarily used on LT tires, so you may need to look for 8-ply-rated or Load Range D in some brands.

From the table, you will see your Westy requires a minimum index of 96 or above to get the 1,550# your Westy came with. This is the r, 8-ply or load range D part of the tire size/designation. [Most r tires actually approach 8-ply or load range D capacity.] Also be aware that the term in use is usually PR = Ply rated, and a tire may have more or less physical plys as new technology and materials are discovered.

SPEED: The Westy is hardly a candidate for a high-speed pursuit vehicle, but speed ratings do play a part in tire heat, wear & longevity. Speed is the letter designator found in the tire size. In older tires, it was part of the R, for example the S in a 185SR14r indicated it was safe for 106 MPH. HR was 132 MPH. The first VGR tire, 165 MPH, was produced by Michelin in 1969 for the Porsche 911S and Ferrari. (It was also Michelin's first 'low profile' 70-series tire. Today, the speed rating is incorporated in that same load range designator.

PRESSURE: VW recommends tire pressures in the 40 PSI range for Westies. Never go below the VW manual listings. This is done for several reasons. One, the OEM factory tires require that for their load rating. Load is a function of pressure and the sidewall will say safe for X lb. at Y pressure. So if it says 1,500 lb. at 40 PSI, you do not get that 1,500 lb. load at 30 or 35 PSI. You must now use the maximum sidewall pressure to get the tire’s full load rating. My current light truck tires specify for 1435 lb. at 50 PSI, so I have to go higher than the VW recommendations to make maximum load.

The other reasons VW recommends 40 PSI are for shock cushion, sidewall stability (handling) and wear. The high center of gravity calls for a stiffer sidewall and Westy owners frequent forays into off-road or rough roads calls for good shock absorption. Lower pressures contribute to sway, tire wear and bent rims. There are car tires that meet the Westy load requirements at lesser pressure, and unscrupulous tire dealers who will try to sell you them for whatever reason – ignorance, what’s in stock, profit margin, etc. Don’t be conned. Stay with that 93P or up at 40 PSI or above rating.

UTQGS CODES: DoT mandated a tire code that adds another sidewall marking, the UTGQ. These are ratings of traction, temperature, and wear. They are relative and have little meaning beyond comparison value. A means the most resistance to heat and best traction, C the least. The tread wear number is referenced to a theoretical tire of 100. In increments of 20, the lower the number, the less expected life. A tire rated 400 should last about 4 times as long as one at 100; 600, about 1.5 times the 400. There is often a trade off, as a very hard compound with a high wear number could compromise traction.

Most modern tires for a Westy will run A traction, B temperature & 300 or above wear index. I am very tough on tires – max GVWR loads, lots of gravel and off road use, and 4WD – but I can still push 40,000 miles from a 400AB tire. My folks, in a lighter Vanagon and all paved road break 50,000 miles.

SYNCROS: An added comment about the ’86-’91 Syncros is in order. The Syncro works on a viscous coupling that is extremely sensitive to speed differential. By 6% differential, the front drive has locked in. A l/4 turn difference between the rear and front wheels will activate the 4WD. So it is critical that front and rear tires be the same size! Coupled with normal rear wheel slippage, many recommend that they even have the same degree of wear. New vs. minimum tread will approximate 3% of rolling diameter – half the allowable. I subscribe to that theory and even do a 5-tire rotation so using my spare won’t chance excessive activation of the 4WD and possible failure. It’s adds no more to per-mile tire cost and might save a very expensive repair.

Yes, VW put a 16” rim & tire on some special production Syncros. No, it was never sold in the US & Canada. I don’t know what other accommodations they made for clearance, load or other – these were custom factory approved projects. Rumors of special military vehicles also exist. VW South Africa approves two 15" rims for Vanagons.

