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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 without sacrificing fuel economy. I've logged more than 50,000 miles on this setup so far 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 your wheels and tires until you have had a 4-wheel alignment check done. If your Mirage has a rear wheel alignment problem, you want to have this corrected while you still have the OEM wheels/tires on the car to keep the warranty process simple. Most dealers WILL blame your aftermarket wheels and non-OEM size tires for your rear alignment issues. That's a load of BS...but why take a chance? Get an alignment check done FIRST.
    Do NOT skip this step to try to save a few dollars!!!



    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?

    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 fuel efficiency (and low 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?

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    How do these fit on the car compared to the stock wheels?

    In my opinion, 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 opening (compared to stock wheels), filling up the wheel well nicely. But they don’t stick out too far which might interrupt the aerodynamics of the car or cause rubbing issues. If you are wheel shopping, I think a 15x6.5 wheel with a 40mm offset may be the ideal size for the Mirage.

    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...

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    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…

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    Here are a few photos so you can see that the wheels do not stick out beyond the fenders...

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    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 you can run without experiencing any clearance issues.



    What air pressure are you running in the tires?

    I keep the tires at 50psi. The maximum rating on the sidewall is 51psi. After 50,000 miles and 10 tire rotations, the tires are showing absolutely no signs of over-inflation wear.



    How has this wheel/tire affected your fuel economy?

    I’ve averaged 51+ mpg for 50,000 miles on these wheels/tires. I only had the OEM wheels/tires on my car for 700 miles when it was new…so I don’t have any meaningful “before” mileage values to compare. But this wheel/tire combination has proven to be very efficient for the type of driving I’m doing (60% highway/40% city). I don't consider myself a hardcore hyper-miler. I just drive easy, minimize the AC usage, anticipate red lights and rarely exceed 60mph/3000 RPMs on the freeway. I don't do "extreme" hyper-miling stuff like engine-off coasting.

    I may be getting the best fuel economy of any Mirage equipped with aftermarket wheels and tires.



    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



    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 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…but it’s only a slight adjustment. With the slightly taller tires, the car is actually traveling a little bit further than the odometer indicates. When I read the number of miles I have driven for a tank of gas, I 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 and the different rubber compound and design of the tires (Ecopia tires are supposed to have improved wet/dry traction). To be honest, I drive like an old lady in this car…so I wouldn’t notice if these tires did provide a handling improvement. But others who have switched to a similar combination have report a noticeable improvement in handling.



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

    If you don't drive your car like a madman, it's 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 all around 6/32". At this rate, I expect to get 80,000 miles out of them. Keep that in mind before you buy a set of "bargain" tires that only last 40,000 miles.

    TIP: One way to reduce the cost of a new tire is by making it with LESS rubber. Tread depth is often overlooked when people are shopping for new tires. Remember...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.



    Where did you buy these wheels/tires and how much did they cost?

    Konig wheels are available from multiple online sources. But when you factor in the cost to ship/mount/balance wheels and tires, be sure to price everything locally. Discount Tire is a national chain that sells Konig wheels, and they have aggressive wheel and tire promotions a few times a year...so that's where I ended up.

    Discount Tire periodically runs a wheel promotion where you get a $100 Visa card for purchasing 4 wheels installed (installed means you pay for tire mounting/balancing when you buy the wheels). The $100 Visa card basically negates everything involved with the tire installation and all of the sales tax. This is a great deal because Discount Tire’s price on these wheels was only $4 more per wheel than Amazon!

    The tires were also purchased during a promotion, where you received a $70 Visa card for buying 4 Bridgestones (this is now up to a $100 Visa card in 2018). Since the wheel purchase included tire installation, I only had to pay for the tires and sales tax. With the discount, these tires were actually cheaper than new Enasaves.

    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


    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 **

    **
    I could have saved an additional $120 if I opened a Discount Tire credit card.

    NOTE...
    I sold my original wheels/tires for $450...so my actual cost for this upgrade 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 them for free when you buy them direct. Here's an estimate of what this would look like (as of 2018)...

    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
    Mounting/Balancing...........................FREE
    Shipping.....................................FREE

    Total After $320 Rebates.....................$569




    Why would I want 15" wheels?

    1. Big visual impact

    Larger 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 too positive (the wheels look like they are pushed in too far under the car).

    2. More/better/less expensive tire choices

    165-65-14 is a very unusual size tire only used on the Mirage (in the US). If/when you need new tires, there are almost no choices available. If you consider an alternate 14” size (175-70-14), you may have a few more options. A more common 15” size (185-55-15) will give you a much greater selection of all types of tires...often priced lower than 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. No down time if you need a new tire now

    How many times has someone needed a single Enasave...just to find out that nobody stocks 165-65-14 tires? If you are on the road or in a jam and need a new tire NOW, you may be waiting days until a shop can order in a replacement. Or, you end up purchasing an entire set of 4 tires of an alternate size just to get going. Imagine a tire store that actually sells/stocks the tires on your car!

    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.

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    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...

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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

    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!

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    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…

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    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 100,000+ 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!

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    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; Today at 01:18 PM.

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        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.8 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.7 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.

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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!

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        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.8 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.7 mpg (Imp)


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    Thanks for the reply.
    Will weld for beer.

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        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
    Current project: Developing a rear sway bar alternative

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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.

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        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.4 mpg (US) ... 21.8 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.7 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.


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