Jump to content


Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse
 

Photo
- - - - -

1996 Outback: 16" Wheel upgrade. Worth it?


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:29 AM

I have a 1996 Outback with stock 15" wheels. I have recently replaced the struts, with KYBs and intalled an IPD Sway Bar and set at it 24mm setting (it can be set at 20mm, 22mm or 24mm).

In considering a wheel/tire upgrade, I am after better handling. I have been told that a wheel/tire upgrade, to 16" or 17" wheels, coupled with a more performance oriented tire will be dramatic improvement over what I am presently running (Goodyear Assurance Comfort Treads on the 15" stock Outback wheels).

In the last 6 months, (once before and once after installing struts/sway bar), I have come close to losing control of the car in trying to avoid an animal that was crossing the road late at night, while I was traveling at 60 mph. Are a 16" or 17" wheels with a good tires going to improve the handling significally, in situations where one has to make a sudden turn?

What are some tires that have a good reputation amongst Subaru owners? As far as wheels, I would like to get either the WRX wheels or the Forester rounded spoke wheels. Would either of these wheels be a good set up for my Outback?

Thanks for any insights.

Len

#2 AFviper

AFviper

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 39 posts
  • Lynnwood, WA

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:41 AM

24mm? that seems really aggressive, doesn't that give you a lot of oversteer? As for the wheel sizes, larger wheels, more spesifically smaller profile tires should help the car feel a little sharper, and a little quicker on the turn in. The model of the tires will probobly effect the performance more than the size. If you go for a touring tire even in a low profile it will still feel squishy and slow on the turn in; but high performance summer tires will have a stiff sidewall, and will feel a lot different.

#3 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:53 AM

I don't understand oversteer/understeer.

All I know is that I like the stiffer feel the sway bar (set at 24mm) gives me in normal driving. But, when I swerved to avoid the animal crossing the road, the sway bar setting must have contributed to my loss of control of the car, I swerved hard to the right, and then to correct, steered hard to the left, and served back and forth a couple of more times before I was able to get the car under control. Thankfully, there was no one approaching in the oncoming lane.....

Should I go back to the 20mm I origianlly had it set at?

Len

#4 jamal

jamal

    1000+ Super USER!

  • Members
  • 1,015 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 23 September 2005 - 03:59 AM

Woah, I'd read up a bit more on suspension setups and how they affect handling. And yes, better tires with a shorter sidewall will make a drastic difference in the car's handling. I went from 14" steelies to 16" WRX wheels and the difference was huge.

Oversteer is when the rear of the car starts to slide first. By throwing on a big rear swaybar, you sort of stiffen up the rear suspension and effectively reduce the rear grip. By reducing the rear grip, you make the front wheels less likely to begin sliding first (understeer). So, say you coast through a sharp corner without a rear swaybar. Chances are, when the car starts to slide, the fronts will plow forward. Throw on a huge rear swaybar, and the rear might start to slide first.

People have the tendancy to put huge rear bars on front- and all-wheel drive cars, because basically, they will never oversteer under power. The only time power oversteer occurs is in a RWD car. Or when it's slippery with AWD, sometimes.

Currently, I have an 18mm front and 18mm rear swaybar on my Legacy, and a little less negative camber than I'd like in the rear. The nice thing is that I can really get on it exiting a corner without getting a lot of understeer. The bad thing is that if I coast into a corner, or brake late into a corner, the rear is much more willing to step out.

This causes another problem for many drivers. Instinct tends to be to slow down when the car starts to slide. If I brake into a corner and the rear comes out, the only way to recover is to get on the gas, something that tends to be a little counter-intuitive. Lifting, or hitting the brakes, will usually spin the car.

A few weeks ago I was on a drive and came into a sharp corner a little fast because I could see that I had tons of space and there were no other cars around. The back stepped out, and I took my time correcting to have a little fun. I actually had to go to full opposite lock (quickly) and stomp the throttle to stop the car from spinning.

p.s. don't mess around on public roads.

Here is a good GRM article on swaybars.

