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Thread: Choosing Fuel Efficient 15 Wheels and Tires

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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Choosing Fuel Efficient 15 Wheels and Tires

    I like my Mirage, but the stance of the car with OEM wheels and tires was killing me. Do I really have to putt around on undersized wheels and tiny Enasaves to maintain great gas mileage? I’m about to find out!

    Since the day I bought the car new, my 2015 ES 5-speed had been averaging 50+ mpg with careful driving. If I can maintain that with better looking wheels/tires, I’ll be satisfied. I’m not a serious hyper-miler, so I’m not concerned about a slight loss of aerodynamic efficiency from wider tires or spoked wheels.

    I spent weeks researching options before finally selecting new wheels/tires. I’m including as much info in this post as I can to help anyone else considering new wheels and tires. Remember that my goal isn't to find the largest wheels/tires I can squeeze under the car. I'm looking for the best combination of larger size and efficiency.


    [ NOTE: If you don’t need the details, just go to my Fuel Efficient 15-Inch Wheels and Tires thread. ]



    My Goal: Upgrade to 15” wheels without impacting fuel economy

    My approach was to achieve this following these guidelines:

    1) Minimize the weight of the new wheel/tire combination
    2) Use the best low rolling resistance tire available

    I also wanted to maintain speedometer accuracy. So the diameter of the new tire had to be close to the diameter of a 165-65-14 (22.4 inches).



    3 main reasons I'm ditching my OEM wheels/tires

    1) Simply put...they don't look good on the car. The wheels are too small and have the wrong offset. You can try a different size 14" tire...but it's not going to affect the appearance of the car as long as you're using factory wheels. You could just buy some wheel spacers, but you would need some really wide (at least 1"+) spacers to overcome the positive offset of the OEM wheels.

    2) 165-65-14 is an unusual tire size used only on the Mirage (at least in the US). The result is a non-existent selection of quality tires (there are only 2 low rolling resistance, all-season tire options in this size at the Tire Rack). I know there are some cheap no-name brands of tires floating around out there at WalMart/Pep Boys/etc, but I'm not interested in going that route. I've never been disappointed spending a little extra on quality tires.

    3) Most small cars in the US use 15" wheels these days. Choosing a popular 15" tire size will open up a much wider selection of all types of tires...including several low rolling resistance options.



    Tire Size Choice: 175-55-15 or 185-55-15

    My tire selection came down to a 175-55-15 or 185-55-15. I didn’t consider 195-50-15 because there are no LRR tires in that size and those tires are several pounds heavier than OEM Enasaves.

    175-55-15

    This is the default choice as it is identical in diameter to 14” Enasaves and is used on Mirage models with 15" wheels. Unfortunately, the selection of 175-55-15's is just as bad as the selection of 165-65-14's. I think Tire Rack shows 1 all-season low rolling resistance tire in this size?!?

    The other issue with 175-55-15 tires is finding a proper width wheel. A 175 tire fits best on a 5-6” wide wheel. I couldn’t find any light weight 15” wheels in this range.

    Conclusion:
    175-55-15 tires aren’t a good option. These weren’t going to fit well on the wheels I was finding, and there aren’t many all-season LRR tires available in this size. Beyond that, a 175 tire isn’t much wider than a 165…so the visual impact I’m looking for will be limited.


    185-55-15

    This was my other tire consideration. It’s 0.5 inches taller than 14” Enasaves (23” vs 22.4”), so the speedometer will be slow by 2.5% (60mph on the speedometer means the car is actually going 61.5 mph). I can live with that.

    185-55-15s have been OEM equipment on several late-model cars including the Aveo, Spark, Mazda2, Fit and Fiat 500…so there’s a HUGE selection of these tires available. Tire Rack carries 25 different tires in this size, with at least 6 LRR options!

    The weight of 185-55-15 tires varies by a few pounds depending on the manufacturer. The lightest 185s are only 3 pounds heavier than a 165-65-14 Enasave.

    This tire has another advantage that became apparent once I started wheel shopping. The lightest 15” wheel I found (with the correct offset) was 6.5” wide, and a 185 tire fits well on this width.

