/ Wheel-change for VW T5?

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HB1 14 Jun 2019

So my T5 camper has original steel 16" wheels. Most vans seem to have ditched these and owners have chosen alloys in various styles and sizes. I must admit I'm tempted to get some myself (maybe 18")

My question is - do you get a better ride with the bigger, lower-pro wheels/tyres or is it more for show (not necessarily a bad thing!) ?We've just returned from a month in France, so a lot of driving, not always on the best of road surfaces, a bit of a noisy drive altogether. Any advice welcomed!

Tyler 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

I think the theory is that it makes the ride worse. We've just bought one with 20" wheels and my main complaint is that it makes it looks like the van is on stills and needs lowering

tjdodd 14 Jun 2019
In reply to Tyler:

Yes, I had always assumed that the lower profile the tyre the worse the ride.  There is less air in the tyre so less extra suspension effect - I might be wrong though.

It is also worth bearing in mind where you will be driving.  I suspect lower profile tyres are more susceptible to potholes etc and in the rougher car parks you often end up in when going outdoors.  My recollection when I looked into this before was to certainly never go beyond 18" alloys that will provide a good balance of looking good and being comfortable.  I know people with 20" alloys with lowered suspension to get the full effect and they have to drive very very carefully in some places.

Also, make sure you get the correctly rated alloys and tell your insurers - otherwise you most likely won't be insured.

Alternatively don't waste your money to look cool and use the money (probably well in excess of a grand on alloys and tyres) for something meaningful and enjoyable.

robal 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Our t5 has alloys, it came with them, they are just standard boring 16” vw ones. the ride is ok and not different from the steel wheel ones I've driven.

If you go for a larger size say 18” you have to decrease the height of the sidewall of the tyre, to make the overall size of wheel and tyre the same as the standard size the car was designed for. Generally the low profile tyres are stiffer and so they passes all the knocks and bumps through the steering and suspension.

If you don’t choose to keep the wheel/tyre size the same you do run the risk of getting an incorrect reading out of the speedo. And also steering lock problems.

TMM 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Larger wheels typically damage ride quality, reduce rolling resistance and therefore economy, are more prone to damage and require more expensive replacement tyres.

On the upside lots of people think they look nice.

richlan 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

I have left mine on standard 16", no clearance issues, designed as the manufacturer intended, bigger sidewalls so a better ride, better for potholed knackered car parks etc. and also don't have to tell the insurance people

I'm just about to get mine re powered coated before new all seasons go on it

Tyler 14 Jun 2019
In reply to TMM:

> On the upside lots of people think they look nice

They definitely look cool but I wouldn't chooses anything bigger than 17" if they weren't already on

Andrew Lodge 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Not a T5 but my old 3 series estate had 18inch summer wheels and 16 inch winter ones, the difference in ride was considerable, on broken surfaces the bigger wheels give a much worse ride. Things like speed bumps become much more of a nuisance.

On a smooth motorway there is very little difference in ride, the handling is a little better with bigger wheels and less tyre, fuel consumption was no different in my case.

The bigger tyres cost more (a lot more) so factor that into your thinking.

Hooo 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

My T5 camper came with the original 16" steel rims. I've done a bit of Googling and reading around and I've not heard of any advantages whatsoever to changing them for anything else. There are loads of downsides though: alloys are more likely to get damaged, less likely to be repairable and more expensive to replace. They are more likely to get stolen, so you need locking wheel nuts with the hassle that entails. The tyres are more expensive and don't last as long. The ride is harsher.

It says something about VW van owners that so many of them are willing to put up with all the downsides for the sake of looking flash. Personally I prefer the look of steel wheels anyway, oversized flashy alloys look like something off a chav's hot hatchback.

Rick Graham 14 Jun 2019
In reply to Hooo:

+1

Also all the alloy wheels I have had  have leaked air.

The steel ones usually only need new air when the tyre gets changed.

HB1 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Thanks for all your replies! They confirm what I'd read elsewhere. I will keep the steels (the VW wheeltrims are smart enough I reckon) I confirmed after a month on French roads that people there are not too bothered about looking "cool" with BIG alloys! It must be a Brit thing. As  suggested I will be able to spend the cash needed on . . .

               . . . another long trip perhaps!

Gustavo 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

You get a lot more miles out of standard wheels and tires. I've done 200k miles in my t5 and change the tyres every 30k or so. 

Gustavo 14 Jun 2019
In reply to Andrew Lodge:

Bigger tyres cost more and must also be load rated for the vehicle, (as must the wheels).

John W 14 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Try repairing a pothole-knackered steel wheel with a sledgehammer, like we did in Greece - no problem whatsoever. Now try it with an alloy...

kevin stephens 15 Jun 2019
In reply to HB we bought  some smart 16 inch alloys with continental Vanco tyres and they have been great, comfortable, drive well and seem to last. Big wheels and skinny tyres seem pointless on a van. Top quality tyres make a big difference 

Climbpsyched 15 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Hi, I've had both and I wouldn't touch big wheels again. Yes they look amazing and lowering the van also makes it look even better but the ride is worse. Steel wheels are way more practical and much less likely to puncture. You can still get some good looking steel wheels though. Search for steel banded wheels. Also you can get alloys and still have a good chunk of rubber around them that isn't low profile such as the VW standard alloys that come on the fancier models. I think they are currently 17"

1
captain paranoia 15 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

I was all ready to suggest a jack and a wheel brace...

Wainers44 15 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Have a T5with alloys and skinnyish tyres. Looks great and I think the ride is fine so won't be changing it!  

1
tripehound 16 Jun 2019
In reply to HB1:

Low profile tyres are more expensive and give apoorer ride. Stick with the 16 inch.

r0x0r.wolfo 16 Jun 2019
In reply to TMM:

> Larger wheels typically damage ride quality, reduce rolling resistance and therefore economy, are more prone to damage and require more expensive replacement tyres.

> On the upside lots of people think they look nice.

Sorry to be a pedantic but reducing rolling resistance actually increases economy. 

robal 18 Jun 2019
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

thats what i thought too, might be a typo or something tho


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