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Discussion Starter #1
First, let me apologize. I concede there's ample information on the forum about tires and rims. My issue is filtering, and I need some help. So, apologies and appreciation in advance.

To set the stage, this is a '09 stock red/black cabrio with an aftermarket stereo and smart madness cruise mod (on the wiper stick). 40K miles. It's the daily work driver. Boring to most folks on this forum: perhaps. But, I'm not shooting glossies for car mags all day, and just being 1 of 2 fortwos in the area creates enough stares, no need to make it stand out more. One of these days, it'll sprout swing-up doors, and perhaps a grounds effects package, mainly because the matte black stuff does look a bit boring. But, overall, I don't need to spice up the unit.

However, the ride has always been rough, and the tires seem somewhat puny for the car. On drives to work, it's no issue, but I drive the car to Chicago from IA at times, a 4 hour drive, and you can tell on a drive that long.

I think that means I'd like to get taller tires, but I could be wrong. I've spent some time looking at people's work on here, and here are some thoughts:

17" rims and tires seem like the wrong direction to go for my requirements, and even if not, I'm just not warming to the all rim/no tire concept. Personal view, obviously. So, not to pick on this poster, but Z06-lite's Gallery - My Brabus coupe Smart Car of America Gallery isn't a direction I want to go.

Never had to rotate tires, and don't feel it's an issue. So, I'm not yearning for the same size on all 4 corners. Don't mind it, per se, but if I'm honest, I think I actually notice the tire size differences on the unit now, and I think I like it (more meat, as it were, in back).

Not married to the rims, but wouldn't change the rims just to change them. If I do get new, all-black is too black for me. Above all, though, I need a rim that will stand up to IA winters, salt, etc. If it needs constant polishing or cleaning, it ain't happening.

Buying one set of tires, so need all seasons. Summer is so fleeting in the midwest, and I tend to push the car at times, so something with more all-around help is desired. But, for true winter weather, the other vehicle is a Ford F350 DRW long bed crew cab, so I don't need this car to handle winter all that well.

Don't need ESP to drive, but I do tend to take advantage of it. Thus, it needs to work with the new setup. So, in response to http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f64/tires-should-i-get-35831/index3.html#post397976, I don't "freak" out when ESP turns on, but on the other hand, I don't want to think about car handling when I'm driving, so I'd be leery of adding too much oversteer.

Looking at options on the pages, I like this setup:

http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f64/tires-should-i-get-35831/index12.html#post406930

and this one:

http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/fo...5-55r15s-all-around-awesome-49637/#post575474

though, I probably like the more aggressive stance of the first tires over the second.

On this pic:
http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f64/195-55s-all-around-48764/#post563775

The rears look a bit small to me, compared to the front, but maybe it's just the lighting.

On the other hand, this poster:

http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f64/what-brand-tire-48598/#post561503

says the ASTs don't look as good. But, I can't tell from the pic what looks better, or what the poster thought looked better.

and, a whole bunch of posts drag the Kuhmo tires through the mud, but it's unclear whether they are referring to the upsale tires or the KH16s

Would prefer no rub. Not a huge deal, but doesn't seem worth the additional concern to get a "look".

In this post: http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f64/tire-size-help-please-48277/ , OP notes SM claims to stay with stock on rear, but I thought I saw 205/50/15s on 6.5" rims all over. Confusing

It *appears* to get more tire under the car, I need to buy rims. If so, I do like the gun metal Darwins, but I am concerned about care.

I don't like these quite a well, but I bet they are easy to care for:
http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/fo...e-my-tires-club-25415/index45.html#post552605

The rial option at Tirerack seems to look similar to the above, but they're not growing on me. Maybe brushed silver is not my thing, don't know. (Yes, I know the '09 has silver painted rims, and if I am honest, they are probably, along with the skirt, the part I would choose if someone asked what part of the car I thought was boring). I thought about red/black, but I have not seen a smart so adorned that I like. It looks too "pretentious" for a daily driver. If folks have a pic of something I should consider, I'd be interested.

I *think* I should be looking at staying with the 15" rim size. I understand the front rims at 15x4.5, and the rears are 15x5.5. Many of the options above (205/50 and 195/55) demand a 5.5" rim, so the front rims might need replacing. But, I understand I need to keep the ratios close to prevent ESP issues.

