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Changing Caravan tire width from 215 to 205 no problem or bad idea?

My 01 Caravan needs new tires, and when I scrapped my 91 I took off the nearly new set of 205-70-15. Factory on the 01 calls for 215-70-15, which would make an odometer/speedometer difference of 2%, barely a mph at 60. The funny thing is the tires I bought it with (used) are 205-75-15, making a 3% difference the other way!

Is this idea just thrifty or plain stupid? The width difference seem negligible, but I’m not a student of this stuff and my mechanic seemed dubious. Does anyone have advice for me?

I wouldn’t think the wider tire would make that much of a difference. Now a taller (or shorter) tire would, but I don’t think the width plays into measuring speed.

Having said that… I went with a slightly wider tire on a 2004 Silverado I used to have. There was a slight drop in fuel economy (around 1-2 MPG), but there was a very noticeable difference in handling. The truck cornered like a race car. I don’t know about your particular vehicle, but this is just my two cents. Good luck.

This is a slightly less wide tire. Are the max load specifications of the tires the same? Since you have the tires from the older car, I’d go for mounting them and using them up. The performance of your van maybe slightly less capable, but the difference should be negligible.

I had a similar situation where I had some 185/75/14 tires off an old '88 Buick Century and a friend who had, as luck would have it, an '89 Century that needed tires. But the '89 was a “limited” model that had a bigger engine and transmission and 205/60/15 tires (about an inch wider than the 185’s). With the 185’s, the tires were visibly overloaded even when slightly overinflated. Bummer.

Now, just based on my observations, I think the '01 Caravan is probably heavier than the '91 so you may very well run into a similar problem.

You’ll be fine, The actual height of the tire is based on a tape measurer. Your 205/70’s are probably the same size as your bald 205/75’s. Besides, the tires he/she has on now and the used ones are the same width, which are smaller than from the factory. I’d use up your old tires that you scrapped.

Shouldn’t be a problem…But I wouldn’t go much narrower. You may feel a slight difference in handling. Should get a little better gas mileage…and it’ll help you drive in snow a lot better.

Thanks all, a little handholding never hurts! I guess I’ll throw them on. They’re still mounted on the old wheels, which I think have the same pattern, so the cost of trying it is minimal. As for handling, who can tell when a barge handles slightly less well? It’s not like it’s a BMW. I’d really rather not pony up nearly $400 for a new set and mounting if I can avoid it.

Interestingly, I thought the current tires wouldn’t pass DMV inspection, which was past due. But I was passing the inspection station yesterday and just went in, figuring a 30 day “failed” sticker was better than the possibility of getting a ticket. They passed me, even with some pretty sad tires that I’m sure were under 1/8" tread in places.

Sounds like you understand what your getting into and some good advice from all the postings. I would just double check the load ratings and compare to what the OEM tires states. You can go under if you are not loading it up but since you have a van you may just be doing that. If the tires are on you can get all of the specs there.

Be very careful that the wheels fit over the hub correctly and the offset is similar.


Everyone missed the most important point of this discussion - load carrying capacity.

Of the group of tires mentioned in the OP, a P215/70R15 - the OE size - has the largest load carrying capacity. Using anything less increases the risk of a load related tire failure - which sometimes has tragic consequences.

For the best safety, stay with the OEM size.