ROTATION: Westies were never kind to tires and the Vanagons are a nightmare. The Vanagon does not have enough range of adjustment to keep them within specs, never mind compensate for wear patterns. This adds to the need for regular tire rotation. 5,000-6,000 miles should be a maximum. Since I do 3,000 miles oil changes, I rotate every other one. The old days of not cross rotating radials are gone. With the exception of some rotation-specific tires, usually studded M&S, Michelin and others now OK cross rotation. Any pattern that is consistent and gets a tire equal on all 4 corners throughout its life is fine. Doing a 5-tire rotation, I put the spare on LF, LF to LR, LR cross to RF, RF to RR and RR to spare. Some, using 4-tire rotation, move the fronts to rear and cross over the rears to front. Since you should have a quality tire in the spare, especially since getting a proper replacement during a trip is iffy, you don’t want an old dry-rotted or worn-out one. The 5-tire makes a lot more sense with a Westy.

Reinforced or light truck tires for 14” rims are not plentiful. Many manufacturers offer only one or two, and getting the tread pattern you want gets frustrating. Most Westy owners want some aggressiveness in their tread for the off road and camping travels. We also tend to run in some pretty foul weather. Yet most available patterns are typically “all-season” use. Thus many are opting for the light truck tire in 195/75R14C. This and the two OEM sizes, 185R14r and 205/70R14r, all have the same rolling diameter, thus will give the same speeds and gear ratio effect. Speedometer error and mileage should remain the same. It’s unlikely you will notice any effect on handling or wear.

I’m not in the tire recommending business. I know Bridgestone, and I’ve heard Yokohama, make a 195/75R14D. The D load range takes you beyond the minimum Westy requirements of a “C”. Michelin and Continental provide most of the OEM tires. I’ve heard Goodyear supplies Eurovans, but my own dangerously negative experiences with two different sets of Goodyears have left me gun-shy. Two of my Westies came with Continentals; all three lasted well, perhaps better than the Michelins.

I do one other thing that has proven helpful in terms of pressure settings and alignment. When I rotate tires, I measure the tread depth across the surface -- inside, center & outside ribs. My tires are permanently marked on the inner side (stencil & spray paint) and I record the wear by position, not tire. A spreadsheet simplifies this, but I can calculate whether I am wearing middle vs. outside (for pressure settings) or have a wear bias (alignment). A good alignment man can set the suspension to compensate for uneven wear. Or it might indicate a suspension problem. Ideally, you want your tires to wear evenly across over their life. That’s not to say you must do so at each wheel. You may want to sacrifice some center wear on the rears with higher pressure to get extra load capacity (Don’t exceed max sidewall!) or if you are wearing the fronts on the edges and don’t want to increase their pressure.

Caution: the Vanagon spare tire carrier has tension rods for two different size tires. If yours came with 185R14r, you'll need to get the 205/70R14r rods. You can sleeve them with some fuel line for 195/75R14C's. Not expensive, but the dealer won't stock them and will have to order. Easy to change -- couple of pins & clips.

Capt. Mike

10/21/99 (10:59 AM)

Bridgestone tires in 195/75R14D:

Bridgestone makes a tire in load range D for the Westy. As a "D", it has more load capacity than a "C". My neighbor has used them with excellent success. At 25K, including a 19K trip to Alaska, there is only normal wear on a '78 Westy Type II, they look to be good for another 25K. Tread pattern is fairly standard highway tread. From Bridgestone tech dept.: "It's actually a 603V pattern. You're right, it's one of the few on the market. If you want to order this tire, it's available through any authorized Bridgestone dealer, order article # 268-909."

LT195/75R14D Blackwall 28 lb.(tire weight) Load Range=D Measuring rim width=5.5 (5.0-6.0 range) Overall Diameter=25.6 Overall Width=7.4 Tread Width=5.1 Static Load Radius=11.4 Minimum Dual Spacing=11.6 RPM's=825 Tread Depth=12/32"

Capt. Mike

3/17/00 (1:04 PM)
After avoiding it for a long time, I finally got some new tires for the '71. Here are the specs:

Bridgestone 603-V LT in 185R14 Light Truck.
Primary reason for purchase: Less Expensive than some of the others, and couldn't stomach putting $50.00 Costco tires on my car to save money. (I don’t know why, but I just couldn't do it.)

Tread: Somewhat aggressive, with deep pattern.

