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Thread: Fuel Efficient 15-Inch Wheels and Tires

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

    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 50,000 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 FIRST!!! < < < < < < < < <

    Don't even think about changing wheels/tires until your car can pass a 4-wheel alignment check.

    If your Mirage has a rear wheel alignment problem, you want this fixed 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.



    Wheel/Tire Combination

    Wheels....15 x 6.5 Konig Helium (40mm offset)
    Tires.......185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus


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    FAQ:


    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 why I selected these wheels/tires, see THIS thread.



    How much does this combination weigh compared to OEM wheels/tires?

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    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 reduced by using 15x6.5" wheels with less offset...

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    This willtheyfit.com image compares my wheel/tire setup to the OEM 14" wheel/tire…

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    You can see that the tires easily clear the front/rear fenders...

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    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 50,000 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. You can see my lifetime mileage log here.



    How can this wheel/tire combination be as efficient as the 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 than OEM 165-65-14's. The difference is so minor you can't detect it.

    When the speedometer reads 60mph, the car is going 61.5 mph.
    When my ScanGauge indicates 60mph, my Garmin GPS shows 61 mph.

    NOTE: 185-55-15 is the same diameter (23") as 175-65-14...which many Mirage owners are already using.

    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 really 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 snow. For you guys that require dedicated snow tires...you're probably still going to need them.



    Ecopia EP422 Plus tires are supposed to last 70,000 miles. Is that realistic?

    In my experience, Ecopia tires 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 50,000 miles (and 10 tire rotations) they were at 6/32". 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.



    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

    WHEELS
    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


    TIRES
    185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia (4 @ $100/ea)...$400
    Sales Tax....................................$ 30


    INSTALLATION
    Mount & Balance 4 tires......................$ 50


    REBATES
    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.

    NOTE...
    I sold my original wheels/tires for $450...so my actual cost for this wheel/tire package was only $296


    If you don't care about TPMS functionality, 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.



    What are the advantages of 15" wheels?

    1. Improved Appearance

    15" wheels with the right size/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.

    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.



    Do you need new lugnuts for these wheels?

    Yes, because 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.

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    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 (called VS-90) are required by the clip-on TPMS sensors used in 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 a picture of one...

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    What size hubcentric rings do I need with these wheels?

    Here are the measurements you need to consider when selecting hub rings:

    56.0 mm ..... Diameter of hubs on a Mirage
    73.1 mm ..... Inside diameter (center bore) of a Helium wheel

    You will need hub rings with a 73mm outer diameter and 56.1 inner diameter.
    This is a common size hub ring you can find on eBay for $10 (search for 73/56.1). Buy aluminum rings over plastic if possible. They are much more durable. Hub rings are not absolutely required, but they are highly recommended. They're inexpensive, make installing the wheels much easier, and they can help reduce vibrations. They are well worth $10!

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    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

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    Will my original TPMS sensors work with these wheels without reprogramming?

    Absolutely. As long as the same 4 sensors are going back on the car, nothing will need to be reprogrammed and the TPMS light will remain off.

    If you install one or more new TPMS sensors, they will need to be registered with the car’s computer. Be aware that 99% of shops out there will not be able to do this for you because Mitsubishi uses a proprietary TPMS computer. This programming is a dealer-only service which may costs upwards of $100.

    If you need new TPMS sensors, I highly recommend cloning the ID's of your existing sensors and having those ID's written onto another set of programmable TPMS sensors. If you do this, no further TPMS programming will be required.

    NOTE: My dealer said they 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 heard these wheels crack easily. What’s the deal?

    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 10+ years and there aren’t any accounts I can find of one being damaged during street use. I have 50K 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.