#5 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 20,093 posts
  • WV

Posted 23 September 2005 - 05:34 AM

the bottom line is that you want a lower profile tire no matter what wheels you use---13" or 17". the tires roll on cornering because they are rubber, wheels do not. larger wheels do nothing for handling performance. if you wanted to get technical about details that don't matter, larger is worse because they increase your overall center of gravity/ground clearance (everything else being equal - like tire profile). but that's negligible so it really doesn't matter. larger tires tyipcally incorporate low profile tires and that's where you have your handling gains. if you're strictly looking for handling performance then lower profile tires are what you're after. be cautious about high performance though, you don't want to go overboard as you probably still want to maintain wet weather traction as well. steering out of the way of something on wet roads with tires that aren't made for them isn't fun either.

if you want the wheels for the looks then go with them. the WRX wheels are really nice looking and will look great on your outback. tires will be more expensive if you care about that. another positive for getting larger wheels is that you can try to match the overall diameter of your stock wheel/tire combo so your speedometer is accurate. there are tire size calculators all over the internet, punch in your old wheel/tire size and the new wheel/tire size and it will tell you how close they are and you can figure out what low profile tire will give you the closest overall diameter to your originals so your speedo is correct. it shouldn't vary by more than 3-5% with minor changes anyway so it's not something to loose sleep over. but if you keep the 15" wheels and get lower profile tires you'll loose a little overall diameter than you can make up with the 16".

#6 Dickensheets

Dickensheets

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 444 posts
  • LOVELAND

Posted 23 September 2005 - 05:51 AM

I don't mean to hijack here - but never ever swerve to avoid an animal in the road at highway speed. Nail that sucker head on. I've known lots of people who been seriously injured or killed from losing control. If you must, jam on the Brembos but let off at the last instant to lift the front of the car.

Ryan

#7 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 08:14 AM

I really appreciate the insights that have been offered.

I have been under the impression that if I was going to go to a lower profile tire (50,55 or 60 series tire), that I needed to go to a larger wheel to maintain averall tire/wheel diameter.

The stock wheel on the 1996 Subaru (205/70/15) has an overall diameter of 26.29" The sidewall height is 5.64". The calculator I am using goes like this: The width of the tire (205) divided by 25.4 (to convert from metric to inches) multiplied by the percentage of the tire width to tire height (70), multipled by 2, plus wheel diameter (15").

If I want to get out cheaply here (just purchase tires), I can go to a 205/60/15, then I am at an overall wheel/tire diameter of 24.68." The side wall height is 4.84."

I thought the whole idea was to lower sidewall profile while maintaining the overall tire/wheel diameter that came stock on the car (26.29", or as close to that as posible). If I were to go to a 215/60/16, it only gives me reduction in the sidewall height of .54", but keeps me at an overall tire/wheel sidewall height of 26.1". Is this reduction in sidewall height enough to get the significant handling improvement I am after? My instincts say No. What say you guys?

If I want to stay close to the original tire/wheel diameter and drop an inch or so off the sidewall height, I have to go to a 17" wheel in a 55 series....and pay much more for the tires, which I am not willing to do (I am looking for a tire in the $80 - $100 range).

In order to get the one inch reduction in the sidewall in a 16" wheel, I would need to go to a 215/55/16. Then my sidewall height would be 4.65" but my wheel diameter has been reduce to 25.3" (a 1" reduction in overall diameter). Is reducing the wheel diameter by an inch or more introducing another set of problems? Or is this sort of reduction in wheel diameter only going to affect the appearance (a smaller tire/wheel showing a bigger gap in the wheelwell, and just not very sexy). If I went with a 205/55/15, I would get a 1.2" reduction in sidewall, but the tire/wheel diameter would also be reduced from the stock 26.29" to 23.89"!

Anyway enough math. How much of a sidewall height reduction (over the stock tires/wheels) do I want in order to get the a significant improvement in handling? Is it important to stay close to the stock overall diameter while seeking the sidewall height reduction?

Since 17" wheel tire set ups are quite an expensive upgrade, I am looking at 215/55/16: I get a 1" reduction in the sidewall, but I lose 1" in overall tire/wheel diameter. Is this diameter reduction anything to worry about?

If I end up going with a set of 16" wheels, does anyone know where I can get a set of WRX wheels, or Forester wheels (aluminum alloy, rounded spoke style).

Thanks for further insights into this issue.

Len

#8 outback_97

outback_97

    Eat, Live, Breathe Subaru

  • Members
  • 655 posts
  • SLC, UT

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:09 PM

I'll add something to the good advice you've already gotten: maybe you should consider better lighting. The stock headlights on my 97 OB suck, to put it not so eloquently. If I drove where there were a lot of animals on the road I'd absolutely improve the forward lighting of my car. I don't know if your 96 has the same headlights as mine, but if they do and you've driven other cars at night you know the headlights are poor compared to many cars.

