I'm running a 15-inch wheel/tire combination worth considering if you want to improve your Mirage’s appearance without sacrificing fuel economy. I've logged more than 50,000 miles on this setup and it appears to be as efficient as the OEM 14" wheels/tires.
This isn't the biggest set of wheels/tires you can squeeze under 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. That's a load of BS...but why take a chance?
ALWAYS GET AN ALIGNMENT CHECK DONE FIRST. Do NOT skip this step to save a few dollars!!!
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?
This was the lightest 15" wheel I could find with the right width (6.5"), offset (40mm) and reasonable price ($99). The tires are among the most efficient and longest-lasting Low Rolling Resistance tires available. With low overall cost per mile as a primary goal, this combination looked great on paper.
Read more details about how/why I selected these wheels/tires in the thread below:
Choosing Fuel Efficient 15-Inch Wheels and Tires
How much does this combination weigh compared to OEM wheels/tires?
How do these fit on the car compared to the stock wheels?
The fitment of these wheels can’t get much better on a Mirage. They sit out 1.25 inches closer to the edge of the wheel openings (compared to OEM wheels), filling up the wheel wells nicely. But they don’t stick out too far which might lead to rubbing/clearance issues. If you are wheel shopping, a 15x6.5 wheel with a 40mm offset is a safe size for the Mirage if your car is not lowered.
The diagrams below help illustrate the before/after fitment.
This image is from the website wheel-size.com. This gives you a rough idea of how these wider wheels eliminate the huge amount of fender clearance that the tiny stock wheels have...
This next image is from the website willtheyfit.com. They have a graphical tool that lets you see 2 wheel/tire combinations on the car at one time. Here’s what it looks like when you compare my setup to the stock 14" wheels/tires…
Here are a few photos so you can see that the tires will easily clear the fenders...
Do these tires rub anywhere?
These tires do not rub anything under any conditions (with stock springs). The front wheels can be turned lock-to-lock without any concern. This may be the widest wheel/tire combination you can run without experiencing any clearance issues.
What air pressure are you running in the tires?
I keep the tires at 50 PSI (the maximum inflation rating on the sidewall is 51 PSI). After 50,000 miles the tires are showing no signs of over-inflation wear.
How has this wheel/tire affected your fuel economy?
I have averaged 51+ mpg for over 50,000 miles on these wheels/tires. This combination has proven to be very efficient for the type of driving I’m doing (60% highway/40% city). I drive conservatively to maximize my fuel mileage, but I'm not a hardcore hyper-miler.
What makes this an efficient wheel/tire combination?
Consider the following…
- This wheel/tire only weighs 1 pound more than a 14” factory alloy wheel and 165 Enasave
- The contact patch of a 185 Ecopia is identical to a 165 Enasave (details in this thread)
- The Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus incorporates the latest advances in LRR tire technology
- 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?
Yes...but the difference is so minor, you will never notice it.
185-55-15 tires will cause the speedometer to read 2.5% below your actual speed. This is because 185-55-15's are half an inch taller than the OEM 165-65-14's (a 2.5% difference).
When the speedometer reads 60mph, you are actually going 61.5 mph.
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?
Yes. With the slightly taller tires, the car is actually traveling a little bit further than the odometer indicates. When reading the number of miles driven for a tank of gas, just add 2.5% to that number. If the odometer says I went 400 miles, the car really traveled 410 miles.
Does the car handle better with these wheels/tires?
These tires have the same contact patch as a 165-65-14 Enasave. Any handling improvement would be due to the wider stance of the new wheels, the lower profile tire sidewalls, and the different rubber compound and tread design of the tires. To be honest, I drive so conservatively in this car, I wouldn’t notice if these tires did provide a handling improvement. But others who also switched to a similar combination have reported a noticeable improvement in handling.
Ecopia EP422 Plus tires are supposed to last 70,000 miles. Is that realistic?
