Westy OE & OEM tires (only)

Capt. Mike

I still have one of the original Michelin MXL's delivered on my Westy in size 205/70R14r. The UTQC is 97R which equals 1609# @ 40 psi with a maximum speed of 106 mph.

My Michelin X M+S 185R14r 94P set is rated at 1540 lb. @ 40 psi (with a maximum speed of 94 mph if memory serves). They were bought to have a set of OE M&S tires for the Westy. These are the two original spec tires! Obviously there might be minor variations in specifications between manufacturers but not significant. Continental was another OE supplier.

They are "C rated", as your sticker says and per VW publications such as #W64 250 6111, the Vanagon/Camper, a sales and specifications booklet for the 1990 version. But that is C as in European Commercial 8PR, not US LT Load Range C 6 PR. I'm sure 1984 model year had a similar publication -- you'll have to scour the obsolete publications market if you won't accept the 1990 version. The ONLY tire change I know of during the entire Vanagon production was adding 205/70R14r tires with the introduction of the optional 6" alloy wheels. So your sticker is correct -- for that era.

To the best of my knowledge Goodyear, Firestone & BF Goodrich NEVER supplied VW Vanagons so it doesn't surprise me some local salesman doesn't know what tires it calls for. And since they don't make one, will they try to steer you into something they can make a profit on. Damn right.

Yes, quality of tires has gone up, but not necessarily ratings. But specs are specs. You still can't put 1600# and on a 1200# tire or 40 psi in a 35 psi tire. I don't give a damn what some saleman says. But it's your life!

Back to the "C rated" of that era -- they are C-rated for the European designations back then. My owners manual specifies the 185R14C. A designation that has disappeared with the UTQC coding. It lost meaning much like the old 6- & 8 ply rated of the bias ply era. How a tire gets its C load range varies by construction. Some get it at lower pressures by reinforcing the sidewall -- the "r" reinforced construction. VW now uses the UTQC code.

For MARKETING purposes, current aftermarket "light truck" lines still carry a C & D ratings in VW suitable sizes in sales material, but the absolute spec is the UTQC. Load range C in one size is not the same spec as Load range C in another.

I do not know of any tire still being produced in VW's old specs, 185R14r or 205/70R14r. Sorry, live with it. There are over 12,000 members on this site. They can't all be wrong or too dumb to find a set of tires. Look at the available replacements. I've spent countless hours with most manufacturer's reps researching current lines to pass it on to the membership. There are half-dozen recommendations and sources on the site & in the PARTS forum.

So the often repeated recommendations remain: current replacements must meet VW's pressure settings for safe and effective handling and wear AND have the appropriate load capacity. So if your replacement doesn't say 94P or above in the UTQC code, it's not safe. AND it better get it "at 40 psi" or above or you won't be able to pump it up to the VW specs for proper handling. Demand to see their load vs. pressure chart to determine what pressures you must run. (Bridgestone's is posted on the tech drawings page.)

Since most of the light truck tries in the VW compatible sizes have to go to load range D to get the load capacity, you also have to accept the higher pressures most require to do it. That's in the 50-65 psi range. Ride rough? Darn right. Not as rough as a blow-out on the Interstate, but definately rougher than OE.

I agree one shouldn't just automatically assume something on the Internet is gospel. And I agree VW is remiss in not providing more specs in the shop & owner's manuals. I guess they are assuming you'll buy your replacements at VW, so it wasn't high priority. It was in the older model shop manuals and I notice it's coming back in the Eurovan manuals. Complain to VW.

In the meantime, I'd steer clear of any dealer that is willing to sell you a below-spec tire. There are numerous tires that DO meet specs listed in this post. One is even in the larger OE size of 205/70R14D. 185R14D and 195/75R14D are plentiful. Just buy a 'tush cush'. That's what my wife did for when my truck tries are pumped up to 80PSI for towing the show cars. You think the Westy at 50-65 psi is rough?


New member
I have 1984 Vanagon Westy with original equipment wheels. I have had some trouble finding tires.

