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Discussion Starter #1
I have a new 2013 Outback 2.5i with the Conti 215/70/16 tires. I am going to put on snow tires and was wondering about "minus sizing" as I will put the tires on another set of wheels. Would a 205/60/16 or 205/65/16 be an appropriate size for the snow tires? Do you guys have other size suggestions?

Thx in advance
 

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I don't have an answer to your question, but are you sure of your current tire size? The stock tire size is 225-60-17.
 

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215/70/16 is a decently tall profile skinny tire to start with. I'd stick with that. Bang for your buck tires are General Altimax Arctic, Hankook iPike, and Firestone Winterforce.

The other 2 you listed are narrower, but have less sidewall, not really what you'd want.
 

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And if you're looking to go cheaper staying stock with 225/65/16 seems to give you about $10 off per tire on tirerack when no sales/rebates are in the mix (I was doing the same shopping not long ago, but ended up going with 215/70/16 Michelin X-ice Xi2's given a $70 rebate they have going on through the end of this month). While minus sizing makes logical sense to me, I'm not sure how much a 10mm difference will really make in section width (225->215) and I haven't found any winter tire tests where section width was the only variable.
 

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215/70/16 is a decently tall profile skinny tire to start with. I'd stick with that. Bang for your buck tires are General Altimax Arctic, Hankook iPike, and Firestone Winterforce.

The other 2 you listed are narrower, but have less sidewall, not really what you'd want.
I second this, strongly. Stick with that size.
 

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In any case, if you drop down to 205s, you'd need to go to 205/75s to maintain about the same overall diameter (and keep the speedometer as accurate as possible, etc). (205/60 or 65 would be way, way off.)

And I'd hate to think how 205/75-16 snow tires would perform on dry pavement. Ycch. HPH
 

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Discussion Starter #10
And if you're looking to go cheaper staying stock with 225/65/16 seems to give you about $10 off per tire on tirerack when no sales/rebates are in the mix (I was doing the same shopping not long ago, but ended up going with 215/70/16 Michelin X-ice Xi2's given a $70 rebate they have going on through the end of this month). While minus sizing makes logical sense to me, I'm not sure how much a 10mm difference will really make in section width (225->215) and I haven't found any winter tire tests where section width was the only variable.
so a 225/65/16 would work fine? I can get the new Xi3's in that size and I believe the rebate applies as well.
 

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If you want to get your tire sizing right, I suggest the following web site. I used it when resizing from OEM 17" to 16" snow tires.

Tire size calculator :29:
 

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so a 225/65/16 would work fine? I can get the new Xi3's in that size and I believe the rebate applies as well.
Theoretically a narrower tire does better in snow, but I have yet to see anyone be able to quantify how much narrower the tire has to be in order to give noticeably improved handling in the snow. Certainly, I'm not saying the width of the tire does not matter, but all I ever see is hearsay about a 215 section width being better than a 225, so I say go with whichever tire is cheaper given how short most winter tire's lives are. As for ice, the tread width is what is important and tread width is not typically the same as section width (supposedly narrower tires give higher pressure and therefore more "bite" into the ice since there is a smaller surface area to spread the weight of the car over). Section width is the measure of the widest part of the tire which is usually the sidewalls.

All that in mind, the rubber compound used and tread pattern probably matter just as much or more than the above factors.

Also, where did you find Xi3's in 225/65/16? I didn't think they made them available in that size yet (otherwise I probably would have purchased them). I just double-checked Michelin's website and they indicate it is not yet available in that size.
 

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I have a 2.5i Premium, which came with 17" wheels. I bought a set of General Altimax Arctics in the same 215/70-16 that your base model has... Mounted on some steel wheels, of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thx for all the feedback and please correct me if my thinking on wheels is wrong here. I have a 2013 2.5 standard with the 16 inch wheels - 215/70/16 size. Since I need to get wheels and in my research am favoring the new X-ice 3 tires I am thinking of buying the 225/60/17 size that comes standard on the 2.5 limited outback. Is there any problem with my thinking?
 

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Thx for all the feedback and please correct me if my thinking on wheels is wrong here. I have a 2013 2.5 standard with the 16 inch wheels - 215/70/16 size. Since I need to get wheels and in my research am favoring the new X-ice 3 tires I am thinking of buying the 225/60/17 size that comes standard on the 2.5 limited outback. Is there any problem with my thinking?
No technical problems (provided you get rims with the correct 5x100 bolt pattern and a couple other considerations--if one of the major websites says it fits, it probably does). I would guess that you would likely be getting some new or used alloy wheels (steel wheels don't seem to be readily available in 17" sizing many places if at all) and rims tend to get pricier in 17" sizing (unless you can find someone trying to offload stock 17" rims here, on craigslist, or possibly ebay if the price is right).

Also, snow tires for 17" rims tend to be more expensive as well.

