Going from 205/60/16 to 215/55/16 on 6.5in wide rims

Hey! I am looking for some summer sporty tires, but the problem is that my car stock tire size is 205/60/16 and the only tires in that size are touring/economy tires. I can technically go to 215/55/16 for a better selection of tires. The outer diameter stays about the same, and the speedometer error would be about 1.5% which is acceptable. However, the problem is that my wheels are only 6.5 inches wide. I’ve heard that the ideal width for 215 tires is 7 inches. Is it something that I should be worried about? The guys at a few tire shops told me it is fine, but I did some research (mainly on car specific forums) and a lot of people say that it is not a good idea. The car is pretty much a daily driver that I occasionally take to autocross events. I was kind of thinking about getting wider/bigger rims, but it would disqualify me from the H-stock autox class, and I do not want that to happen until I get more serious about it. Thanks!

TireRack.com shows rim widths of 6-7.5" for this tire so you’re good to go. An “ideal” width of 7" means you’ll actually have a 215mm wide tire on a 7" rim. On a 6.5" wide rim, the tire width will measure a little less.

Not only will the 215 section width fit, but it might even improve your handling… at the cost of a slight mileage drop due to the increased rotating mass and the increase rolling resistance. It would be even better on a 7" rim with no change in the OEM offset.

it’s kind of hard to guess, however, since you didn’t tell us the year, make, & model of the car. For that stock size I’m guessing perhaps a late model Camry, Accord, or even Hyundai?

Thanks for the replies! The car is a 3rd generation Mazda3i. The 7 inch wheel would be nice, and in fact I wouldnt mind to have some 17x7 instead of the stock 16x6.5, but you need to have the stock rim diameter and width to stay in the H-stock class. I may end up installing a bigger rsb in the future, and that would move me to a different class and I would be able to get bigger wheels then. But for now I’m stuck with the stock wheels.

There may be a third option. I have 215x45x17 tires, and one year I put Cooper all-season tires on it. Even though the tires were the same size and ratings, the profile of the sidewalls was clearly different, placing more tread on the road and curving more out from the rim’s edge. The real section width seemed more like 220mm than 215mm. The tires had more traction than any tire I’ve ever owned, phenomenal handling. Extremely stable. The tradeoff was poor longevity and a slight drop in mileage (about 2mpg as I recall). Soft compound = great traction… and also fast wear.

I’m looking into new tires right now (my wear bars are getting obvious… I’m at about 3/32 on the front tires as I write this) and am seriously considering going back to Coopers. I no longer commute, don’t even drive much any more. Mileage and good wear aren’t as important as they once were.

Yeah, softer tires are pretty bad at tread wear. More fun though haha. It’s all what matters to you. I had Hankook ventus v12s on the civic that I sold recently, and those were fun tires…but didn’t last long haha.

My last few sets were Ventus V12s including my current ones. I agree with your assessment.


MB - did you mean 16…or are you suggesting the OP also changes his wheels?

I have 17s. My suggestion was simply to consider Cooper tires as an option to getting a larger section width, but not to change rims. I stated my rim size simply to put my description of my experience into context.

My experience with Coopers is that they actually have a slightly wider section width than a Hankook of the same size, and also a different section profile that lays a wider tread pattern on the ground. They also seem to have a softer compound. The Coopers had tenacious grip on the pavement. The tread portion of the tire is wider, the sidewall splays out from the rim. On my car, the difference was visually obvious. But, as can be expected, there are tradeoffs… poor wear longevity being the biggest.