I found several tires listed on The Tire Rack that they recommend for the Vanagon. I am NOT making any recommendation for Tire Rack, per se, but it does look like these tires meet the rather difficult-to-find requirements of the Westy. They all fit on 14-inch by 5.5-inch OEM rims. They all have a diameter of 25.6 or 25.7 inches.

As of October 20, 2002, the tires they specifically list for the 1984 Vanagon are:
Continental Contact CR21 185/0-14 (reinforced, maximum listed pressure 40 psi, maximum load per tire 1540 lbs.)
Bridgestone 603V 185/0R14 (load rating C, maximum listed pressure 50 psi, maximum load per tire 1600 lbs.; also availabe in a D load rating with maximum listed pressure of 65 psi, maximum load per tire 1855 lbs.)
Dunlop SP LT5 185/0R14 (load rating C, maximum listed pressure 50 psi, maximum load per tire 1600 lbs.; also availabe in a D load rating with maximum listed pressure of 65 psi, maximum load per tire 1855 lbs.)
Yokohama Y356 185/0R14 (load rating C, maximum listed pressure 50 psi, maximum load per tire 1600 lbs.; also availabe in a D load rating with maximum listed pressure of 65 psi, maximum load per tire 1850 lbs.)
Michelin Agilis 185/0R14 (load rating C, maximum listed pressue 54 psi, maximum load per tire 1710 lbs.)
Goodyear Wrangler HT 185/0R14 (load rating C, maximum listed pressure 54 psi, maximum load per tire 1710 lbs.)

The prices on the Tire Rack range from $50 to $109. On top of this price you would have to find someone in your area to mount and balance, plus pay for shipping and probably a tire disposal fee for your old tires. All but the Goodyears were listed in stock, however some they listed as "low stock" meaning they just had a few.

Capt. Mike

Good research. Most of those tires are listed in the above posts but that summarizes them. A number of those listed are also availalbe in the more desireable 195/75R14C or D size. The option VW size of 205/70R14C or D seems to be non-existent except that one Korean tire from CIP.

One must be careful of load designation C. Some are over the 1600 lb. the VW needs, others are down around 1425 which is unsatisfactory for the 5500+ GVWR. Read YOUR tire sidewall. Unfortunately, Michelin has announced the discontinuance of the Aguilis line; it seems like everytime we find a new tire, the manufacturer discontinues it so some may be limited to existing stock. Frustrating! But thanks for the info.


New member
Regarding the Woosung tires from CIP. Has anyone used them? They come in all the right sizes and load ratings for the Westy and although the tread pattern doesn't seem that aggressive it stills looks OK. My local tire shop has sold numerous sets and says they have had good response. They also sell a tire for the Eurovan which is reinforced. I believe it's a 205/70/15.

Moderator Note: Woosung is a Korean manufacturer now integrated into the Nexan line.

Capt. Mike

A new chain has begun massive advertising here in central NC. Just Tires -- "Tires in 30 minutes or less." One ad specifically says rare & hard-to-find tires are no problem.

I had some time to kill and stopped in at one. What did I get in 30 minutes? That he had never heard of a tire in the Westy sizes (185R14D, 195/75R14D or 205/70R14D) and couldn't find one in his books or even after calling his headquarters. Finally, after I gave him several known tires that were suitable, he said he could get the Bridgestones in 4 days for a price only about 15% higher than my regular dealer.

Just Tires & . . . BS!

Mike Robinson

New member
Hi I have Woosung on my '82 Diesel and they are OK. Average, do the job. They have about 10,000 left on them - so they will have probably done about 50,000 km when I replace them. I am thinking of replacing them with Yokahama tires. I think price is this tire's claim to fame!


New member
So, I had my new Woosungs installed today on my '72 Westy. The ride is great, solid and very quiet. I had them modify the tread a little, open up the shoulders with more channels and sipe the entire tread for ice traction. Only time will tell, I will post again after some miles this winter.

Capt. Mike

From a private email by a member, but of interest to Westy owners.