One thing I might recommend if you go this route and buy the 17's is to let the Xi3s run to their end of life course and maybe you can get "lucky" on timing with both sets of tires (winter + other 3 seasons) wearing out at the same time and swap so you've got a set of alloys for the 3 seasons that are less harsh on them and your current steel wheels for winter use. This would be an expensive year for tires, but you can offset by 3 months or 9 months depending on which season the swapping occurs. This would let you have nicer looking rims for 3 seasons and also get cheaper tire prices in the future--the Xi3's and other new generations of tires will eventually replace the Xi2's I just bought, but since it's their introductory year they aren't quite ready or willing to support all sizes yet.

The main reason I would not do what you are suggesting (unless you plan to swap alloys in for summer use as suggested above) is that it sounds like you are buying the rim based on the tire and the tire options always change (they keep developing new tire technologies and therefore new tires). The consumer reports top rated Xi3 could be the second or third tier tire next year with how many competitors are in the business. That in mind, the Xi3 is surely a great tire based on its reviews, just like the Xi2, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R, the Blizzak WS70 and DM-V1, and many other tires. The differences between the tires are not great enough to me to the point where I could justify making future tire purchase prices higher by getting a larger rim size just to get a specific tire in its first year of production. For instance, the Xi2's and Xi3's tied as Consumer Reports top rated winter tire--for slightly different reasons of course, but they are both great tires along with the many other options out there.

Personally, I would get a used set of 16" rims or steel wheels and toss on the best tires you can find in that category for the best price in either 215/70/16 or 225/65/16.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
No technical problems (provided you get rims with the correct 5x100 bolt pattern and a couple other considerations--if one of the major websites says it fits, it probably does). I would guess that you would likely be getting some new or used alloy wheels (steel wheels don't seem to be readily available in 17" sizing many places if at all) and rims tend to get pricier in 17" sizing (unless you can find someone trying to offload stock 17" rims here, on craigslist, or possibly ebay if the price is right).

Also, snow tires for 17" rims tend to be more expensive as well.

One thing I might recommend if you go this route and buy the 17's is to let the Xi3s run to their end of life course and maybe you can get "lucky" on timing with both sets of tires (winter + other 3 seasons) wearing out at the same time and swap so you've got a set of alloys for the 3 seasons that are less harsh on them and your current steel wheels for winter use. This would be an expensive year for tires, but you can offset by 3 months or 9 months depending on which season the swapping occurs. This would let you have nicer looking rims for 3 seasons and also get cheaper tire prices in the future--the Xi3's and other new generations of tires will eventually replace the Xi2's I just bought, but since it's their introductory year they aren't quite ready or willing to support all sizes yet.

The main reason I would not do what you are suggesting (unless you plan to swap alloys in for summer use as suggested above) is that it sounds like you are buying the rim based on the tire and the tire options always change (they keep developing new tire technologies and therefore new tires). The consumer reports top rated Xi3 could be the second or third tier tire next year with how many competitors are in the business. That in mind, the Xi3 is surely a great tire based on its reviews, just like the Xi2, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R, the Blizzak WS70 and DM-V1, and many other tires. The differences between the tires are not great enough to me to the point where I could justify making future tire purchase prices higher by getting a larger rim size just to get a specific tire in its first year of production. For instance, the Xi2's and Xi3's tied as Consumer Reports top rated winter tire--for slightly different reasons of course, but they are both great tires along with the many other options out there.

Personally, I would get a used set of 16" rims or steel wheels and toss on the best tires you can find in that category for the best price in either 215/70/16 or 225/65/16.
cool, thx for the thoughts, I did this morning find the Michelin X-ice 3 available ay my local Ford dealer in the 225/65/16 size, I guesss that size is slowly becoming available in some places. Apparently Ford is going after the tire market here in the PNW as they also offer a price matching policy.
I did remember I have some older 16 inch steel rims with some old ice bears (bought in 2004) for my 2004 Forester. I guess I should check out if the will work, they have been outside wrapped in plastic for 2-3 years (with tires on), likely need to have then checked out.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Interesting, just called by local Sub dealer to see if they had any take off rims. What they had was a used set of studded Hankooks in pretty decent shape on 16in rims and they were only $275 total. Heck that's as or cheaper then I can find just steel rims for. The tires are 215/60/16 Hankooks which some have said are "too small" but heck it's the same size I run on my 04 Forrester and that size works great with my snows. This seems a good solution for at least this year and I can upgrade tires next yr if I want.
 

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I did remember I have some older 16 inch steel rims with some old ice bears (bought in 2004) for my 2004 Forester. I guess I should check out if the will work, they have been outside wrapped in plastic for 2-3 years (with tires on), likely need to have then checked out.
For what it's worth, even though you found a great deal that it looks like you're pursuing, if the rims fit your Forester, the same bolt pattern is used and would likely fit your Outback.
 
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