Wheel Size

I bought a 2009 Mazda 6 new. It had 18 inch wheels on it. Right after getting it, it developed a noise coming from the driver side front tire that sounded like a bad wheel baring. after a month of working on it, I was told the noise is a defect in the design that affects that model with 18 inch wheels. I swapped it out for 16 inch wheels and it made it a little better but did not get rid of it.

I now have 16 inch wheels. Other than looks is there a performance or fuel economy difference in the wheels?

And don’t buy a Mazda 6!

What ever happened to problems under a warranty, shirly, you must be covered. I think your problem must not be a wheel size problem, but a problem somewhere else the dealer should fix. The tire size is the determining factor, and the rim size is not a factor in your question as far as I can see.

As long as your overall diameter is the same, mechanical performance (braking acceleration) will be similar, ride smoothness should be better, but handling will suffer with the higher profile tire. You will have better safety margin with impacts with potholes and curbs as well. Powerdog.cm will help you assess your tire size difference relative to rim diameter. I agree, it sounds like another problem. Wheels with offsets different from design intent can stress wheel and suspension components, but since it was factory installed it would be beyond a guess on a forum.
I don’t buy their explanation though as far as the noise is concerned. I’d keep at them and take it to a district manager if not satisfied.

You might actually get slightly better mileage with the 16" wheels, because they probably weigh less than the 18" wheels. Any difference will be minor.

I seriously doubt there will be any performance difference. You’d have to drive ar race track speeds to notice the difference.

Replacement tires will be much less expensive, too.

I also doubt the explanation for the noise. People change wheel sizes all the time, no problem. And I bet they’re selling other 6s with 18" wheels (you could take a look at the lot, see if any are there with the ‘problem’ wheels). BS, in other words. Stay on them.

Unless they can tell you exactly what the design defect is and exactly how it manifests itself as the noise, I say BALOGNA. Their’s is among the sorryest excuses I’ve heard yet.

The fact that switching wheels did not eliminate the noise I present as evidence that it’s balogna.

Now to your final question. As long as the smaller wheels clear the calipers, which they apparently do, they’ll work fine, albiet with some loss of handling and stability. One thing you should be aware of is that if the tire rolling circumference is different it’ll affect the accuracy of your speedometer and odometer. www.carbibles.com has a comparison calculator that’ll give you the amount of effect it has. You’ll need the tire sizes for the 18 inch and 16 inch tires to use it. Note that a significant change will affect your mileage calculations and could even affect performance. The carbibles site will explain how and whay.

Oh, here’s an idea. Since they claim that sound is normal for Mazda 6 cars with 18 inch wheels, make them come with you on a tes drive of one of the ones on their lot. Ask them why it isn’t making the same sound. Test their statement.

Hey guys, thanks for the information.
Yes it is under warranty and I have been calling and complaining to everyone at Mazda I can with little effect.

They also took my car for 2 days and had Mazda designers drive it with some kind of listening device and still can not tell me what the actual issue is.

All I get is that it is normal for that car to make that noise, which is big BS.

If it’s normal than another one on the lot should make the same noise. Try another off the lot. If it doesn;t make the noise, have them ride with you and try it again.

The “listening device” is simply a portable setup with stick-on accelerometers (vibration sensors) and a screen to look at the vibrations they detect. There may also be a headset that the tech can listen with. They can help by isolating a noise if the accelerometers are in the right spots, but no result doesn’t mean there’s no noise.

I have the 2.5L 17" wheel version of that vehicle, and have heard no such noise. I would take it to another dealer and explain the situation. changing from the 18"s to 16"s to fix the problem sounds scetchy at best. I can’t believe that the Mazda people are giving you such grief. I’ve never had a problem with my service dept. Don’t condemn the car as a whole b/c of the wheel problem, it’s a great car for the money. Good luck.

Make sure you get and retain a receipt for every visit. After a certain number, you are entitled to a new car at their expense. Check the lemon law in your state. The information should be on line. It’s probably 5 or 6 visits within 2 years or so. Make sure you follow the requirements exactly. You likely will have to write a letter to Mazda informing them that you visited for the next-to-last time. You do not have to put up with this. No one would buy the Mazda6 with these wheels if it made a noise like this. I doubt Mazda would offer this option if all or most cars made the ugly noise.