Total cost of tire fitting, including road hazard warranty to 2/32 of an inch tread wear or 6 years, free balance and rotate, at Wheel Works: $418.79

STIFF SIDEWALLS! We got the car with some cheap car tires on it and it was a bear to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge in the wind. It would pull hard to one side, then when you went through the tower, the turbulence would cause the car to pull real hard to the opposite side then back as you came out. It was all we could do to keep it in the lane. What a nightmare! But now, it is much better but not gone. Safe at least. And I don't think there is a tire that could fix the wind issue completely.

-- tom Fogle

It took over a month, but I finally got the load capacity vs. inflation pressure chart from Bridgestone. Very informative. It's posted on the Tech Drawings link. Basically Bridgestone makes TWO load range C & load range D tires in sizes suitable for the Westy. However, the 613V noted on other sites is NOT suitable for a Westy -- it is a trailer tire! The 603V comes in 185R14C/D or 195/75R14C/D.

The 185R14C LT has a capacity of 1599 lb. @ 50 psi. The 185R14D LT has a capacity of 1852 lb. @ 65 psi.

The LT195/75R14C has a capacity of 1435 lb. at 50 psi, insufficient for the Westy. The LT195/75R14D has a capacity of 1710 lb. at 65 psi.

Bridgestone's recommendation for a starting point on the 185R14D LT rated tires are 41F/38R for 1405F/1333R lb. respectively.
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Capt. Mike

FOR '63 - '67 Westies

The following is pulled from the new reprint of the Bentley for '63-'67 model buses:

Early '63 buses with the 3/4 Ton payload rating were equipped with 6.40x15 4PR tube-type tires on 4½Kx15 wheels.

All 1 Ton payload, and after chassis #1 222 026, ALL transporters were fitted with the 5JKx14 wheels and 7.00x14 6PR rated tires except models with M171, which had 7.00x14 8PR tires. Tubeless tires also commenced with chassis #1 222 026.

Bear in mind that the unladen weight back then was only 2458 lb. and the MAX GVWR was 4112 lb. This is far less than a Vanagon's 5515 lb. GVWR. VW abandoned the 4PR when Europe instituted a unifrom PR rating system and therafter recommended 6PR & above for the remainder of the Splittie production run.

The obsolete 6.40x15 4PR required pressures to 35 psi; the 7.00x14 6PR required pressures to 40 psi. In modern parlence, 6 PR approximates load range C and 8PR is load range D, thus the recommendations for the Type II's & Vanagons should be appropriate. In radial construction these would correlate to 165R15 and 185R14 respectively. Be aware that radial construction has different handling characteristics. Original mold, older bias sizes are available from Coker Tire but do not meet Westy pressure specs so should receive limited show use only.
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Capt. Mike

If anyone needed a reminder about why you should be using the correct load-range tires on your Westy, perhaps the recent Firestone fiasco might reinforce the need to have proper tires and proper inflation.

I'm not going to attempt to analyze all the whys & wherefores of the Ford/Firestone debate other than to suspect it's 98% media hype and feeding frenzy. If a manufacturer sells that many vehicles on several tire types and the problem seems to narrow down to one tire, I'd sure question the tire, the load and the inflation pressure -- the latter two of which are DRIVER controlled.

Our Westies all call for a reinforced or truck-rated tire. Period. It does so for the ply-rating and other construction factors as much as the load weight allowed. If you notice VW's instructions you will find they almost always have the loaded tires near the tire maximum inflation. Any REDUCTION of air pressure is a reduction in load and an increase in flex & temperatures.

Hopefully, Westy owners are in a different mind-set, but how many SUV owners do you think use the minimum pressure in the manual, and then maybe check it at their 5,000 & 7,500 mile oil changes?

Although VW has pressures for empty and some front tires at below their sidewall max, I'd suggest you pump them up to sidewall max and then, IF you have more wear on the centers than edges, slowly reduce for even wear as long as you stay above the VW minimum for your load condition. For example, I finally settled on 36F/40R on my '79 for best all-around wear on the OE reinforced 185R14r tires.

So use the Firestone story as a motivation to go check your tires. Are they proper size, speed and load rating? Pressures up to sidewall max? Getting checked & rotated every 5-6,000?