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    Last edited by Top_Fuel; Yesterday at 03:02 AM.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.8 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member IchabodCrane's Avatar
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    Wow.
    That's a lot of info. Very well done.
    I will use your recommendations regarding tires if I can find them here. For my tastes though I prefer a 12 spoke rim. Did you consider any options in 12 spoke?
    Will weld for beer.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2014 Mirage SE 1.2 automatic: 45.3 mpg (US) ... 19.3 km/L ... 5.2 L/100 km ... 54.5 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IchabodCrane View Post
    ...Did you consider any options in 12 spoke?
    I didn't go searching for any particular wheel style. I mainly went looking for the lightest 15 inch wheels I could find, and then went from there. These were the best "bang for the buck" I could find. At barely over 11 pounds each, that pretty much eliminated everything else for me. I originally came across these at this website.

    8 spokes is enough for me. I wouldn't want to have to detail any more than that every time I wash my car!

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.8 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member IchabodCrane's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply.
    Will weld for beer.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2014 Mirage SE 1.2 automatic: 45.3 mpg (US) ... 19.3 km/L ... 5.2 L/100 km ... 54.5 mpg (Imp)


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    Wow, that was a remarkably well written post and addressed almost all questions I'd have about a wheel upgrade. I see so many cars with ridiculous looking plus sized tires. People dont seem to get that bigger doesn't always equal better. If the wheels and tires are too heavy, it makes the car feel clumsy and ruins the ride. But the mirage tires are sooo small, they do look kind of pathetic. Your setup looks great and not too big.

    And a plug for Discount Tire - I bought 4 snow tires from them. The price was as cheap or cheaper than tire rack and the service was great.

    A question or two . . . do the larger diameter tires affect the turning radius? One of the aspects I really like about the Mirage is the tight turning radius. I know the thread states that the tires don't rub. Have you confirmed that this is the case with the steering cranked to full lock (tightest turn)?

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    The best post regarding aftermarket wheels and their selection that I've ever read on any form! Thank you for taking the time to put it together!

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2014 Mirage 3 CVT 1.2 automatic: 47.9 mpg (US) ... 20.4 km/L ... 4.9 L/100 km ... 57.5 mpg (Imp)


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    The car looks great with those . Like the front of the '14 + '15 better than the '17 . Never been a big fan of the chrome trim thing , cheesy . Excellent write-up ! Maybe you should consider a novel of your travels and experiences with your car . Title , MIRAGE and ME . Thanks

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    Administrator Daox's Avatar
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    Great post Top Fuel, thanks!
    Custom Mirage products: Cruise control kit, Glove box light, MAF sensor housing, Rear sway bar
    Current project: Alternator delete with regen braking modification

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage DE 1.2 manual: 44.5 mpg (US) ... 18.9 km/L ... 5.3 L/100 km ... 53.4 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranny View Post
    ...If the wheels and tires are too heavy, it makes the car feel clumsy and ruins the ride.
    I agree. When you're starting with a stock wheel/tire that only weighs 26 pounds, you have to be careful or you may end up with a combination that's easily in the low/mid 30 pound range. These smaller, lighter cars are going to be more sensitive to heavier wheels/tires. If you look at Tire rack, I don't think you will find a 15" wheel anywhere near 11 pounds.

    But the mirage tires are sooo small, they do look kind of pathetic.
    I was motivated to do this by looking at cars sitting in parking lots. Mainly Sparks, Aveos and Mazda-2s. I just felt that these cars didn't look funny on stock wheels, so maybe my car doesn't have to, either.

    ...do the larger diameter tires affect the turning radius?
    I don't think so...but I will double-check. I've already had the car in a "lock-to-lock" turning situation and didn't hear anything funny. I've looked up in the front fenderwells and don't see any "clean" spots on the fenderwell linings to indicate that anything is rubbing.

    edit - Check THIS thread. This forum member is running the same wheels and same size tires...and he also reported no rubbing issues lock-to-lock.
    Last edited by Top_Fuel; 06-10-2016 at 01:56 AM.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.8 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    I appreciate the positive feedback, guys.

    I burned up a LOT of time comparing different combinations and I don't want anyone else to waste as much of their life as I did just to consider new wheels. Looking at wheel pictures on the web is fine, but without a lot of info behind the pictures, they really weren't helping me make an informed decision.

    Hopefully this will help someone down the road when their Enasaves wear out. A wheel upgrade just might be worth considering.


        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.8 mpg (Imp)


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