If you don't drive too aggressively, your car is aligned properly, and you rotate your tires...these tires should last at least 70,000 miles as advertised.
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 out at the rate of roughly 1/32" for every 10,000 miles. Doing the math... these tires should have nearly 90,000 miles on them when they reach the 2/32" limit for replacement.
TIP: One way to reduce the cost and rolling resistance of a new tire is by making it with LESS rubber. A new Dunlop Enasave only has 9/32" of tread! I put 20,000+ miles on these Ecopias before they were worn down to the tread depth of a brand new Enasave. Tread depth is often overlooked when people are shopping for new tires.
Where did you buy these wheels/tires and how much did they cost?
Konig wheels are widely available online. But be sure to price a complete wheel/tire package locally before you jump at a cheap deal on the wheels alone. Discount Tire is a national chain that carries Konig wheels, and they have amazing wheel/tire promotions a few times a year. That's where I bought these.
Discount Tire will give you a $100 Visa card for purchasing 4 wheels installed (installed means you pay for tire mounting/balancing when you buy the wheels). This $100 basically covers the tire installation and all of the sales tax.
Discount Tire will also give you a $70 Visa card for purchasing 4 Bridgestone tires (it's now $100 in 2018). Since the wheel promotion includes tire mounting/balancing, you only pay for the tires and sales tax.
Discount Tire Cost
WHEELS (including required hardware)
15 x 6.5 Konig Helium Wheels (4 @ $89/each)..$356
Wheel Installation Kit (special lug nuts)....$ 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 **
** I could have saved an additional $120 if I opened a Discount Tire credit card.
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 maintaining your TPMS functionality, you can save even more buy purchasing the wheels/tires from Discount Tire Direct and having them shipped to you. They will mount/balance the tires on your new wheels for free (and ship them for free) when you buy direct. Here's what this would look like using 2018 prices...
Discount Tire Direct Cost
15 x 6.5 Konig Helium Wheels (4 @ $99/each)..$396
Valve Stems..................................$ 12
185-55-15 Bridgestone Ecopia (4 @ $105/ea)...$420
Sales Tax....................................$ 61
Total After $320 Rebates.....................$569
Why would I want 15" wheels?
1. Big visual impact
15" wheels and tires will give your car a huge visual boost…especially on a Mirage where the OEM wheels/tires are small and the wheel offset is excessively positive (the wheels look like they are pushed in too far under the car).
2. More/better tire choices
165-65-14 is a very unusual tire size in the US. Your choices are almost non-existent for this size. If you consider an alternate 14” size (175-70-14), you will have a few more options..especially if you're willing to consider off-brand and non-LRR tires. A 185-55-15 is more common and will give you a greater selection of quality, name brand tires...often priced the same as comparable 14" tires. To illustrate this point, here are the number of non-winter tires available at the Tire Rack in each size…
165-65-14 ........ 3
175-70-14 ........ 4
185-55-15 ........ 18
3. A 15" wheel upgrade can almost pay for itself
The cost of this upgrade can be offset by selling your original wheels/tires while they still have value. I sold my OEM 14" alloy wheels and tires for $450 (when my Mirage was new) and spent an additional $300 to buy these new 15" wheels/tires. It sounds crazy to sell perfectly good wheels/tires..but for $300 more I got new 15" wheels...and new LRR tires which may last twice as long as the original tires.
Dunlop Enasaves have a low treadwear rating and might last 40K miles..at which point you'll need to buy new tires for $200-$400. By the time your car reaches 80,000 miles, you will have spent $200-$400 on your second set of tires. At that point, I haven't spent any more than you have...but I have 15" wheels that have paid for themselves.
The real question you should be asking is this: Why would I want to keep my 14" wheels?
Do you really need new lugnuts for these wheels?
Yes. The factory lugnuts are too short/wide and won’t work. Just buy a Gorilla Wheel Installation Kit 21133HT (pictured below) which includes 20 high quality, small diameter, splined chrome lugnuts (12mm x 1.5) and the special socket for installing them. These kits are available on Amazon for about $30. Discount Tire only charged $15 for the same thing in 2016.
