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2009 2.5i Special Edition 4EAT and AWP
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Discussion Starter #1
Pardon my ignorance, but I'm learning about new tires.

I'm looking at possibly getting a set of snow tires for my 09 OB. Because it's an SE, it has the 17" rims with the 225/55R17 tires. Looking at that size for snow tires (and rims) jacks the price up significantly vs a 16" tire.

My question is, can I safely put a 16" rim on my car with snow tires and switch back to the 17" for summer? I'm assuming I can since the base OB in '09 had 16" wheels. I'm assuming there's nothing different with brake calipers, etc. on the SE vs the base.

Also, if I were to switch, what would be the best tire size to look at? 225/60R16? 215/65R16? Again, I'm very new to this, so I'm a little naive about the differences.

Another question, are (most) all 16" wheels created equal? What I mean by that is, if I buy a 16" rim with the proper lugs for my car, will most 16" tires fit it?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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17,624 Posts
rims of course need to clear the brake caliper, but there is also an issue of 'offset' so, it's important to confirm both those parameters. You can vary a few millimeters on the offset, but if it's far from nominal, there can be rubbing problems and it can stress the wheel bearing.

most any recent Subaru rim with the correct bolt pattern will have an offset that will be OK on another soob IF the brake calipers don't interfere.
 

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'18 3.6R Ltd
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According to cars101.com, the 2009 Outback 2.5i came with 16" steel wheels, so the right wheels at 16" will fit. You need not only the right lug pattern but also the right offset and hub size.

I'd suggest checking TireRack's winter wheel selection for your car. Maybe they'll offer a 16" option.

If you decrease wheel diameter by an inch, you need to increase the nominal sidewall height by a half inch (as there are two sidewalls in the diameter). An inch is 25.4 mm, so the sidewalls need to increase by 12.7 mm each.

Sidewall height is the first two numbers in the tire size multiplied and divided by 100 (the second number is really a percentage). So: 225/55 tires have 123.75 mm sidewalls; 225/60 tires have 135 mm sidewalls; 215/65 tires have 139.75 mm sidewalls. You're looking for 123.75 + 12.7 = 136.45 mm. TireRack will also help with tire selection. HPH
 

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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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I can't give you any specific answers, but I can probably give you a little more confidence. I used to manage a tire shop, but lived in an area of WA that didn't see a lot of aftermarket wheel business.

I have heard of others going from a 17" to a 16" with no problems. You're on the right track - if it clears the calipers, you're fine. The only other consideration is the TPMS sensors, but most people just leave the sensors off of their snow wheels. If I were you, I'd probably call around to different tire/wheel shops to see if they stock wheels. On the eve of nasty winter weather, some shops start stocking up, especially in common sizes. Your lug pattern is 5x100 (or verbally said "five on one hundred"). Ask if they have any in stock of 5x100, and if so, if they can test-fit a wheel on your car. Any standard steel wheel would probably work on your car. If so, onto the next step - tires.

Sorry if this is all review, but I'll explain tire sizing in case you're unsure of the numbers and how they work. (Its been years since I've dealt with tires, so I am a little rusty...disclaimer). Let's use your stock size as an example - 225/55/r17. The first part (225) is how wide the tire is (in millimeters if I'm not mistaken). A 215 would be less wide, and a 235 would be wider. The 2nd part (55) is how tall the tire is (distance from the rim to the ground.) This number can be *roughly* viewed as a percentage of the first number. (So, 55% of 225 mm.) And the 3rd number (r16) means it is a radial tire (i.e. modern tire) and a 16".

Having said all that, I would recommend sticking to a tire that is close to the overall diameter of the current stock tires. This means that if you have one inch less of wheel, you need to make up for it with tire, therefore going with a taller tire (a 60, 65, or possibly 70-series tire.) If I'm not mistaken, 215/70/r16 is a popular size, or at least was popular years ago. In general, you want a skinnier/taller tire to cut through the snow. This is the opposite thought process of snow-shoeing (where you want a wider tread pattern to dissipate the weight over a wide area.) But with snow tires, you want to cut through the snow with the least amount of resistance. The caveat here is that if you go too tall, your sidewalls will be weaker, making a very plush ride, but also giving up in road handling. So stick with a 60 to 70-series, while also staying in the 215 to 225 width. 205 is too narrow, and there arent any tall enough tires in the 205 width series to compensate for your smaller rim size.

Anyway, hope that gives you a little more of an idea on what to look for. Good luck!
 

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2009 2.5i Special Edition 4EAT and AWP
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Discussion Starter #5
Wow, great information! Thank you so much!

I'm going to have to do more research into what I want to do, but this certainly helps.
 
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