    Conclusion:
    185-55-15s appear to be a great tire for my goal…
    1) There are lots of tires to choose from (including several LRR tires)
    2) They fit well on 6.5” wide wheels
    3) They aren’t much heavier than 14” Enasaves
    4) They have the visual impact I’m looking for (they look "big" next to Enasaves)

    The only downside is the mild speedometer error this tire introduces, but a 1.5mph error at 60mph isn’t a deal breaker for me.



    My Final Tire Choice: 185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus

    I chose this tire for the following reasons…

    1) Bridgestone’s Ecopia line is highly rated, and the EP422 Plus is their latest LRR tire
    2) It’s one of the lightest 185-55-15 tires available (~15.5 lbs)
    3) It has an excellent tread wear rating for a LRR tire (70,000 miles)
    4) It has a maximum inflation pressure of 51psi
    5) I've used Ecopias on a previous car and was happy with them
    6) These tires have a similar contact patch to 165 Enasaves (see below)

    You can see a brief Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus video here: EP422 Plus Video



    Look at this… 185 = 165

    Here’s an interesting observation I made when comparing the tread design of 185-55-15 Ecopias to 165-65-14 Enasaves…

    185s on 6.5” wheels look big compared to Enasaves on 4.5” wheels, but these 2 tires have nearly identical contact patches! Wait...how is that possible?!? The Ecopias have 3 very wide groves in the tread design. When you actually measure the width of the tread contacting the road, these two tires are almost the same. With an Ecopia 185 on a 6.5"wheel, you get the visual impact of a “beefy” looking tire with the contact patch of an Enasave on a 4.5" wheel.

    I drew the following diagram to illustrate what I’m talking about. It's not 100% to scale, but the measurements are accurate and these are actual photos of the tread designs...





    Ecopias = more tread

    Bridgestone Ecopias have 11/32" of tread depth when new.
    For comparison, new Enasaves only have 9/32" of tread depth.

    TREAD LIFE UPDATE:
    After 30,000 miles of driving, my Ecopias have worn down to between 8/32-9/32" of tread depth...which is the same amount of tread a new Enasave has.




    Wheel Considerations


    Wheel Weight Goal: 13 lbs or less

    14x4.5” OEM alloy wheels weigh slightly over 13 lbs each…so that was my weight limit for any new wheels I would consider. I was hoping to reduce the wheel weight to offset the slightly heavier 185 tires. I’m already changing to a heavier tire, so I wasn’t going to get heavier wheels, too.

    NOTE: Using a good low rolling resistance tire is more important to fuel mileage than a few pounds of weight on the wheel. If you find a heavier wheel that you really like, just make sure you choose a good LRR tire to go with it. Try to keep the overall wheel/tire weight within reason...like no more than 32 pounds or so. Combining a heavy wheel with a non-LRR tire is a recipe for significantly reduced fuel mileage.

    TIP: Be careful wheel shopping for aftermarket 15" wheels. If a manufacturer doesn’t have the weight of the wheel listed anywhere, it’s probably heavier than you think!


    Wheel Width: 6.5”

    I chose 6.5” wide wheels because 185-55-15 tires will fit them, and these wheels tended to have the best combination of lighter weight and proper offset for the Mirage. There are light weight 15x7 wheels available, but 7” is too wide for 185 tires and these wheels usually have the wrong offset (causing them to stick out beyond the fenders...especially on the front).


    My Final Wheel Choice: 15 x 6.5” Konig Helium

    I decided that the Konig Helium is the best combination of proper fit, light weight, good looks, and reasonable price. This wheel is a replica of the super-lightweight, forged Volk Racing CE28N wheel. A single 15x6.5 Volk CE28N weighs an amazing 8.75 lbs...and costs more than $550+!!! Add another $50 for each center cap...




    Weight

    Konig Heliums are advertised as weighing 11.4 lbs (Amazon.com says 13.5 lbs), but mine only weighed 11 pounds, 2 ounces on an accurate postal scale. That’s 2 lbs LIGHTER than 14x4.5” OEM alloy wheels!


    Offset

    The 15 x 6.5” Konig Helium has a 40mm offset. When mounted on a Mirage, the face of this wheel sits about 1.25 inches further out than a stock wheel. With 185 tires mounted on these wheels, the wheel wells now look “full” and the car no longer looks like it’s sitting on undersized wheels that are pushed too far under the fenders.