Costco no longer offer the Kirkland 195/75R14. Since mine had bad cord separations they (Costco) refunded the full $48.99 purchase price So I'm taking that money and a little more and will pick up 4- 185/14r Nokian Hakkapelitta CQ's today. These come highly recommended from my old Volvo shop and are an 8 ply, D rated tire with what I understand to be a very sticky compound engineered for winter driving. Nokian also offer this CQ tire in a 195 but @ $120 smackers per tire vs $90 for the 185.They way I figure it the 10mm difference mean more weight on individual tread lugs, how much is outside my training.

My stratagy is too use the Nokian's tires, Dec-April then switch to the Bridgestone 603v's April-Dec. I'm hoping this will get me 100k miles [combined sets]. I drove the hell out of the 603v but did have two with cord issues which were replaced N/C. Other than my time and some lost dental fillings.


New member
Recently bought of set of 5 Yokohoma tires for my 87 Westie in 195/70R14 load Range 'D'. The tire dealer and I decided on 50 psi in the frt and 60 in the rear to start as we had no hard data. As stated in these postings, the ride will probably be harder than that experienced with the OEM tires. These inflation rates are below the max of 65psi for the 1710lb load rating. Anyone have any input on inflation pressures for this tire? Also, has anyone ever established whether this is or is not a trailer tire as was suggested sometime back. The lettering on the tire names it a "Supervan", so it seems to be a suitable tire.
Greetings: I drive an 84 -- Westy-Jetta here in Colorado. We've had a pretty good snowfall and after 4 K of mixed winter driving, these are incredible tires! Awesome traction in the muck, quiet, and very smooth rolling on the Interstate @ 65-70 Mph. They are an 8 ply, 185R14 Nokian Hakkapalitta CQ. Load rating @ 65 psi of102 or 1874 per tire! Product code T 44-35-40. For the "Campmobile" Nokian HQ recommends 36 psi. Front and 44 rear. I understand that they make a 195 but size seems to sacrifice load rating. For more information go to (www.nokiantyres.com). Hope that helps your research. In fact, if you are looking for and all round Mud & Snow, these look like there are going to wear very well.

Cheers, Steve
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Capt. Mike

Disturbing news about Michelin!

Well, I guess the marketing crowd has taken over running Michelin. And they are getting their 'customer service' guidelines from the same guys that handled the French PR over Iraq.

The wife's X-Ones went. No, nothing catastrophic, just slam wore out after 44,167 miles. Now that might be acceptable if they weren't guaranteed for 80,000 miles and were priced accordingly! We submitted the routine warranty claim. My thought is 44167/80000 ths is about 55%.

Wrong! Michelin's math says 87%. So I get a lovely $15 or so a tire back. Michelin's justification -- well the tires were 5 years old and we only figure them to last 6 years so that's all we're paying, regardless of mileage warranty. I guess the only way they honor mileage warranties is if you do it all in less than a year. Now I'm sorry I replaced them with other Michelin's -- it will be my last set.

Oh, to add insult to injury, they won't accept 5-tire rotation mileage. If you do their 5-tire rotation recommendation, they penalize you for it! On top of this, rotations MUST be done at an authroized Michelin dealer and they must make entries in your warranty log. Rotating yourself or having done at a shop isn't good enough.

Customer service is so bad it's laughable. The new Harmony tires we put on the wife's car are rated at 1168 lb. load at 44 psi. That's higher than the usual 32-35 psi I normally run, and higher than MBenz's 29 psi, so I asked Michelin for the load vs. psi chart, much like the one I've posted for Bridgestone tires. They said they'd send it to me but all I got was a stupid brochure.

Then the customer non-service gal says well, use the vehicle recommendations. It wasn't until I got right nasty that they were jeopradizing safety and I'd hold them responsible that she finally agreed to look it up. Didn't they learn anything from the Firestone fiasco?

If I use the vehicle recommendations, the tire will no longer suport the maximum weight requirements. What will it support? They don't give that out. She finally condescended to give me the numbers for the lower of the pressures I usually run, 32 psi. Geez! Get a clue lady; quit letting the lawyers run your marketing.

