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Newbie tire question - help please?
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Paully
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:08 am    Post subject: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Hello all!
15 years I've been lurking as a wanna be Westfalia owner and last week I pulled the trigger on a nice 1987 Vanagon. I'm expecting it to arrive early this week (I hope), but I know it needs new tires. Currently it has 14".

My plead for help is to understand my options for new tires. I've read a ton and there are so many caveats to tires, or so it seems to a newbie like me. With winter approaching I really want to get it out for a few short camping trips before the flakes fly. From what I understand, here is my setup info and options for tires as I understand it now:

1. Setup now is 14" on stock shocks and springs; van is 2WD and engine is the 2.1L original. I'll likely replace it in the coming years with a GoWesty boxer or similar.
2. My intent is likely close to 50/50 for on/off road. My on road will be to get to some of the many forest roads which give access to a ridiculous number of lakes in this region. I also intend long drives to east/west coast of Canada. But even on these trips, I hope to find nice sideroads for camping and to explore. No intention of going into bouldering or serious offroading.

So, from this, I think my options are:
1. Set of micheline defenders for longer road trips? Or would you recommend sticking to a KO2 or General Grabber type tire for all usage?
2. I'd like to go with larger tires (16"?) as everything I've read seems to indicate it's a much better experience, BUT
(and here's where I get lost)
3. IF I go to a 16" on my stock spring/shock automatic 1987 Westfalia, will I need to upgrade shocks/springs/add spacers/etc.?
4. My goal is to get on the road quickly so I'm not sure what the best route is. Throw something on the 14" rims for now and take care of 16" rims/tires/springs/etc. in the springtime? Or are rims/tires fairly easy to find on short notice?

Bit of a ramble, and I know some/all of this has been posted before. I'm a bit out of my game figuring this out on my own and look to you for help.

Kind regards all!


Last edited by Paully on Sun Oct 04, 2020 8:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:27 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Just ordered 5 General Grabbers from Tire Rack. $100 rebate right now. Waiting on the rims to come back from powder coat. Tire size was 27 x 8.5 x 14.

There are not a lot of choices for the 14s. If you want a highway tire only. Check eBay. There is a seller with Federal 14s. Problem is the are date coded a couple years old. But a great price to get some new rubber on the van.

Larger rims open up your options, but may not be where you need to spend your money on a new to you van.

Edit: simple and easy is to buy the rims from a vanagon specific vendor. I purchased 16 alloys for my other van from Go Westy. No mods or spacers. They bolt on and you are done.

I considered new alloys for the syncro mainly because I was getting a quote for $100 each for powder coat and I needed 5 rims. The GW alloys arenít much more. But I wanted the spare to fit stock and the syncro requires 5 identical tires. With the $100 rebate and I negotiated $75 each for the powder coat decided to stay stock. I also like the factory alloy look. Bigger rims will allow bigger brakes at a later date. I have stock brakes on both vans.

There are a lot of other rim choices that can require machining, spacers or both. Christopher at T3 is a good source for help with fitting rims.
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Last edited by MarkWard on Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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davideric9
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:29 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Its important to get tire with reinforced sidewall, load range C or D. Michelin Defenders are not OK, KO2 no longer available in 14 inch. I think the General Grabber may be your best choice.

I cant speak to increase in rim size.
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Paully
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:38 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Thanks! No issues with general grabbers, 14Ē, for wheel well clearance?

Definitely want to gradually upgrade a lot of items but the grabbers in 14Ē is likely the best route it seems for now.

Thanks again, really helps to quell the second guessing having your inputs!
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:48 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

I updated my post to include rim experience. The syncro has WildCat 27 x 8.5 x 14s without any tire interference so far, so I assume the Generals will clear as well. That said, the syncro at stock ride height has more fender well clearance.

On my 82, the 16s on the first set of tires, was very close to the front lower fender lip. So you might be tight with the Generals at stock ride on a 2wd.

