View Full Version : Steel Is Real...aka The Great Winter Tire/Wheel Search

September 25th, 2015, 03:05 PM
Tried to brute-force my way through last winter with FWD and all-seasons and life is just too short to do that again, especially since I live on a hill. Searching for a CL-based solution and the most-popular option is the old "black steelies" route, which is definitely my second choice after some winter-suitable alloys, but whatever.

I understand about minus sizing for winter tires, bolt patterns and center bores, where hub-centric spacers may come into play, and why I want to stay away from wheels that have a smaller center bore than the 64.1 I've got now. What I don't understand is how the concept of center bore applies to black steel wheels. It seems that there are both OEM-type steel wheels and non-OEM, but I have no idea how to tell the difference and I'm pretty sure most sellers don't either. Are black steelies designed to adapt to different-sized hubs, or are they simply lug-centric? I've been poring over the entire Internet and I don't have to tell you that it's hard to tell the good information from the stuff that comes out of people's asses.

For instance, I see a few black steelies/snow tire combos that have come off 2007-2012 Camries (I hear they're popular), which my research tells me have a center bore of 60.1. If those were alloys, there's no way they would fit without spacers, and I'm not doing that. But if they are OEM Toyota steelies, won't I have the same problem? If they came from a tire store, won't they be universal? Or is this type of wheel lug-centric so as long as the bolt pattern works, they will be fine?

And where does offset come into play with black steel wheels? Do I need to be concerned with that? Forgive my ignorance, but the last time I had a FWD vehicle, I had a set of barely-worn snow tires given to me by one of the owners of the company I worked for, and I just bought steel wheels from the Honda dealership to go with them, kind of a no-brainer. This time I'm buying everything at once and don't have $600 to spend, so...CL.

I'll tell you what I do know - I'm staying the hell away from studded tires. I'll be spending too much time on clear roads to put up with that noise for five months.

September 25th, 2015, 03:45 PM
Wheels are wheels, doesn't matter the material. You always have the same PCD, hub bore, offset, width, diameter considerations whether alloy, steel, magnesium, or whatever. When you're talking steelies, I think people tend to assume a lot and don't get down to the details, but yes, they all matter. You want a hubcentric wheel wherever possible. It tends to improve the right and makes installation easier. It is not explicitly necessary, however, so as long as the bore on the wheel is bigger than the one on the car, you can at least try it out. Sort of in the same vein, there is a window for offset that is typically quite large, but the closer you get in dimension to the factory wheel, the higher the chance it will fit without rubbing. Typically, at the same width, 5 or 10 in either direction won't hurt. More than that and you may run into issues - you'll want to test fit first.

September 25th, 2015, 03:48 PM
I'm running (or will be again in about a month, I guess) a set of Champiro Ice Pro (http://www.gtradial-us.com/en/CHAMPIRO_ICEPRO.html) tires, which are studdable, but I bought them without the studs, as most folks do around here. They've been just fine in the mostly dry and powdery snow out here. I see them on lots of cars. They're cheap, too - the set of four 195-65-15 tires were under $400 installed last fall. I'm sure you can get better, but these are perfectly adequate for my needs.

September 25th, 2015, 04:03 PM
I get that if the bore of the wheel is larger than what I have on the car, I can just get hubcentric spacers. But I also get the issue with wheels that have smaller bores, which is why buying steelies that have been on a Camry makes me nervous. And the offset...I'm just going to have to hope that most 5x114.3 steel wheels are within the window I need, because no seller is going to know the answer to that question.

September 25th, 2015, 05:33 PM
Spacers don't *typically* work the same on steel wheels as they do on alloys. Since steel wheels are stamped, the hub section is not generally formed in such a way that conventionally spacers will work. You would need a spacer for steel wheels, which may exist but I have never seen it. Also, alloy hub spacers are generally designed to go from "universal" hub bores of 70mm+ to actual car bores of <70mm. There aren't off the shelf spacers to go from "Saab center bore to Ford center bore." That would be something custom someone would have to make. There is no way to go from a smaller wheel bore to a larger car bore - that would require an actual adapter of some type, which absolutely does not exist and would have to be made. People totally make those things, but they're around $50 per corner.

You will probably want to know the offset, or at least what car they originally came from so you can look it up. 5x114 is a very common bolt pattern, so you will find wheels ranging from negative offset to high positive offset. Honda typically uses "high offset" wheels in the +45-55mm range, which means you aren't going to bolting up Mustang or Chrysler wheels.

September 28th, 2015, 06:07 PM
You can buy steel wheels at the recycler/ scrapyard/ dismantler for probably $20 each

March 24th, 2016, 09:46 AM
Now that winter is all but over, an update...last fall, I ended up finding on CL a set of 16" steel wheels with a set of half-worn Continental snow tires, the model name of which escapes me at the moment. Paid $150 for everything, which was a damn good deal, especially considering that this winter barely required me to have snow tires at all. The few times they were needed, they were greatly appreciated and reminded me just how much snow tires can pick up the slack between FWD and AWD. Was expecting my mileage to suffer a bit - don't snow tires have a compound that increases rolling resistance? - but that hasn't happened, which is fine by me.

Pics or it didn't happen. This was on 12/28/15, the night before our first real snowfall of the season.

March 24th, 2016, 09:51 AM
$150 is a good deal! Nice find! Hopefully all the dry roads didn't chew up the tires too bad and you can get another season out of them. ;)

March 24th, 2016, 12:58 PM
I'll definitely be looking for winter tires this year.

March 24th, 2016, 04:34 PM
$150 is a good deal! Nice find! Hopefully all the dry roads didn't chew up the tires too bad and you can get another season out of them. ;)

Yeah, well, the fronts definitely look a little worse for wear (heh) (that 1,600-mile road trip did them no favors), but I'm planning to swap them with the rears next season, which will most likely be their last. Would like to scrap the tires, sell the steelies and find a set of TL rims like this (https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ze-qaUuD3SQ/hqdefault.jpg) but a) they're not too common up here at b) I bet they'd be absolute murder to clean snow out of.