    Price

    Konig Heliums cost $85/each on Amazon.com and are available at a similar price at other vendors.
    TIP: Buy the wheels from Discount Tire when they are running one of their “$100 OFF 4 WHEELS” promotions.



    Are There Any Light Weight OEM Wheels Worth Considering?

    There are several late-model cars (like the Mazda2/Mini) with decent looking 15x6 wheels that would fit well on a Mirage. Unfortunately, factory alloy wheels are almost always heavier than they look and I couldn’t find any light weight possibilities…so I scrapped that idea.

    Well...I did find one interesting OEM 15x5.5 wheel that only weighs 12 lbs. You can see it in this thread: Alternative light-weight 15 inch wheels


    Questions about this wheel/tire combination?

    Check out my related thread here: Fuel Efficient 15-Inch Wheels and Tires


    Last edited by Top_Fuel; 09-13-2017 at 05:50 PM.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.6 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 62.0 mpg (Imp)


  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Top_Fuel For This Useful Post:

    Eggman (06-06-2016),emdeplam (08-11-2016),Inudalek (06-06-2016),Marklovski (10-10-2016)

  3. #2
    Moderator Eggman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Fuel View Post
    Well...I did find one interesting OEM 15x6 wheel that only weighs 12 lbs. I'll make a new thread about that wheel for anyone who may not be ready to buy new wheels.
    I'm interested in this.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 49.3 mpg (US) ... 21.0 km/L ... 4.8 L/100 km ... 59.2 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eggman View Post
    I'm interested in this.
    I forgot all about that. I will gather a few pics and will post an update before the end of the day.

    Edit - Here is the link for anyone wondering: Alternative light weight 15 inch wheels
    Last edited by Top_Fuel; 10-13-2016 at 03:15 PM.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.6 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 62.0 mpg (Imp)


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    Member roscoe1972's Avatar
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    How is the Traction and Responsiveness of the Ecopia EP422 Plus'?
    I have some new 15in wheels on the way and can't decide on tires (185/55). I like sticky responsive tires and am looking at Yoko Avid Ascends and YK740s, but the Ascend is 3lbs heavier than the Ecopia and one review mentions an MPG hit. With our squishy springs, will good tire performance be muted? How "bad" do the Ecopias perform?

  6. #5
    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roscoe1972 View Post
    How is the Traction and Responsiveness of the Ecopia EP422 Plus?
    As strange as this may sound, I can't really give you a worthwhile review of how these tires handle. I drive my Mirage so easily, the tires are never close to the edge of any traction situations. I mainly chose these tires for their low rolling resistance and longer tread life.

    I can tell you that these tires are improved over Bridgestone's original Ecopia design from a few years ago. The "Plus" designation is supposed to mean improved wet and dry traction. I just haven't had an occasion to really put them to any test. The only thing I can verify is that they appear to be a good low rolling resistance tire.

    If you are moving to wider tires for improved handling, keep this in mind. These tires have a wider section width than stock Enasaves, but they don't put any more rubber on the ground because of their tread design (see diagram below). I would think that this may not be a good thing for someone wanting to throw this car into turns.

    Name:  tread compare.jpg
Views: 260
Size:  82.7 KB

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.6 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 62.0 mpg (Imp)


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    Member roscoe1972's Avatar
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    Thanks, I saw a back to back comparison with the Avid Ascend on a Prius forum. The guy said the handling was noticeably different, bu the Ascend had almost a 6mpg worse Mileage. That's hard to stomach for me and I'll likely go with the Ecopias.
    My new wheel is 13.4lbs plus the 16 Ecopia= 29.4lbs.
    I looked at the Helium Wheel but it isn't my style, plus the Ultra-lightness must give up some strength and I've had to replace many wheels due to bad potholes. Thanks Top_fuel for the work that went in to this Thread, I am putting it to use.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roscoe1972 View Post
    My new wheel is 13.4lbs plus the 16 Ecopia= 29.4lbs...
    That sounds great to me. If you're concerned about fuel mileage, I think it's more important to stick with a good low rolling resistance tire than to worry about a few pounds on the wheels. If you've damaged wheels before, I don't blame you for going with stronger ones. Be sure to post up some pics when you get them mounted.

    Don't forget the Bridgestone $70 Rebate that's good until Oct 31.


        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.6 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 62.0 mpg (Imp)


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