I went to a lower profile 16 on my second set, not for clearance, but a ratio change.
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 8:41 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Agree with staying with the 14s for now. You will have just as much fun and be on the road sooner. Then after you have had a chance to evaluate the things that need improvement on the van, you can factor that in with whether you want to go with 16s. Enjoy autumn!
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Crooked Designer
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 8:57 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Seems odd to think about buying 4 tires now and then again in the spring for 16Ē wheels. From everything Iíve read if youíre doing long distances youíll want the bigger (and wider wheels). One option would be to get bolt on 16Ē ASA wheels (The alloy sets that go westy sells) now and take them to a tire shop and Have them put defenders on. (Or grabbers, but I canít speak to the clearance on those.) when you get your van, you change all 4 wheels and youíre ready to roll. This would definitely be the easiest way to avoid doing it twice. and itís well documented here that they fit stock spring height.

This will also save you the headache of the tire shop second guessing your tires on the van (also 16Ē wheels will open up a lot more options for tires that at the right load rating)

My 2Ę

*edit. By ďbolt onĒ I mean you wonít need spacers or adjustments made. Theyíre ready to be put on as is.
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Paully
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 9:14 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Crooked Designer wrote:
Seems odd to think about buying 4 tires now and then again in the spring for 16Ē wheels. From everything Iíve read if youíre doing long distances youíll want the bigger (and wider wheels). One option would be to get bolt on 16Ē ASA wheels (The alloy sets that go westy sells) now and take them to a tire shop and Have them put defenders on. (Or grabbers, but I canít speak to the clearance on those.) when you get your van, you change all 4 wheels and youíre ready to roll. This would definitely be the easiest way to avoid doing it twice. and itís well documented here that they fit stock spring height.


Issue is shipping times. Iím in Canada and shipping from USA is slow right now. I canít get the van on the road without certifying which requires new tires.

Crooked Designer wrote:
This will also save you the headache of the tire shop second guessing your tires on the van (also 16Ē wheels will open up a lot more options for tires that at the right load rating)


This is where my confusion lies; going to 16Ē grabber or KO2ís on an Ď87 2wd with stock springs and shocks ... Iím not sure if theyíd fit. Iíve read yes but also heard new zero or 1.5Ē springs (go westy) are needed but then that since itís automatic that the 930 cv kit (Iím wording this part badly) is needed. Again, any ordering or installation keeps me off the road for the fall. Not huge in the long run, but if 14ís grabber tires are ok and would work for the next year or two as I modify and upgrade stuff on the van Iím wondering if thatís the best route.

Sounds like I have my mind made up to 14ís, but I donít. Iím flipping back and forth and with the 16Ē option is where Iím most confused. Would 16Ē grabbers on new 16Ē rims just fit or will they hit on every little or moderate bump. I dunno. Learning and eager I guess.

Make sense?
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 9:29 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

I went back and forth for a month in my head. I ended up going with my original thought. The rebate and the negotiated price on the powder coat helped.

Bigger tires have more rolling resistance = less mpg and have more rotating mass for the brakes to absorb = extended stopping distance.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 9:30 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

I wouldn't spring for larger wheels unless you are going with larger brakes which require them. 27/8.5r14's are tough tires and weigh in several pounds heavier than 185r14 or even 195r14's because of the extra material that goes in to them. The 27/8.5r14 are a bit softer in feel than the 185r14 - 195r14's and thus are a little squirrelier on the highway, but give you better flotation and traction off road.

I had 27/8.5r14's on my Multivan, but because of the low stance they rubbed quite a bit, but on my 83 1/2 they work very well. I also have them on my 77 bay.
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Paully
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 9:38 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
I wouldn't spring for larger wheels unless you are going with larger brakes which require them. 27/8.5r14's are tough tires and weigh in several pounds heavier than 185r14 or even 195r14's because of the extra material that goes in to them. The 27/8.5r14 are a bit softer in feel than the 185r14 - 195r14's and thus are a little squirrelier on the highway, but give you better flotation and traction off road.

I had 27/8.5r14's on my Multivan, but because of the low stance they rubbed quite a bit, but on my 83 1/2 they work very well. I also have them on my 77 bay.


sorry, Iím not familiar with the ďmultivanĒ term. Does that apply to my 1987 Westfalia?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 10:05 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

There's a guy that just put a set of 14" General Grabbers on his van. He did see a loss of power with the taller tires though.