A final note: Now I hear Michelin has started running various grades of the same tire. I was real pleased with the wear I'm getting on my truck out of LTX A/T's. I'm told they have 3 grade levels of the same tire and the performance varies widely. I knew that tire was listed in their catalog twice, once under LT tires for pick-ups & vans, and again under Commerical, but didn't know they were different tires! But they have different SKU numbers, specs & prices. How can you tell? You can't, but a really big Michelin distributor with a little pull can. Plus some aren't listed in the catalog. It's a criminal shame because the average dealer will just go to the catalog for your model & size. Hope somebody sues their butts!
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Capt. Mike

Vredestein tires

Vredestein is an old-line Dutch tire manufacturer. They have a good reputation and are OE on many vehicles. They produce for a large market segment and have many tires for commercial, van and winter applications.

One tire that interests me is the "Transport Snow" It is available in 185R14C with load & speed rating 102/100N, and 195/75R14C 106/104P. Both are suitable for Westies.

The tire is for vans & light trucks in all winter conditions. It has a very good and aggressive treat pattern suitable for cross-country vehicles. They are studdable. My question to Vredestein was are they suitable for year-around, all weather and majority paved road use. Their answer was, "Year around use is OK"

Note that although their load rating is "C", this is the European C and the actual numbers for their 185R14C 8PR are 1874/1764 lb. and 87 mph; the 195/75R14C 8PR are 2094/1984 and 94 mph. All far over my Westy's ability. They said they can be used at vehicle recommended pressures, which might allow them to run less than the full pressure so many other require for load rating. Maybe something short of the bone-jarring 50 or 65 lb. the rest seem to need.

I'm impressed enough I'm now trying to track down a dealer/wholesaler. They have given me Dellinger brothers tire in North Carolina 704-599-8442 or Jim Breault Tire in NJ 800-897-3489.

:eek: Embarrasement -- I asked for the UTQC numbers, the ones for wear index, traction and heat. Got reminded that the UTQC only applies to passenger car tires, not truck or commercial. However, I'm going to guess that a tire designed for the delivery van and commercial market will get pretty fair wear. Many thanks to Al Smoke, President, who answered my email direct.

[6/1/07 Update: Vredestein has discontinued the Transport Snow. The replacement is uni-directional and therefore not suitable for the Westy, which requires rotations other than front to back.]
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New member
I've just read through the thread on tire selection and discovered how ignorant I am as I set about buying a new set for my 90 synchro, and how great it is to have westfalia.org as a resource. I noted the comments about Kirkland and Nokian tires, but when I went to their web sites, both said they didn't have a model available for the "camper synchro". Does this mean that the products referred to in various postings to this thread are technically not approved, or that regardless of what these mfgr. web sites say, one can go by the technical ratings on load, pressure, speed, sidewall, etc. and select accordingly. Thanks.

Capt. Mike

What you are running into is the conflict between lawyers, manufacturers and 'specs'. Right now, there are almost no manufacturers that make a tire to meet the original VW size & specs. Remember, VW called for a 'reinforced' tire in sizes 185R14r, 185R14C8PR or 205/70R14r. Most 'tire selectors' on web sites will reference OE replacements and there aren't any.

There is NO difference in specs required for a Camper Syncro vs. any other camper or Vanagon. However, see the warnings elsewhere in this topic about mixing sizes, makes or even degrees of wear.

What we now face is having to substitute and that means going to something in the light truck line where there are different specification and rating standards, often requiring higher pressures to achieve the Westy GVWR.

Thus you can understand the tire manufacturer's reluctance to "recommend" a tire that doesn't comply exactly with the VW OE specs. They face the risk the user may run it at reduced pressures per owners manual instead of load psi. And for every lawyer lined up to sue them over failures from low pressure, there's another one ready to sue for running at higher than VW specs.

It's a valid argument -- the differences in construction between LT and 'reinforced' tires means compromises. You'll have to decide between mounting your Westy on a set of concrete blocks or using a tire that doesn't meet OE specs but suffices, accepting the risks that go with it. This is not a recommendation, just a fact of life.