Be safe & save a Westy.
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Capt. Mike

Had a phone session with Michelin's tech people this week. Michelin has dropped the MXL & MXT and no longer carries any tire suitable for the 14" Westy.


New member
Capt Mike,
You mentioned that Michelin said they don't make an appropriate tire for the Westfalia any more. How about the Michelin Agelis model 61 in size 185-14 Load range C? The Tire Rack website says they have a max capacity of 1710 lb at 54 psi, and I've read good reports about them on Vanagon.com. I'm planning to get a set when they are back in stock, which is supposed to be soon. Any comments about this tire? Thanks.

Capt. Mike

Michelin told me at the same time the Agilis tires are going to be discontinued so I didn't think it worth getting reader hopes up.

Although their latest listing still shows the Agilis 51 in 185/R14C with a 97 load rating (well above Westy requirements) and the Agilis 61 in 195/75R14C with a load rating of 107 (pushing the D range), their 205/70R14r version is long gone. Michelin does not "recommend" these two remaining tires for the Westy though I think they would serve well.

I'm interpreting what the Michelin rep told me as that the entire Agilis line will be phased out and no suitable replacement, at least in 185R14r or 205/70R14r will be offered.

Capt. Mike

WARNING: Michelin site error.

The Michelin web site's "Tire Selector" section suggests two tires for the Westy. One is a Rainforce MX4 and the other an Energy MXV4. Both are in the 205/70R14 size and carry a 95H load rating, which would normally be adequate for a Westy. However they have a maximum safe sidewall psi of 35 lb. and cannot therefore be safely inflated to the required Westy pressures for both wear and handling. Michelin admits they currently have no tire (in the N. American market) suitable for use on Westies, although many of us are satisfied with the LTX M&S in 195/75R14C.

Stretch: I just got off the phone with Continental. Although that Vanco tire was and is used on Rialtos, that's in a 15" tire. They no longer carry them in 14", so you have a set from old stock. Sorry -- that's what they just told me. Do check the production date and make sure they're still fresh enough for safety.
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New member
I have a question about the tires that are on my "new" '86 Westy. The are Uniroyal Laredo All Season AWP - LT195/75R14/C. According to the Uniroyal site they are light truck, load rating C tires with Max load of 1425lbs at 50psi. This seems to meet the requirements for a Westy, but when I use the Tire Selector on the site there isn't a recommended selection.

Any help would be appreciated. The tires still have a lot of tread, but if they aren't safe I'd prefer to get some new ones.

'86 Westy

Capt. Mike

Update -- 29 January 2001: Michelin, in response to a web-site inquiry regarding Westy tires, reminded me today that they DO NOT approve the LTX M&S in 195/75R14C for the Westy. Not because of load range, but because it lacks the "r" of the reinforced radial SIDEWALL as specified for Westies.
As posted above in this forum, there is a difference in the way tires are rated. The LT series use the 'load range' method, while certain special passenger tires used the 'little r' or reinforced rating. The reinforced refered to sidewall reinforcement whereas the LT series gets it's strength through heavier construction and higher pressures. VW specified 'little r' so few tire manufacturers are going to go out on the legal limb to recommend a non-VW approved tire, thus dropping them from the 'recommended' selector lists.

The load range C meets the basic weight load ratings of a VW (without anything to spare) and the 50 psi exceeds the minimum pressure VW recommends for handling and stability. So a load range C or D tire 'works,' but won't have the manufacturer's or my unreserved blessing.

To confuse the issue, there's another "C" rated tire, this the European Commercial rating. These usually meet Westy requirements as they equate to an 8-PR, Load Range D. tire. Don't confuse C-commercial with C load-range.

The lack of any manufacturers currently offering a 'little r' tire places us at the point of deciding what meets our requirements. If in doubt about load, you can go to a load range D (couple brands on the market). Always keep the pressure up to the new 50 psi tire requirements to meet that load -- i.e. don't decrease to the 40 psi in the manual for 'little r' tires, because these won't have the minimum load rating anymore.