TIP: Remember that your stock lug wrench will NOT work with these lug nuts. Always carry the special socket in the car...and make sure you have a wrench that will work with the socket. The end of the special socket is 19mm...so you need a 19mm socket to grip the end of it. This may or may not fit the stock lug wrench. I spent $10 on a short breaker bar and 19mm impact socket that I always have in the car. If I need to install my spare or remove my wheels, I'll just grab my breaker bar and socket setup and leave the stock lug wrench under the driver's seat.
They charged you $32 for valve stems? Isn't that a rip-off?
These valve stems are unique to the type of clip-on TPMS sensors used in the Mirage. They are not a typical rubber valve stem...even though they look like it from the outside. The end that goes inside the wheel has a special notch on the end of it (see image below). This is where the TPMS sensor clips on. Unlike some TPMS valve stems, you CANNOT remove these from your current wheels and reuse them. The only way to remove them from a wheel is to cut them out. $8 per valve stem may seem outrageous, but these cost more than $6/each even if you buy them from NAPA. Here's a picture of one...
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
Using the measurements above, you will need hub rings with a 73mm outer diameter and 56.1 inner diameter (73/56.1). This is a common size hub ring you can find on eBay for $10. Buy aluminum rings over plastic if possible. They are much more durable. Hub rings are not absolutely required, but they are inexpensive and make installing the wheels much easier. They are well worth $10!
Note: Do not buy hub rings with a 73.1mm outer diameter, because they won’t fit into the Konig wheel bores without forcing them into place. Hub rings should fit into the wheel bore snugly…but you shouldn’t have to hammer them into place.
Where did you get Mitsubishi center caps for these wheels?
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 Mitsubishi wheel cap centers (49mm) on eBay for $20. They fit perfectly in the Konig center caps. The black Mitsubishi emblem on a silver background looks great with the silver Heliums and gives the wheels an OEM look. Another excellent source for center cap logos is 3D Car Stickers
Here’s what I used…
Will my original TPMS sensors work with these wheels?
Yes. My original TPMS sensors were installed in these wheels and they work fine. As long as the same 4 sensors are going back on the car, the TPMS light should not come on and nothing will need to be reprogrammed.
If you end up installing new TPMS sensors when you get new wheels/tires, the sensors will need to be registered with the car’s computer. Be aware that 99% of tire/repair 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 (saving you a $100 trip to the Mitsubishi dealer).
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 here.
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 made using inexpensive casting methods. The result is a low-cost, lightweight, street-duty wheel.
Some have pushed the limits of Heliums by running them with sticky tires in track events, exposing them to loads they weren’t designed for. A few people cracked a wheel spoke doing this. Search the web for “cracked Konig Helium” and you’ll find some older threads on this topic. Konig doesn’t warrant these for off-road use because they are street-duty wheels, not forged race wheels.
Heliums have been sold for 10+ years and there are likely tens of thousands of them in use right now, but there aren’t any accounts I can find of one cracking under street use. That doesn’t mean they’re bullet-proof. Understand that an 11 pound cast aluminum wheel isn’t as strong as a steel or heavy cast wheel. If you hit a huge pothole, curb, etc. with a Helium, you should treat it like any other wheel and examine it for signs of damage.
Bottom Line: When used on the street, these wheels have proven to be reliable and are perfectly acceptable for 99% of us. Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research and decide for yourself.
No offense...but these wheels aren't my style. Are there other aftermarket lightweight wheels you would recommend that are reasonably priced?
Check out Rota Slipstream wheels. They are available in a size identical to the Konig Helium (15x6.5, 40mm offset) and are only slightly more expensive. They weigh around 12 pounds and are available in multiple paint colors (and polished...as shown on the Chevy Spark in the image below). If I had to do it again, I might choose these wheels!
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.