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I am attempting to get a straight answer regarding winter tires. The size as shown on the inside of the door is "215/60R/15". I am told that I can use 195/65R/15 and 205/65R/15 tires as well. Is this true or am I being mislead? HELP!

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Could you let us know the year/make/model/engine of the vehicle in question? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 1 '18 at 23:22
  • The vehicle is a 2003 Chev Malibu LS with a V-6 3.1L engine. Thank you for responding! – individjewel Nov 2 '18 at 6:15
  • You are told @individjewel? Is this information from the manufacturer or some other source? – GdD Nov 2 '18 at 8:06
  • I was told by Chevrolet that the best tires for this car would be the 215/60R/15 (OEM) but this is a 2003. They have very few winter tires in this size. A tire dealer told me that 195/65R/15 would fit fine as long as it has the same or higher speed rating than the 215/60R/15's... – individjewel Nov 2 '18 at 20:07
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Here's how it breaks down. The stock tires have a rolling diameter of about 24.4 inches (assuming a rolling diameter of 97 percent of the specified diameter, which is typical for passenger car tires).

The 195/65 tires have a rolling diameter of about 24.23 inches, or about 3/4 of a percent less than the stock tires. Clearance-wise that's a non-issue. Your ride height will be about 3/16 of an inch lower. Whether or not that's a problem is a judgement call. I would say probably no, unless your car is already quite low. Your speedometer will read about 3/4 of a percent higher (0.75 kph at 100 kph). The narrower tires will probably be slightly better in deep snow than the same tire at the stock size. I would say that's a reasonable trade off.

The 205/65 tires have a rolling diameter of about 24.73 inches, or a little more than 1 percent larger than the stock tires. I doubt that will be a clearance problem (it's less than 3/16 of an inch on the radius). Your speedometer will read about 1 percent low, or 1 kph at 100 kph. It's a slight increase in ride height but, for a passenger car, I doubt it's enough to be worried about. (The extra ride height might even help, in snow.) As with the 195s, this is probably a better size in snow than the stock tires because of being narrower, and also, in this case, taller.

So, all things considered, I think those are both reasonable choices.

  • Thank you for your answer ealarim! I just needed some confirmation as I was a little wary of an overly eager salesman's suggestions.... – individjewel Nov 2 '18 at 6:25
  • One more question, if I may... What are your thoughts about putting the exact size of tires ie. Toyo Observe GSi5 Winter in 215/60R/15 on the car versus the Pirelli Winter Ice Zero FR in 195/65/15 (which I'd prefer to put on)? Thank you again (and again)! – individjewel Nov 2 '18 at 6:51
  • @individjewel - Two things. Please don't stack questions in the comments. Ask a new question instead. 2nd, asking shopping questions is off-topic for the site. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 2 '18 at 10:41
  • I apologize. I guess my question is would it be advisable to put 195/65R/15 tires on this car - if the speed rating is the same or higher than the 215/60R/15 tires? – individjewel Nov 2 '18 at 20:10

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