New member
Question re aspect ratio number:

I'm calling some local dealers to see about Nokian Hakapelitta tires that have been mentioned on this list. This is for a 1990 Syncro camper. The combination of performance and quiet ride that have been mentioned are attractive. They appear to have CQ and C2 models for winter driving and a CS line for all-season 185R14. Since there is no aspect ratio number in there, I asked the dealer and he said it was 80. The aspect ratio doesn't seem to get as much attention on the discussion board as the width and wheel size, load rating, etc. but 80 is higher than either the 75 typically mentioned with the 195 and the 70 mentioned with the 205. Can someone tell me how to evaluate whether an aspect ratio of 80 or whatever is acceptable for use on my vehicle? TIA.

Capt. Mike

When no aspect ratio is stated in the size, it's usually 78, 80 or 82. The differences are small. The spread in effective gearing from 78 to 82 aspect ratio is only 2.7%. This translates into a change in mph at 3000 rpm of 1.26 mph.

If you "do the math" you will note the rolling circumfrance seems to remain close at 10mm width for 5% on aspect ratio. i.e. an increase in width of 10mm such as 195/75 to 205/70 will be balanced by the 5% reduction in aspect ratio. This is very rough and only holds for a limited range. Changing width without changing aspect ratio has the reverse effect. A typical 185 (80) will have a diameter of 25.65"; the 195 (80) will be 26.28". Going to a 195/75 will return it to 25.52"; a 205/70, 25.30". The oversize 195 (80) is a 3.9% effective change in gear ratios; the other "OEM" sizes all within a 1.4% range.

Do remember width gains are a trade-off. Wider tires may offer more traction in dry conditions and thus better braking & handling at extremes. However, the narrower tires may sipe water better and actually provide better traction is certain slippery conditions since you are increasing the lb. per sq. in. of the contact patch. The narrower tires will generally give better mileage and reduce tire temperatures. The Westy's OE range of 185 - 205 is only 3/4" -- probably not a significant change within its very limited performance and speed ranges. I'd consider tire pattern, suitability for intended use and load/pressure characteristics more important than the size & aspect ratio within those ranges.


In talking to several people, including the tire guys, the nokian is far and away the best winter tire out there.(albiet expensive) However it was recomended that I NOT buy them unless I was going to change them out seasonaly. It seem there is something in the rubber chemistry that gives them terrible tread life if run during warm weather. Can anyone confirm? I really can't afford two sets of wheels, and I don't want to change out five tires twice a year.


I found a set of rims gratis, bought 5 hakapelita cs's Stick like glue, see the posts in the snow tire section. I'd never go back to Michelen "all seasons) in the cascade crud.


Moderator Note: Nokian makes an all-season van tire, the NRC2, in 185R14 102S suitable for the Westy.


New member
Tread life was a concern for me before I bought the Nokian CS. I was looking for off-road ability as well as winter traction, so I wanted something that would have good year-round life. I found only two Vanagon posts, that were from year-round drivers who had 20 and 25k year-round miles, and both reported very little wear. The Nokian rep said that tread life was a design requirement and that they relied on tread design and siping (which cools the tread) for traction, instead of a soft compound.

I initially heard some similar concerns about the Nokians, but I think they were based on experience with another great winter performer, Blizzaks. We have those on two of our cars, and they do wear quickly on dry pavement because of their very soft outer compounding. We have summer tires mounted for those cars. On the Blizzaks, the first 1/3 of the tread lasted about 10 -12k miles, but the wear slowed when they got into the harder compound. We replaced the first set at 38k miles. They are not as fun to drive as summer performance tires, so it's nice to have the others mounted.

The Nokian rubber feels a lot harder than the Blizzaks, and the handling is excellent. The van has good, crisp turn-in, unlike a soft compound snow tire. I don't have enough miles on mine to predict a life expectancy, but they're certainly not wearing quickly. I've been attacking our mountain roads, and it's been really hot this summer.


New member
I have a 90 Westfalia camper with Michelin MXT tires (205/70R14 reinforced). I need to replace one tire. I know that Michelin no longer makes the MXT. I have searched several websites trying to find a similar size that is heavy duty enough for my van with no success. I have found 195/75R14 from Yokohama which I think are suitable. But if I switch sizes, I have to buy 4 new tires. My other 3 tires are in good shape.Does the 205/70R14 size exist anywhere?