Smaller tires on Mazda 626

My nephew needs tires for a 99 Mazda 626 (185/70-R15). He can get a free set of 195/60-R15 tires. The 185 tires are 24.3" and the 195 tires are 23.2". The new tires are about 4.5% smaller in diameter.

Since the tires are smaller, fit shouldn’t be a problem, but is 4.5% to big a difference safety-wise?


Ed B.

The issue is the wheels. You are going from a 70 series tire to a 60 series. The 60 series tire will quite a bit wider and has a shorter sidewall. If the wheel is wide enough to correctly position the tire beads on the wheel you will be OK. A wheel that is too narrow could be a handling and safety problem. I’m not a tire expert, but I’d try to get the width of the wheel you plan to mount these tires onto.

If it is an OEM wheel a site like could provide alternatives in tire size that would fit the car OK.


On every vehicle sold in the US, there is a sticker ? commonly called the tire placard - that lists the original tire size and the proper pressure for that size. The placard is usually located on a doorpost or in the glove box ? but sometimes it is located in the trunk or on the fuel filler door.

BTW, it doesn’t matter who makes the tire or what pressure is listed on the tire’s sidewall, if the tire size is the same as the placard, then the pressure listed on placard is also appropriate.

I think you’ll find the tire placard on the Mazda doesn’t say the original tire size was 185/70R15. According to Tire Guides, a 1999 Mazda 626 came with either P185/70R14 87S’s, P185/70R14 87H’s, or P205/60R15 90H’s.

Obviously your question is mute if the original tire size was the 14".

But if the original tire size is a 15", then you need to use the P205/60R15 90H as listed. Using a smaller tire is also using one that has less load carrying capacity and that increases the risk of a load related tire failure, which sometimes has tragic results.

You caught my typo. The Hyundai tires (donor) are 195/60-R14 (Load Range - 86s) and I’m hoping the Mazda tires (recepient) are 185/70-R14 (Load Range - 87s). The diameters are the same.


You could get away with it by using higher pressures than the placard calls for, but this starts to get kind of difficult to remember.

Personally, I’d recommend a pass on the Hyundai tires, because there are some pretty inexpensive tires in a 185/70R14.

I would go for the free tires, they are only one size wider and one size shorter sidewall, besides on a 99 car he probably isn’t making cross-country trips with 5 people in it. When I was young I was happy with any tire that wasn’t worn to the cords.