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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just drove home today with my Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 205/65R15 tires on 15" steel rims for my '21 Chevy Bolt LT.

This size has an identical diameter to the original tires, but several advantages:
1. These tires were nearly 62% of the price of the standard size ones, due to the size
2. These have a much taller sidewall, absorbing bumps from potholes
3. These have a narrower profile, which is a bit better in the snow (which we have over 120 inches of on average every winter)
4. The price of the rims plus tires was less expensive total than it would have been for just new tires mounted to my OEM wheels.
5. I'm kind of liking the urban assault vehicle look of the black wheels against the white car, so I may not get wheel covers for now (but I could, if I wanted to, I guess 😉).

I know there have been many other threads about tires, and I have read most if not all of them.

However, for someone just starting out here, it's pretty intimidating to wade through all of that, and there's also some misinformation. One of the biggest pieces of misinformation is some have stated here that you have to use 16" rims, and some have said that 15" won't fit (though some did say that they made 15" work, thank you!).* I spent many hours researching and reading, and felt like it would be great to have a summary for those new to the vehicle. I just saw someone new to the forum joining tonight, and already a poster told the newbie to go read and search all the existing posts. I was a newbie in June, and fortunately I kind of like researching these things. Most people I know just want the bottom line. I wanted to write the bottom line of what I found.

Hence this post.

I used the stock steel rims sold at The Tire Rack, and I found the same rims on ebay for even less $$ (it saves $80 for a pair of four). I actually had one here from the Tire rack already here as a spare, so I ordered three more from Ebay, and apart from the stickers, they appear to be identical.

Another point of info, I was about to go for the Blizzaks at Costco. With their special install deal that is going on, those would have been $678 for a set of four in the OEM size mounted to the OEM wheels, or $393 for the 205/65R15 size mounted to the steel wheels (plus $240 for the wheels. If you do the math, that's less money for a better setup for winter). Note, Costco has the Blizzak install deal through 11/22/21.

I ended up going with the Nokians because they had somewhat better ratings, and they were local. Costco is a five hour round trip drive for me. The Nokians ended up being $640 installed, with a $1 install deal. For the OEM size 215/50R17, this would have been $1026 installed to the OEM rims. I'm not sure why the OEM size is so much more money for less rubber. It must be due to popularity or something.

Note: if you go this route, you'll also need:
  • TPMS Sensors - like these on Ebay I got for $38.90 (I have no affiliation except as a customer, and I have not been able to test them yet since my tire shop's TPMS reprogrammer was out of service today)
  • Lug-centric lug nuts, like these I ordered from amazon for $13.90

That brings my project total to $932.80 out the door, compared to the same tire mounted to the OEM wheels that would have been $1026 out the door.

I was concerned that if I showed up at the tire shop with wheels, sensors, and lug nuts they'd give me hassles, but they didn't even pause. They had the install done and wheels swapped out in just over an hour.

Driving on them
In terms of driving, I immediately noticed a somewhat more cushy ride. One of my goals was a taller sidewall for the many bumps and potholes we have here. I had been a bit concerned about cornering with the taller sidewalls, and they do feel slightly more squishy, but it wasn't bad. I didn't feel like it was out of control or too diminished in responsiveness. I haven't tried them out at highway speeds on some of the mountain roads here. I can report back later on that.

Compared to the 16" rim options some here have used:
This is a less expensive setup, with more sidewall for those who want a more dampened ride for ice ruts and potholes (and less likelihood of rim damage).
The only disadvantage I see is that there's a somewhat lesser selection of tires in the 205/65R15 size - but I didn't have any problem finding several good options (Blizzaks, Nokians, Michelin X-Ice, Hancook, etc).

I was worried that it might not work out
There had been multiple posts here with worries about the 15" rims not clearing the front calipers. Fortunately, there was no problem.

One last note, I had given up waiting for the buyback/swap before the snow gets serious here. Just today, I heard back on a repurchase moving forward. What timing! I'm super glad that I got the tires on new rims, so I can easily take these off for a swap, if we can get that to happen.

* Important clarification: I was referring only to the steel wheels with that statement. Some have pointed out, correctly, that alloy wheels or other styles of steel wheel may not have sufficient clearance. I can only vouch for the steel wheels I linked to on Ebay and Tire Rack

Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Hood

26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As for research... there are many threads started to ask the same question that a short search would resolve. As a result, the forum gets more crowded and not easy to navigate. Luckily, the search works very well
The forum gets more crowded regardless. It is just how the information is structured. Try typing a search for “winter tires..” you will get 100’s of posts to read. This will be true regardless of whether they are topic starters or responses. (BTW - I run some forums so do have a good handle on how they work).

I have seen several people asking recently about winter tires because it’s that time of year. Yes, they could have waded through all the search results, or they could just go to the “home” and see that someone has had very recent experience solving this problem and find benefit in that.

