I'm running a 15-inch wheel/tire combination worth considering if you want to improve your Mirage’s appearance/handling without sacrificing fuel economy. I've driven over 60,000 miles on this setup and it challenges the idea that a Mirage needs small wheels/tires for big MPG numbers.
This isn't the biggest set of wheels/tires that will fit on a Mirage, but it does represent a more aggressive looking and fuel-efficient alternative to the Mirage's undersized OEM wheels/tires.
WARNING: GET A 4-WHEEL ALIGNMENT ! ! !
Don't even think about changing wheels/tires until your Mirage passes a 4-wheel alignment check.
If your Mirage has a rear wheel alignment problem, you want this corrected while you still have the OEM wheels/tires on the car to keep the warranty process simple. Dealers will blame aftermarket wheels and non-OEM size tires for any alignment issues you have. That's a load of BS...but why take a chance? ALWAYS GET AN ALIGNMENT CHECK DONE FIRST.
Wheels....15 x 6.5 Konig Helium (40mm offset)
Tires.......185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus
Why did you choose these particular wheels/tires?
Konig Helium wheels had the best combination of fitment, light weight and reasonable price.
Bridgestone Ecopia tires had the best combination of low rolling resistance and long tread life.
For more details about how I selected these wheels/tires, see this thread.
How much does this combination weigh compared to OEM wheels/tires?
TIRE BRAND/MODEL WHEEL SIZE TOTAL WEIGHT (lbs) 165-65-14 Dunlop Enasave OEM Alloy 14 x 4.5 26 175-55-15 Yokohama Avid S34 OEM Alloy 15 x 5.5 29 (estimate) 185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia Konig Helium 15 x 6.5 27
How do these fit on the car compared to OEM wheels?
This wheel-size.com image shows how the large fender clearance of OEM wheels is significantly reduced by using 15 x 6.5" wheels with less offset...
This willtheyfit.com image compares my wheel/tire setup to the OEM 14" wheel/tire…
You can see that the tires easily clear the front/rear fenders...
Do these tires rub or have clearance problems?
I have stock springs and have experienced no clearance issues. I've had 4 adults in the car driving over speed bumps, etc...and have never had anything rub. The front wheels can also be turned lock-to-lock without any concern.
What air pressure are you running in the tires?
I keep the tires at 50 PSI (the max rating on the sidewall is 51 PSI) and the tires have no signs of over-inflation wear.
How has your fuel economy been with these wheels/tires?
I have averaged 51+ mpg for over 60,000 miles on these wheels/tires (60% highway/40% city driving). I drive conservatively to maximize my fuel mileage, but I don't do any serious hyper-miler tricks like engine-off coasting, etc. My lifetime fuel economy log is only with these wheels/tires.
How can this wheel/tire combination be as efficient as the smaller OEM setup?
Consider the following…
- This wheel/tire only weighs 1 pound more than a 14” factory alloy wheel and 165 Enasave
- The Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus incorporates the latest advances in LRR tire design
- These tires have a shorter/more rigid sidewall and support higher inflation pressures than a 165-65-14. These properties should allow the tire to maintain its shape better as it rolls, resulting in less rolling resistance. At least it sounds good in theory.
Do 185-55-15 tires affect the speedometer accuracy?
185-55-15's cause the speedometer to read 2.5% below the car's actual speed because they are half an inch taller (23") than OEM 165-65-14's (22.4"). The difference is so minor you can't detect it. The chart below shows various speedometer readings with 185-55-15 tires...
Speedometer Reading (MPH) Actual Speed 40 41.0 50 51.2 60 61.5 70 71.8 80 82.0 100 102.5
When my ScanGauge indicates 60mph, my Garmin GPS shows 61 mph.
TIP: Compare speedometer readings with different tires using this Speedometer Calibration Calculator
Do you have to adjust your mileage formula for these tires?
With slightly taller tires, the car is traveling further than the odometer indicates. When reading the number of miles driven, just add 2.5% to that number. If the trip odometer says 400 miles, the car actually traveled 410 miles (400 x 1.025).
Does the car handle better with these wheels/tires?
Yes...the car handles better and seems more stable at freeway speeds. Just keep in mind these are still Low Rolling Resistance tires. If handling is your primary goal, there are better 15" tire options out there.
How are these tires in the rain and snow?
These tires seem to perform as well as an average all season tire. I haven't had any issues in the rain or occasional (2-3 times per year) mild snowfall. For you guys in cold winter climates that require dedicated snow tires...you're still going to need them. Note: There are low rolling resistance snow tires available in 185-55-15.
Ecopia EP422 Plus tires are supposed to last 70,000 miles. Is that realistic?
I've had Ecopia tires before, and they are somewhat under-rated when it comes to expected tread life. If you don't drive aggressively, your car is aligned properly, and you rotate your tires...these tires should last at least 70,000 miles.
TREAD WEAR UPDATE: These tires had 11/32" of tread when new. After 60,000 miles (and 12 tire rotations) they are at 5/32". So they are wearing at the rate of roughly 1/32" every 10,000 miles... which means these tires should have nearly 90,000 miles on them when they reach the 2/32" limit for replacement.
What are the advantages of 15" wheels?
1. Improved Appearance
15" wheels with the right width/offset will give your car a huge visual boost. OEM 14"/15" Mirage wheels are narrow, the tires are tiny, and the wheel offset is excessively positive. This gives a Mirage its top-heavy appearance because the wheels sit too far in under the fenders.