I plan on getting a set of 220/70R14's for my stock '85.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=9470796#9470796

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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 10:17 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Paully wrote:
Wildthings wrote:
I had 27/8.5r14's on my Multivan, but because of the low stance they rubbed quite a bit, but on my 83 1/2 they work very well. I also have them on my 77 bay.


sorry, Iím not familiar with the ďmultivanĒ term. Does that apply to my 1987 Westfalia?


The Multivans and Carats had a lower stance then other Vanagons. If you have a heavily loaded rig with standard springs you might run into the same problem as well, can't say for sure.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

You can still find suitable 14" tires, but the selection is not great. But be careful with going to a taller tire as it really changes your effective gear ratio. Stock tires are about 25.5" in diameter, with 791 revolutions per mile, whereas the 27/8.5's are 27" in diameter with 747 revolutions per mile. Big difference, and you will notice the performance in mileage and acceleration.

Take a look at BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO's if you want a more aggressive tread (noisy at fwy speeds) or Yokohama Y356's for a better road tire that isn't terrible off road.

As others have said, I'd save my big money for unexpected must haves, and there will be more than expected with any "new" Vanagon, and go for the tire/wheel upgrade once those are resolved. All the great traction in the world doesn't help if you're broken down out on some forest service road Laughing

Enjoy your new Van!
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

ASA Type 8 - 16Ē is same as what go westy and others sell. They sell type 9 also. Might want to confirm the offset, but Iím pretty sure these are the same.

https://www.greenleaftire.ca/asa-wheels.html
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:32 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

We went with the Hankook Vantra 195R14s to replace our 13 year old Yokohama Supervan 185R14s. Spare just fit in the clamshell with a little extra force. Much better ride than the old tires and the slightly bigger size fills in the wheel wells a bit better than the old 185s.
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Paully
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:38 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

wbailey2112 wrote:
We went with the Hankook Vantra 195R14s to replace our 13 year old Yokohama Supervan 185R14s. Spare just fit in the clamshell with a little extra force. Much better ride than the old tires and the slightly bigger size fills in the wheel wells a bit better than the old 185s.


Thanks! Pretty hard to find available 14Ē options. Several tire stores insist the general grabbers 14Ē doesnít exist. Hopefully this is an option here.

Thanks again all for the feedback. Much appreciated!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:56 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

The advantage of using a vendor with rims that just bolt on is that you might get away with not having to change the lug studs on the rears. If you start wandering into Mercedes rims on craigslist or such, then you need to pull the King nut off the rear axles and remove and press in new lugs. That is if you can't find the 'grail' of Merc rims know to be direct fit, the 1998-2000 CLK rims. I think you might still need to drill the lug holes out slightly on those even.

Another topic is that you can find tires in 15" or 16" that are actually going to give an overall smaller diameter. It's not easy to do it, but can be. I put some money into the engine to bump the performance a bit to then afford a larger diameter. I run 215/60/16 load 99, which are 26.1" so just over a half inch taller. I still find plenty of times where I curse that 1/2" bump...

I run an '87 full Westy, so fairly similar to yours.

Also, have you actually driven a stock engined stock tire sized Vanagon? To do what you want on rough roads, you might be best off turning your attention to the so-called 2WD transaxle. Unless you got really lucky and have a 40% diff, you will nearly certainly have what is known affectionately as 1WD, since you spin one wheel, and the other won't pull traction at all. Whoops! Solution is something like a Peloquins TBD. Get ready for a reality check on what stuff costs on these antiques.

-bobby
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Just to make this very clear, a new post:

I don't know about your locality, but, don't test your luck on tires/rims/etc. at a tire service center.

TAKE your RIMS off the Vanagon, and TAKE them to the shop in another vehicle.

Many shops will only work within the boundaries for your vehicle, and this is usually "C" or heavier. (Some non Westfalia's have passenger rated)

This has cost many members here a LOT of agony.

I somewhat fear a road issue where I can't readily get help from a shop due to this kind of gripe.

-bobby
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie tire question - help please? Reply with quote

Finally got my 14Ē General Grabbers in from Amazon. Contacted several local tire stores who all said they couldnít get them. But disappointed as I like shopping local. Looks good. Will post a side pick tomorrow when itís lighter out. Thanks all for the input!! First road trip next weekend. Woohoo!!
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