Replacement tires for 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder

I don’t know if I am posting this in the right place but I NEED HELP!! I have a 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder convertible and I need all 4 tires replaced. The existing tires are Bridgstone Potenza (which have been discontinued), and front & back are two completely different sizes (front: 185/55 R15 81V) and rear (215/45 R16 86W). My car only has 27K miles so I’m sure these are original. I have been all over the web & called Toyota Dealers, etc. and everyone gives me a different story. Bottom line: Only Tire Rack has the rear tires & no one has the front tires. I have been told to use the rear tires for the front and just get larger rims or use two different types of tires with different treads for front and back. I have also been told not to do either. Please note that I can’t find a highly rated tire that comes in both the sizes I need. What can I do? One tire has a large crack so I can’t drive the car. Someone please tell me what I can do.
Thank you, Sue

I found eighteen 185/55R15 tires on Tirerack and
seven 215/45R16 tires.

The 81 and 86 are load rating designations. On an MR2 you need not be concerned about these. The letter is a speed rating, and the link I’ve added will tell you what the max speeds are for the different ratings.

It has long been a beef of mine that tire manufacturers code everything rather than just putting it on the sidewall. Then the consumer needs a special interpretation sheet to understand it. The laser or CAD/CAM miller can just as easily carve “max speed 112mph” into the mold as it can carve an “S” code. It’s like they want to keep the info a secret from the public, available only to the privileged.

Bridgestone Potenza at Discount Tires.

I just searched the tire size you specified for the front and it seems all the major manufacturers offer that tire. Have you been told by a tire dealer that the tire is not available? And having a different brand name front and rear should not be a problem. Certainly it would be less of a problem than installing larger wheels and tires on the front.

I suspect the “81V” and “86W” were somehow confusing the OP’s search parameters. Thus my statement of aggravation about the way tire manufacturers “code” everything on tires instead of just speaking English.

Wow, Tire Rack is my go-to, surprised they can’t help. You’ll want to join an MR2 forum and ask around about tires. Here’s one, not that I know anything about it:

I bet Tire Rack could set you up with a compatible set of rims and tires. More money, sure, but you’d be able to get replacement tires without a problem.

TireRack has plenty of both sizes. And they’re in commonly available makes, so I’d guess they’re commonly available.

If I enter the MR2, Tire Rack comes back with nothing. But they do have tires for the front and rear when search for separately. And they do have Yokohama S Drive tires in the correct sizes. I would call Tire Rack, they’ll be able to help on the phone I bet.

If one tire dealer told you they weren’t available, try another tire dealer. Some dealers only stock ONE brand. Many dealers who don’t stock every size can order whatever you need. Keep trying.

There are surely one or more MR2 forums.

My nephew has the MR2 he graduated from high school with in 2000. It was his first car. I think he’s trying to follow in my footsteps.

Both front and rear 2004 MR compatible tires are probably available, but may require time for shipping to your location. Your best option in that case is to have that done, and wait until they arrive.

If I had this problem myself, probably the first thing I’d do is surf over to the Costco web site, and see what they say are compatible tires for you car. Folks here seem to like the Michelin Defender, so if that’s available in the sizes you need, that would probably be a good choice.

btw, you aren’t the only one with this problem. The tire makers and tire stores seem to like to sell big – by “big” I mean “huge” – tires these days. Smaller tires don’t interest them much. Even for my very high sales volume Corolla, finding the correctly sized tires in the brand and version I want is becoming problematic.

Don’t put the same size front and rear wheels on the car. DON’T. The car is a mid-engine car with more weight in back than the front. The rear tires are bigger for a reason, don’t change that or the rear tailights will pass you some night on a wet corner headed for the closest ditch or wall. DON"T DO IT. It is not safe. You may buy a set of wheels with the same DIAMETER but different widths so that the proper width tires can be used.