New member
One of the worn-out passenger car tires on the rear of the 85 Westy I'd just purchased in Tennessee separated its tread from its casing right at an off-ramp in Casper, Wyoming. I know, I know, I never should have started the trip on those tires. The spare was even more worn-out, so I started calling tire shops. One place had two Kumho model 852 tires in size 185-14. They are 8 ply, load range D tires with a max inflation pressure of 65 psi and a max load of 1874 lb at that pressure. And they're kind of cool looking. So I put the two new Kumhos on the back, and then got 3 more in Butte, Montana for the fronts and spare. They sure seem to be available out there on the road. Pumped 'em up to 39 front, 48 rear. Made a ton of difference in the way the Westy felt in crosswinds. And they didn't cost much. $62 each in Wyoming and $59 each in Montana. I'll post if anything significant happens with them.

Update: Kumho Tires Go to products/light truck&SUV/commercial, to find the 852 tire. Kumho tires are made in Korea by Kumho Industrial Ltd. I don't think they're a phantom brand for some other tire company.

Jamie Harris

New member
I have a 90 Westy I just bought and find I need to replace the tires. I currently have Michelin LTX 195/75/R14 which have worn badly on the front outer sides (most likely tires weren't rotated and aligned properly). I have read this thread with great interest and it certainly has helped to clarify things regarding the limited tire choices we have for Westies. I still have some questions, though. The Yokohama tires which have been mentioned here and on vanagon.com as an optimal choice are considered by Yokohama to be trailor tires, though they acknowledge their use on vanagons. They were unable to explain what this means exactly for use as a regular car tire. Does anyone know if this means it might not perform as well given the normal stresses a regular tire goes through? And also, they told me it has a rather light snow/rain tread which hardly seems ideal for westy driving. I guess I would like to get some reaction from those who have used the tire. Although, I am leaning toward simply replacing the ones I have despite their tendency to wear on sides and minimum load index. An aside: Capt. Mike, is there an ideal tire pressure for the LTX tires you have found. It seems there is a wide range of tire pressure configurations for the westy, some with higher in front, and most with higher in back in the 50 range for load stability ?

Capt. Mike

This is generic -- I'm not familiar with the Yokohama tires, but I'm sure neither the Y356 or Y370 are ST trailer tires. ST (trailer rating) is required to be molded into the sidewall and the pictures I've seen do NOT have this marking.

Trailer-rated tires (ST) may have thicker belts but softer sidewalls and carry less pressure. They are, typically, a cheaper tire with less tread depth, but may have compounds to slow ozone or sun deterioration. They are not safe on a driven vehicle -- they can't handle the turns and torque. The converse is not true, a truck-rated tire (LT) can generally be used on a trailer. Trailer tires get severe sideways scrubbing in turns, especially tight ones, and are more likely to hit curbs, road edges, debris or potholes. Thus, a stronger tire is required due to conditions, not load.

Although there are dual purpose tires that allow passenger vehicle tires to be used on a trailer (almost always truck tires), use of a trailer designated tire on a driven vehicle is generally unsafe. Goodyear, for example, molds the warning directly into the sidewall.

Trailer tires are rarely exposed to the shock or lateral forces. A trailer tire is basically a straight ahead design, and does not experience the turning or steering use of a driver vehicle tire.

Trailer tires do not need a 'traction' tread, thus are not likely to have an 'all season' driving designation something I consider a minimum for a Westy. Trailer tires generally have a shallower tread depth.

If you are wearing the tires unevenly, it IS alignment. However, read the posts under front suspension about overhauling and modifying a Vanagon front suspension. Vanagons are notorious for running out of adjustment room due to a combination of lack of designed adjustment AND wear or setting of the front suspension bushings.

Ideal pressure has so many factors, there is no fixed answer. Most LT tires meeting the Westy load minimums require 50 psi or above to make the load rating. Thus you have little option since the Westy, at least under loaded camping conditions, will push those weights. My folks, with a lightly loaded standard Vanagon, use 40 psi front, 50 rear on the same tire. They carry a handicapped electric cart in the rear, so the rear gets loaded pressures, but not the front. They will easily break 60K miles on a 4-tire set.

