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Pimping my Passat with new wheels


I’m a newbie here, so bear with me. I have a 2004 Passat GLS with 32,000 miles. When I need new tires, I want to replace the standard 15" wheels with 17". I’ve looked at websites and see Factory OEM, replica, remanufactured, and VW equipment. What does all this mean? What about ratios and stuff? Any advice?

Go to, check out the “+2” options for your car, that’ll give you the correct wheel and, especially, tire size. Maintain the same overall tire diameter so you don’t have to worry about ratios and stuff. If 17s require shorter than 50 series tires, I’d go with 16s to better avoid rim and tire damage.

Thanks for the info. I’ll check it out.

Hi, texases–
I went to the site, entered info on my car, but couldn’t find the “+2” options you mentioned. Could you tell me where to look on the site? Thanks again.

Once you enter your car info, click on the ‘tire and wheel packages’ link, then select the rim size you want. I checked, for your car it looks like the 17s require 225/45ZR17 tires, so I’d go with 16s, but that’s up to you. I guess they no longer have the “+1” and “+2” options because there are now so many wheel sizes.

Thanks again! I really wanted those 17s but I also want what’s best for me and my car.

What’s best is some high quality 15" tires.

Put some of the money you save on rims on maintenance of the rest of the car.
It’s due for a trans fluid change if automatic.
Coolant change and thermostat, brake fluid change…

Hey, circuitsmith-- Thanks for the prompt. I take good care of my car; just wanted it perked up a bit to quell my “new-car fever”. Coming up on 35,000 check-up. I know that’s a big 'un.

As much as we purist would like to talk you out of it, you’ve already decided to “pimp” it out, so. Make sure that what ever rim you decide the specs (esp offset) match OEM. Get those matched exactly from their rims. Take no ones advice over the phone if you can’t match the specs with OEM regardless of “they’ll fit anyway” statements. Just fitting is not enough and only the manufacturer has done the math with the additional strain wrong specs may cause on suspension components…so it’s more than just, wheel tire size and overall diameter.

Hey, dagosa–I really beat the cr*p out of my wheels before I learned not to bang into curbs, and my beautiful Passat just doesn’t look as beautiful as it should. So the purist crowd would say to stick with the 15"? Should I replace them when I replace the tires? I suppose purists wouldn’t want me to have it repainted somewhere down the line with gold-flecked paint? I can hear you saying “Aaaah!”

A good paint job is a whole different thing.
I’m sure many of us “purists” here would consider something tasteful a legit upgrade.

There are certain levels of customizing a car
1: you upgrade the wheels and tires for better traction, or they no longer carry decent tires in the size you currently have(the case with my Civic)
2: You add a non-functional spoiler and/or fartpipe muffler
3: You add decals to the car to make it look faster
4: You decide to actually make it faster by doing engine mods. Either just bolt on and pray, or actually doing it right
5: Custom paint job
6: Lambo doors
7: Hood scoops and body kits

Not necessarily in that order either
Some can be done right and look good, but that costs a truck load of $100 bills. Most people just piecemeal it as they get the money, and it looks so horrible you have to pity the vehicle itself. Nice looking car normally, but it now has a primer colored body kit that just makes you want to punch the owner in the face.

Duly noted, bscar. I wasn’t planning to make my dear Passat into a freak show, just give it a little pizzazz. Obviously, there are strong feelings about this sort of thing. Although… that fartpipe muffler has a certain appeal.

You might check with the VW dealer and nearby tire/wheel stores for ‘takeoffs’, stock VW rims (maybe 16s) that were replaced with 17/18/19" aftermarkets.

Save the money, you can’t improve the handling on that car anyway. It already handles well. Why try to ruin it?

Thanks, texases. Very helpful idea. It seems I’m the only one who thought pimping my Passat was a good idea.

Thanks, pleasedodgevan2. Not trying to ruin it. It does handle very well as is. Just trying to spruce it up a bit.

Nah, I’ve often thought about (slightly) bigger wheels. But it is true, tires make a bigger difference than 1" of size as far as handling goes, so make sure you get good tires, or it could end up a lose/lose situation (cost/handling).

"It seems I’m the only one who thought pimping my Passat was a good idea. "

Not at all from this front…just be careful about the numbers is my advice.

I worked for a major tire/wheel and repair center. Here is the secret no one ever talks about, changing the rim size is not the greatest idea. Here is why, think about what a tire is, rubber filled with air. Just like my sleep number bed, its a cushion. When you loose cushion you loose ride quality on top of being harder on the steering and suspension parts. ie struts, springs, tie rods, etc.

Most after market rims are no where near the quality of the factory ones, plus if you damage them a year or so later they are hard to replace as they don’t make a certain style for very long. The tires are more expensive to replace and the rims are subject to more damage from pot holes, curbs, etc.

The only time I think a rim and tire package is a good idea is when having a winter/summer set. Then stay with factory size when possible.

Just my two cents but remember there are other things to consider when changing everything your car is riding on.