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Wheel and Tire Replacement

I have a 2006 Lincoln Zepher with P225/50R17 wheels and tires. The ride seems a little harsh. Can I change to a smaller wheel with more tire and still be safe? Will the ride be significantly better? I asked Ford Motor Company and they gave me the expected response “replace with like tires”. The Oldster

Replacing the wheels can get complicated, but there are aftermarket wheels available for your car. If you go that route you should should sell your old wheels on ebay to get some money out of them.

Replacing the tires is much easier. Ride quality can differ greatly, so you need to focus on ride quality when you shop. Tirerack.com gives good user tire reviews. In general I’ve found Michelin tires tend to have a better ride and handle the bumps with less harshness than most other tires.

Its much easier to increase the wheel size and use a lower profile tire than it is to go in the other direction. You may not be able to do what you want if there isn’t enough clearance for the brakes with a smaller wheel.

Even if there is enough clearance for a smaller diameter wheel, it will be hard to find a tire shop willing to sell or mount tires that are a different size that the one listed on the inflation placard on your car.

With a smaller wheel, there may not be room for the brake hardware.

In the Tire Rack survey for your current tire, what do people say about the ride comfort? Perhaps you can find a tire of the same size that’s rated much better in that area.

Good News: According to Tire Rack, you can fit 16" tires to this vehicle (205/60R16 XL)

Bad News: You will have to use 6 more psi, which is going to stiffen up the ride.

More Bad News: Only 1 tire is available in an XL in that size (other than winter tires) - Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum.

Good News: That Kumho is rated highly for ride.

In all likelihood, this combination will result in a better ride, BUT you will be stuck with using this XL tire with its limited availablility for as long as you own the car - AND - it’s possible this tire will disappear and you won’t be able to find anything to fit.

The safest bet is to look at the surveys of tires in your current size - Tire Rack is a good place - and find a tire that is rated better than the one you currently have. That size is very likely to stay around.

I agree with the others, find a smoother-riding tire in your current size, there are models specifically designed for that. What brand/model do you currently use?

The Zephyr shares brakes with the Fusion so any of the Fusion 16" rims will work perfectly with a p205/60r16 tire.

P205/60-16 is a pretty common tire, I’m surprised that tire rack only has one brand. Costco carries this size in Michelin MXV4 and Bridgestone Turanza, both smooth riding tires. But I would think that a 215/60-16 would work and be much better.

Just checked, tirerack has plenty of different 205/60-16 and 215/60-16 tires in stock, including the Michelin Primacy (a very smooth tire).

Just to make sure everyone understands:

In order to match the load carrying capacity of the original tire supplied to the OP’s Lincoln, the 205/60R16 has to be an Extra Load tire - and inflated to 6 more psi than is what is listed on the vehicle tire placard. That severely limts what can be SAFELY used.

This is another example of not totally checking out the car you are buying. It is much easier to pick a car that meets your needs before your buy than to try and adjust the error your bought.

Good Luck.  You have come to a good place to get advice on how to the best choices available for your situation.

I’m with @keith It’s not rocket science. Go for it if you have the $$$. Personally, I wouldn’t add rims unnecessarily unless it were for snows.

Google “one off rims” to get good deals on rims traded in from newer cars. I have and got great deals. There should be several suppliers to choose from. One from the mid west sent me rims with no shipping charge and they arrived in less then 5 days. Unbelievable!

Another option is to test fit one size up say, 225/55/17 or go with Keith’s slightly larger option if you get new rims. (Keep the old ones for resale or trade in. They may look better to a perspective buyer.) Test fit on both front and rear and under load. Some dealers will do it, some won’t. If you have abs only, it should not be an issue to up size. If you have traction, stability control etc. it may be and that becomes another issue as the settings will be different.

Goto “powerdog” and get complete info tire size options. Ski rack is limited to what the are liable for. Do the research yourself to educate yourself on options. IMHO, most cars will handle up sizing one size.
http://www.powerdog.com/

WORD OF CAUTION:

Powerdog doesn’t calculate the revilutions per mile correctly. They are basing their value on the calculated freestanding diameter and unfortunately tires don’t roll on that diameter. If you need to have a good estimate, use 97% of that value.

@capriracer
I don’t disagree. Thanks for your input…but. Since the more important issue is the difference in the number of rotations as a percent and not the actual number, why is that an issue ? If you take 97% of all the numerical values the differences as a percent from these given would be negligible. We are also, not taking into account tire wear, load and tire pressure. So, i believe, everything is relative and the important information as given is perfectly valid.
Besides, wouldn’t 97% just be an estimate itself as the deflection from one tire to another could vary as well ?
The key in using “powerdog” or any evaluation tool for tire size, is to see that the sizes either match in use or are within an acceptable margin. To that end, powerdog serves it’s purpose IMO, as is.

Thanks to all of those that contributed to this discussion.

I don’t think an inch would make a huge difference to be honest. You don’t really have super low-profile tires to begin with, so I think it’s a matter of finding a tire with a good rating for ride quality with your current wheels.