I use 50F/50R on a Syncro because of the high front end weight. I'll break 50K on a set despite a period of alignment problems. However, the 50 psi does transmit more shock, so is a little harsher. However, I've WEIGHED my Westy, at each wheel in its loaded conditon. At the very least, do a F&R weighing at a truck stop to determine load needed. It's cheap -- about $8.

Use the tread depth measurement and spreadsheet tip posted above to figure out what your tires are doing, both from an alignment point of view and a to determine a pressure/wear bias.
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Jamie Harris

New member
Thanks for the info and tip. I'll be sure to stop and weigh it if we ever see one of those stations when it's fully loaded. As for the Yokohama Y356 tires, I may have gotten bad information from the person at Yokohama. The person at Tirerack insisted up and down that the Y356 tire is not designated as a trailer tire, and does have an all-season rating. If I can truly verify this, I might just get these considering the price ($61) and their high load range (D); if so, I'll be sure to let you know how they wear.

Capt. Mike

Transferred from another post to consolidate same topic.

Mixing 14" tires
Ross V Walker Junior Member # 1690 posted 07-30-2001 02:36 PM

Here's a variation on the 14" tire problems. I have a 89 Syncro Westie with Michelin 205/70R14 MXT tires and standard rims, and need to replace tires. I read your warning about mixing tire sizes on a syncro, and also read your 14" rotation chart. I am considering two Bridgestone 603V (195/75R14D) tires on the rear while keeping the discontinued Michelins on the front. The diameters are similar. Do you see a problem with this? Thanks for an extremely informative site. Ross Walker

Capt. Mike

Yes. Do not, repeat DO NOT, mix tire sizes & types on a Syncro. The original post remains correct.

SYNCROS: An added comment about the ’86-’91 Syncros is in order. The Syncro works on a viscous coupling that is extremely sensitive to speed differential. By 6% differential, the front drive has locked in. A l/4 turn difference between the rear and front wheels will activate the 4WD. So it is critical that front and rear tires be the same size! Coupled with normal rear wheel slippage, many recommend that they even have the same degree of wear. New vs. minimum tread will approximate 3% of rolling diameter – half the allowable. I subscribe to that theory and even do a 5-tire rotation so using my spare won’t chance excessive activation of the 4WD and possible failure. It’s adds no more to per-mile tire cost and might save a very expensive repair.
Although the rolling diameter may seem deceptively close, those are lab perfect, calculated figures on a cold tire. Mixing tires sizes, types & pressures means the working RD will vary considerably. Enough to cause the problems warned against. Stay with a matched, 5-tire set.

It's your money but you are basically betting the little remaining life in your obsolete tires against the cost of a new viscous coupling. Think about it. You can buy a lot of tires for the cost of a viscous coupling replacment.

Dave Hampshire

New member
Yokohama Y 370 Tires, 79 Westy
What fun it was shopping for tires! After spending a couple of weeks researching the issue, I felt like I would have to park the old girl for the winter and save for some 15" alloys so I could find a decent tire. With a Westy, I obviously (thanks for all of the advice Capt Mike) need load rating AND sidewall rigidity. Plus I need a tread that is agressive for some backcountry camping trips in the summer and the up and down in the winter from my home at the 3700 foot level of a 5000 foot ski hill here on Vancouver Island. In addition, my 79 Westy is likely heavier than normal due to the complete Vanagon cabinets, fridge, stove, propane and water tank that are installed. The tire I finally chose, upon the recommendation of the local Kal Tire dealer, is the Yokohama Y 370, LT 195/75R14, 8D. Load is 1700 lbs @ 60 psi. Two weeks of driving later, I must say that these tires have really performed in mud, gravel, snow(already!)and a couple of icy patches for good measure. Highway action on a windy trip to Victoria this past week was excellent as well, with some noticable, but not annoying, road noise. Stability is quite improved, having switched from Armstrong's on front and generic Canadian Tire brand rubber on back, both in 195-14.
While researching the issue, I surfed all of the websites of the major tire makers and was unable to find my tires on the Yokohama US site. If you'd like to see the Y370 (although the picture doesn't do justice to the aggressivness of the tread), surf to Yokohama Tire
Hope this helps!