If you've made it here, thanks for reading. Any and all help would be appreciated. I've been researching for a few weeks, since the tire shop noted a broken belt on the RR a few weeks back and I know both rears are almost to the wear bar. But, a flat on the RF this week has forced me to step up the search.

What I'm missing on the site is a page that shows a glamour pic or two of each person's tire/rim options (maybe a side view, and a view down the line of the side from the front, to show tread on the front and rear tires, and how far they stick out from the body, if any), coupled with the specs (front: X/YrZ on AxB rims. rear...) so folks could quickly scan for rubber/metal options they want to pursue.

Jim
 

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2009 451 Rally Red, Pennzoil Platinum Euro 5W-40, Wix XP 51356, 185/55R15 tires, 44 psl
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let me narrow the options....

Let me see if I can help narrow down the options a little...

205 (/50R15) on the rear is too tall and wide. Major power hole at 50 MPH. Car takes forever to get from 45 to 55..., either downshift and rev the heck out of it, or a lot of patience is needed...

195 (/50R15) is smaller than stock 175/55R15. Car has plenty of power, I want mileage...

A good combo for me is 4 175/55R15's all around. If you inflate to around 250 KPA (max is 300), ride gets a little harsh, but handling and tire wear drastically improves...
You can also rotate tires front to back...

The front rims are too narrow for 175's, get two rear rims (or 4 new) and then you only have to buy two tires...

I have no experience with 16 or 17 inch rims, so I can't comment there....
 

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The fact remains that you are driving a short wheelbase car. Not much you can do about a rough ride except to lengthen the wheelbase and add weight. I changed to stock size Kumho tires and that did help somewhat on the ice heaves common on Minnesota roads but it is not a cure all. I have heard changing to rear sized tires all around does help the ride, and handling in cross winds but I haven't tried that yet. I use Kumhos in the summer, and Blizzacks for the winter. All my tires are on Pure stock (steel) rims. I painted up a set of wheel covers to add a nice accent and get compliments on them all the time.
 

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"195 (/50R15) is smaller than stock 175/55R15. Car has plenty of power, I want mileage..."

Actually the 195/50/15 is slightly larger than the 175/55/15...
 

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Personally I run 5 (Yes FIVE) 175/55R15 all around.

I have an add-a-spare for peace of mind on long trips.

I have a 2008 Cabrio with 79K miles. So, I drive it very long distances.
 

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Any rear tire near stock height will look too small. There is a big gap between the top of the rear tire and the fender opening. That will not change until and unless the rear of the car is lowered.

Front tires 195/50-15 on 5-1/2 wheels, rear tires 205/50-15 on 6-1/2 wheels with Smart Madness lowering springs on the photo below.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
For reference:

155/60r15 is 22.3"H x 6.1"W (stock front)
175/55r15 is 22.6" H x 6.89"W (stock rear). Ratio is 22.3/22.6 = .987 or 1.3% difference.
195/50r15 is 22.7"H x 7.68"W
185/55r15 is 23"H x 7.28"W
205/50r15 is 23.1"H x 8.07"W
165/65r15 is 23.4" x 6.5"W
195/55r15 is 23.4"H x 7.68"W
185/60r15 is 23.7"H x 7.28"W
205/55r15 is 23.9"H x 8.07"W
205/60r15 is 24.7"H x 8.07"W
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You're not going to like the ride with 17"s. You would like the handling.
What's what I thought. And, I'm not naive when it comes to rough ride. I know it won't feel like a sleeper car, no matter the tire. My point was that I am more than willing to trade handling for ride.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Any rear tire near stock height will look too small. There is a big gap between the top of the rear tire and the fender opening. That will not change until and unless the rear of the car is lowered.

Front tires 195/50-15 on 5-1/2 wheels, rear tires 205/50-15 on 6-1/2 wheels with Smart Madness lowering springs on the photo below.
Thanks for the information on the springs. I'll look into that.

Since you run 205/195 combo, can you comment on the above posters notes about you running into a "hole" at 50MPH?
 

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Thanks for the information on the springs. I'll look into that.

Since you run 205/195 combo, can you comment on the above posters notes about you running into a "hole" at 50MPH?
I don't know to what hole he is referring. I drive around the holes. :wink:

Perhaps he is referring to accelerating from 45-50 mph in top gear. A light-throttle upshift can occur as early as 40 mph. Not much torque on tap at that low an engine speed. Stab the throttle and it will downshift. No hole, no waiting, no problem.
 
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