That said, TireRack has an article on just this subject,

Their best solution, if you don’t want new wheels and one I agree with is the following copied directly from the above link;

You can still purchase the O.E. Bridgestone Pontenza RE-040 in 185/55-15 fronts (23.0") and 215/45-16 rears (23.6"). The rears are W-speed rated and the fronts are V-speed rated, so these tires won’t appear in a matching pair search even though they’re the Original Equipment tires.

This may not work the next time you need tires, or it might. That will be a bit of a gamble.

Hey there fellow MR2 owner. I’ve got the generation before you, and run into the same problem as you with the staggered wheels. I’m currently running a different tire on the fronts than the backs because they don’t make very many tires that fit this car any more, and choices are limited.

You’ll do fine running different tires as long as both of them are good - you wouldn’t want to run some crappy high mileage tire on the rears with sticky summer performance tires on the front, for instance.

I suspect I will end up getting different rims the next time I need tires, because the last time I put tires on my rears I had to order in the last 2 in the country from some warehouse 2,000 miles away. I will somewhat disagree with @Mustangman on not putting the same size rims on both ends. Lots of people with 2nd gen MR2s have done this out of necessity because of the tire sourcing problem, to no ill effects. The 1992 model was the last one that was highly prone to snap oversteer - they tweaked the suspension after that to dumb it down for less experienced drivers.

If you were planning to drive it like you stole it, then we’d be having a different conversation, but I suspect this isn’t the case.

It may be just fine most of the time, @shadowfax but I just can’t agree with putting the same rims front and back. Diameter, sure, no problems, but not width, or at least tire width.

I could get on board with the same rim width if the narrower front tire/wider rear is maintained for that one time light rain falls on an unexpected corner. I’d rather the owner push wide than swap ends.

Plus it looks correct, too. You wouldn’t wanna mess up that cool styling, would you?

Nope, I certainly don’t want to mess up the styling, @Mustangman … But when tire options become severely limited, there isn’t much choice.

Currently for mine, there are 10 tires available for the rears. Only two of them are street legal. The others are all race tires. Neither of the street legal tires can hold a candle to the ones I have on there now, which are no longer made. So I’m going to lose grip whether I go with one of the two available, or I swap out the wheels for a matched set.

I also agree that keeping the stagger is ideal, but it’s also usually a lot more expensive if you can even pull it off - there’s no guarantee that the wheel you need for the rear is made in the same style as the wheel you need for the front, and if it is, you can’t get it as a discounted set of 4.

If you are up to new rims, You could go with 17" rims, 7x17 on the front and 7.5x17 rear and use 205/45-17 front and 225/45-17 rear. That will be about 3/4" larger radius and almost an inch wider. I would recommend General G-Max tires if you are looking at high performance all season tires at a reasonable cost.

Otherwise, looking at the link Mustangman posted, I think here might have been an error. I think is called for 195/55-15 front and 205/45-16 rear. That would make the diameter of the rear tires too small, maybe the author meant 205/50-16 rear as that would be about right on the diameter. I’d be a bit concerned about oversteer though with these sizes if you do any spirited driving.

Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions and taking the time to help me! After much searching, I actually found the rear tires on Tire Rack and the front tires on Tire-Easy. They are both Bridgestone Potenza, in the same size as the original tires. What an ordeal, but they are all on the way to my home now. Look out for the bright red MR2 in Northern Virginia!
Thanks again, Sue

Did you call Tire Rack? They are VERY helpful.

Look out for the bright red MR2 in Northern Virginia!

Don’t speed. One of the Jalopnik columnists recently got arrested and spent the weekend in jail for speeding on a test drive. :wink:

Virginia state troopers have been all over drivers for even minor infractions in recent years. When the speed limit was raised, they decided to work to the letter of the law and charge awesome fines. My cousin was popped in SW VA going 85 in a 70 zone. It cost her about $2000.

My cousin was popped in SW VA going 85 in a 70 zone. It cost her about $2000.

Sounds reasonable to me.