:) Update time! These tires are still holding out three years later. Totally recommend them and the Westy and I have seen a lot of snow, mud, gravel as well as pavement in the 35,000 + km since mounting them. According to the Yokohama Canada website (URL above) the tire is still available. As mentioned in my post above, my Westy is likely a little heavier than a stock 79, due to camper equipment. Dave


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Capt. Mike

Dealer won't install 185R14 tires on bus.

ingathefinga Junior Member # 3452 posted 02-20-2002 10:53 AM

What should I do about getting tires for a 1970 camper? They will not put on 185/75R14, Even though those are the ones that are on it now. What should I do. Any suggestions?

wildbill Junior Member # 2696 posted 02-20-2002 03:37 PM

Ingathefinga, who won't put 185/75r14 tires on your bus??? I got mine at discount tire. Yokohama makes a 195/75R14D tire with a load rating D. very good on/off road tread. have had mine on 72 westly for approx. 7000 miles. I am happy with the performance both highway and trail.

Moderator note: I'll echo, "who won't put 185R14r or 185R14D tires on a Westy?" It's a scarce size; does he want to to sell you something else? Sharing the identity of bad dealers is a service to all the site readers.

However, I'll quickly say you may have found an ethical dealer who does not carry a 185R14r (reinforced) or 185R14D load range tire that the Westy MUST have for safety. In which case my hat's off to him. Most will try to sell you whatever they have in stock, safety specs be damned. Few realize the Westy is a 5500 GVWR rated vehicle (1-ton) and must have truck tires.

The r (little r for reinforced) tires have pretty well disappeared from the market. You will probably have to go to a 185R14D or 195/75R14D light truck tire. Bridgestone makes both and there is additional info on them in the Tech Drawings link.

Whatever you do, be SURE you have a tire capable of BOTH the load and minimum pressures required for a Westy per the discussions above.
Howdy Campers:
Thanks for this most interesting discussion. I dove into finding a suitable tire for my 84'1.9 / Westy and have found that the load rating for a Yokohama y356 185R14 D@1850 lbs. was 140 lbs more than the same tire in a LT 195/75R 14 D. Rough guess is 6% more load for the smaller tire. What throws me in the charts is if a tire has 50 lbs pressure max. and is rated C then what is the approx. safe load rating of a D tire (1710 lbs@ 65lbs.)when its @ 50lbs. pressure? I'm weighing the stability vs load question and would love to hear any thoughts on this subject.
Thanks, Steve
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Capt. Mike

Although it varies slightly from tire to tire, there is a load vs. pressure chart for the Bridgestone 603V's in that size & rating already posted. Go the the Tech Drawings link from the home page. Yokohama does have one buried somewhere in their tech department, but getting it out of customer service or sales may be a challenge!

The same phenomena exists on Bridgestone; their 185R14D is 1852 lb. vs. 1710 for the 195/75R14D, at 65 psi. The ratings at 50 psi are 1599 and 1435 lb. respectively. At 50 psi on the 195/75R14D, you are getting close to the minimum for a fully loaded Westy whereas you could go down into the 42-44 range on the 185R14D if you wanted a softer tire for the same load.

Why? Anybody's guess but I presume a function of sidewall design. The 185R14D may be a carryover from the old 185R14r design that consistently had a higher load rating than the equivelent LT size among most brands. Michelin admits their LT series does not have the same sidewall reinforcement as their discontinued r series.

There will be a slight gain in tire width with the 195/75R14. The 10mm is approximately .4 inches. Overall rolling diameter, thus gearing & speedometer error, is about the same. My own personal tire wear experience is that I only wear the center more than the edges on the RR, and then only slightly. Thus I can handle the higher pressures of a D from a weight point of view and will probably stay with the 195/75R14D due to my 'off-road' traction requirements. But for a mostly paved road user, the ability to go softer with the 185R14D can be an advantage for ride & handling without sacrificing any load capacity. The high pressures of these LT tires do make for a stiffer and more jarring ride than the old reinforced tires.