There is no right way. But thank you for your input as to what you think the right way is. It is the internet afterall, and many have to share an opinion, even if it is meaningless to the facts at hand.

I get the idea of getting to the point and wanting to hear the bottom line, but what IF you get the bottom line from a wrong source?
That is again a risk with any internet forum post, period. It does not matter whether it‘s threaded or not.

However, I would think that a post providing real experience (with a picture of the result) would outweigh speculation. Do you think otherwise? I’m not sure I get your implication here.

And they are right.
Not EVERY 15" rim will fit. Some do, some do not. It all depends on the shape of the rim. I had KIA Forte5 SX. It was basically same as LX and EX trims, but had different suspension and bigger brakes. OEM was 18" size and I was looking for 16". Not each style worked. Took me a while to find one that was OK.
I will be clearer in my language. They are not right when it comes to these standard black steel wheels. That is what I am referring to. I have seen people debating whether they “will” fit or not, especially on the front. There were several posts discussing worries about tolerances with the front brake calipers, but those were purely speculative.

For someone who comes here looking for a solution (and who may not even know what a brake caliper is), all of that would be confusing and intimidating.

I posted with actual experience, which corroborates a few others’ experiences I found buried in some threads here after many hours of reading.

I agree that other 15” wheels may or may not work. I will edit my post to clarify.

It is not the popularity as you may see the more common size is 215/50x17, not 205/65x15. Yet the latter is cheaper.
It is more rubber, yes, but the profile is taller.
The lower profile requires different production and makes it more expensive. Do not quote me on that as I do not remember the whole article why 45 profile is more expensive than 65. Again, it was something with the side wall, its stiffness, and the face of the tire.
Okay, thanks for the info..?

26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for sharing, I think down sizing for winter use is a great idea. Any idea what the difference in total weight is per wheel assembly vs the 17" Aluminum?
I didn’t get a chance to weigh the new tires + rims before they were mounted to the car.

According to the Tire Rack website, the steel wheels are 17lbs, which if memory serves, is less than the stock aluminum wheels. (But don’t take my memory as gospel. I’m sure if you want to wade through search results you can find the info on the weight quickly).

I’ll also guess that the 205/65R15’s are a bit heavier than stock, since there’s more rubber.

In terms of driving feel, they do not feel heavier. They do feel squishier.

26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What I meant here is you asking the question about 15" rim and hearing from the first person - no, it does not fit. And you trust it and walk away.
Yet, some research will prove that certain styles and offsets may clear the caliper enough to make them usable.
Yes, lots of research. And that was my point, but you seemed to miss it.

Internet is full of wrong information. Like even your statement about low profile tires being more expensive due to them being more popular...
What I actually wrote was: "It must be due to popularity or something."

If you didn't recognize that as a not-intended-to-be-factual-sounding quip, then I'm sorry. But I do think most users would recognize that I wasn't making a statement there, I was just speculating in a rhetorical way. My actual belief is the opposite: that it may be the lack of popularity that makes it more expensive. The molds for the tires are a major capital investment that must be amortized over the number of tires produced. The less tires bought of a particular size, the more expensive per tire that amortization will be. Therefore, ironically, those of us who are avoiding buying tires in the stock size are "making" them more expensive for those who do, because we aren't sharing the cost of the tire molds.

C'est La Vie

I think you do not appreciate help here. I got this feeling half way through your responses and the last one was kind of summary of it.

Good luck, man.
You weren't helping, so I didn't appreciate it. If you had something of value to add, apart from picking apart my post, then I would have appreciated it. Even then, I would not have needed your help, "man."


26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I prefer the steel wheels in winter. I call it "battle mode". Here's a picture of Quicksilver this morning. No hubcaps needed. Plus, when you're shoveling your car free after getting plowed into a snowbank, you can stab the shovel straight down next to the wheel and not worry about scratching anything.
I love that image of "battle mode" :) That's certainly an accurate description of what goes on with our roads in the winter. We often get a foot or more of snow in-between infrequent plowing sessions, so it turns the roads into icy, rutted carnivals of chaos. Sometimes the only car of ours that will make it is the Land Cruiser AWD with studless winter tires. I like driving the electrics (Bolt + Volt) better, but there's something to be said for clearance and a big V8 in those conditions! Maybe a new electric Hummvee? Hmmmm... Naw.. over $100k is out of my budget.

As for TPMS, my set was similar price to yours. You don't need a "TPMS reprogramer" tool/technician at all (I think of "TMPS programming" as interfacing with the car and telling the car the new TPMS codes). For the Bolt, you only need a "TPMS relearn tool", like this : B07Z968ZD1
Thanks for the clarification on relearn vs reprogram. I think in all my reading I may have understood that distinction at one point, then it was promptly lost in the overfilled recesses of my brain. Anyway, if my local shop doesn't get it together soon, I'll just order one and do it myself. But I'm trying to get out of that habit of doing auto work myself. I'm too busy for that... :(

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