2. Improved Handling
Wider 15" wheels will allow you to run larger tires with a lower profile and stiffer sidewalls. The wheels will also give your car a slightly wider track.
3. Lower Operating Costs
The least expensive tire to own isn't the one with the lowest price. You want a tire with the best combination of price, long tread life, and low rolling resistance. There are multiple top-tier LRR tires to choose from in 15" sizes. I don't see any 14" tires that combine long tread life and low rolling resistance.
4. No MPG Loss
People assume that larger wheels and tires can't possibly match the efficiency of the Mirage's OEM setup. My experience is that as long as you match light-weight wheels with quality LRR tires, your fuel mileage will not be affected.
Where did you buy these wheels/tires and how much did they cost?
Discount Tire is hard to beat when they have wheel/tire promotions going on. Here's my bill...
Discount Tire Invoice
15 x 6.5 Konig Helium Wheels (4 @ $89/each)..$356
Wheel Installation Kit (required lug nuts)...$ 15
TPMS Valve Stems.............................$ 32
Sales Tax....................................$ 33
185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia (4 @ $100/ea)...$400
Sales Tax....................................$ 30
Mount & Balance 4 tires......................$ 50
Prepaid Visa card with 4 new wheels.........-$100
Prepaid Visa card with 4 new tires..........-$ 70
Total After Rebates..........................$746 **
** Get another $120 discount by opening a Discount Tire credit card.
I sold my original wheels/tires for $450...so my actual cost for this package was only $296
You can save even more buy purchasing the wheels/tires from Discount Tire Direct. They mount/balance/ship the tires for free when you buy direct, and all the rebates still apply. You will have to have your TPMS sensors installed in them if you buy direct.
Why do you need new lugnuts for these wheels?
The factory lugnuts won’t fit into the holes of these wheels. Just buy a Gorilla Wheel Installation Kit 21133HT (pictured below) which includes 20 small diameter, splined chrome lugnuts (12mm x 1.5) and the special socket for installing them.
TIP: Always carry the special socket in the car...and make sure you have a lug wrench that can drive it.
Why did they charge you $32 for rubber valve stems?
These are not a typical rubber valve stem, even though they look like it from the outside of the wheel. These special valve stems (VS-90) are required by the clip-on TPMS sensors used on the Mirage. You can't remove them from your current wheels and reuse them. $8/each may seem crazy, but they are $6+ even at NAPA. Here's what standard and VS-90 valve stems look like...
What size hubcentric rings do I need with these wheels?
Mirage Hub - Outside Diameter 56.0 mm Konig Helium - Inside Diameter 73.1 mm
Based on the measurements in the table above, you need hub rings with a 73mm outer diameter and 56.1 inner diameter. This is a common size you can find on eBay for $10 (search for 73/56.1). Buy aluminum rings over plastic...they are much more durable. Hub rings aren't absolutely required, but they're inexpensive, make installing the wheels much easier, and they can help reduce vibrations.
Where did you get Mitsubishi center caps?
Konig Helium wheels come with blank center caps and flat, adhesive-backed “Konig” emblems that you install in the caps. Instead of using the Konig emblems, I found some 49mm Mitsubishi wheel cap centers on eBay for $20. They fit perfectly in the center caps and give the wheels an OEM look. Another excellent source for center cap logos is 3D Car Stickers
Will my original TPMS sensors work with these wheels without reprogramming?
Absolutely. As long as the same 4 sensors go back on the car, nothing will need to be reprogrammed.
If you need to purchase/install new TPMS sensors as art of a wheel/tire upgrade, do yourself a favor and check out this thread for more information: TPMS Quick Reference
NOTE: My dealer will not cover my OEM TPMS sensors under warranty because someone else mounted new tires on my car. Say what?!? Anyway...just be aware that once you swap your sensors to new wheels, your dealer may try to avoid responsibility for them if you have a sensor battery go dead within your 5 year/60,000 mile warranty. I don't think that's likely anyway...but just wanted to mention it.
Are these wheels available in any colors besides silver?
Yes. Konig Helium wheels are available in silver, black or bronze.
I read on the interwebz that these wheels crack easily. Is that a problem?
Heliums are a cast aluminum street-duty wheel. Some have been used in track events and there are old accounts of one occasionally cracking under extreme road racing conditions (they aren't warranted for track use). Heliums have been sold for 12+ years and there aren’t any accounts I can find of one being damaged during street use. I have 60K miles on mine with no issues.
Heliums aren't my style. Are there any other reasonably priced aftermarket lightweight wheels?
Check out Rota wheels. Rota makes several wheel models in a size identical to the Konig Helium (15x6.5, 40mm offset) and are only slightly more expensive. Many of their wheels don't weigh more than 13 pounds.
Is there anything else I need to know before considering these wheels?
These wheels will expose your brakes for the world to see! The good thing is you can check your brake pads now just by looking through the spokes. The bad thing is that now everyone can see your crusty rotors. So you may want to consider cleaning up your rotors and hitting them with some paint. Same thing with your brake drums. The factory paint on brake components is really thin. So even if your drums/rotors look good now, take some time to put a layer of good high-temp paint on them. I painted everything and even did the calipers with G2 silver caliper paint.