WRX wheels: you can find them on www.nasioc.com, look in the for sale section or the region closest to you. I got a set for $250 with almost new tires, this was not for my OB but for the wife's TS, although IMO they look pretty good on OB's.

Steve

#9 mwatt

mwatt

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 380 posts
  • Rockville

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:22 PM

I have a 1996 Outback with stock 15" wheels. I have recently replaced the struts, with KYBs and intalled an IPD Sway Bar and set at it 24mm setting (it can be set at 20mm, 22mm or 24mm).

In considering a wheel/tire upgrade, I am after better handling. I have been told that a wheel/tire upgrade, to 16" or 17" wheels, coupled with a more performance oriented tire will be dramatic improvement over what I am presently running (Goodyear Assurance Comfort Treads on the 15" stock Outback wheels).

In the last 6 months, (once before and once after installing struts/sway bar), I have come close to losing control of the car in trying to avoid an animal that was crossing the road late at night, while I was traveling at 60 mph. Are a 16" or 17" wheels with a good tires going to improve the handling significally, in situations where one has to make a sudden turn?

What are some tires that have a good reputation amongst Subaru owners? As far as wheels, I would like to get either the WRX wheels or the Forester rounded spoke wheels. Would either of these wheels be a good set up for my Outback?

Thanks for any insights.

Len


One more thing you might consider before moving to larger diameter wheels: the ECM is programmed for 15 inch wheels. What will happen when the ECM "sees" a different number of wheel rotations per mile? And then there's the speedometer.......it won't read correctly, either.

#10 outback_97

outback_97

    Eat, Live, Breathe Subaru

  • Members
  • 655 posts
  • SLC, UT

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:41 PM

mwatt:

If one compensates for the increased wheel diameter by going with a shorter sidewall tire (thus keeping the rolling tire circumference constant) then the computer won't see the difference, correct? It's true that changing the diameter of the tire will throw off odo, speedo, gearing, etc. but changing the *wheel* size doesn't necessarily do any of this if the right tire size is selected. Just trying to clarify.

Len:

Better make sure that wider tires will fit, the WRX wheels will have a narrower track due to their offset and you could start rubbing on the struts if you go too wide. FWIW, I've done the opposite of what you're doing, I have a 205/ 75 /15 A/T tire for more sidewall height plus more tread, and there's not much room for a wider tire on my car.

Steve

#11 blitz

blitz

    Banned

  • Banned
  • 1,091 posts
  • Warren, Michigan

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:42 PM

I don't understand oversteer/understeer.

In NACSAR, it's described thusly (in the turns):
Understeer is when the front of your car hits the wall.
Oversteer is when the back of you car hits the wall.
:-\ :D

Should I go back to the 20mm I origianlly had it set at?

Always start at the lowest setting and get familiar with you car's emergency handling in high-speed sweepers before deciding to go to a higher setting. Accelerate through an on ramp or off ramp until you're at the limit of adhesion, then gently ease up on the gas. The rear of the car will try to swap ends with the front (so be prepared to re-apply throttle). A stiff rear bar can feel good in low-speed corners because it'll reduce the tendency for the front to plow, but things are different at high speeds - especially in the wet. Be careful.

#12 mwatt

mwatt

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 380 posts
  • Rockville

Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:18 PM

mwatt:

If one compensates for the increased wheel diameter by going with a shorter sidewall tire (thus keeping the rolling tire circumference constant) then the computer won't see the difference, correct? It's true that changing the diameter of the tire will throw off odo, speedo, gearing, etc. but changing the *wheel* size doesn't necessarily do any of this if the right tire size is selected. Just trying to clarify.

Len:

Better make sure that wider tires will fit, the WRX wheels will have a narrower track due to their offset and you could start rubbing on the struts if you go too wide. FWIW, I've done the opposite of what you're doing, I have a 205/ 75 /15 A/T tire for more sidewall height plus more tread, and there's not much room for a wider tire on my car.

Steve


OK, I'll buy that. Now that you mention it, this makes sense because we have the 15 inch wheels on our 98 Outback and the 16 inch wheels (with lower profile tires) on the '99 Legacy GT and the tachometer on both vehicles reads about the same at 70 mph.

#13 nipper

nipper

    Semi Elite Master of the

  • Members
  • 17,637 posts
  • Long Island NY

Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:27 PM

As long as the cricurmfance stays the same it doesnt matter. What i've been seeing lately in tire specs, espeically tires with extreem sidewalls, is a new refernce number, I think its rotations per mile. Its not hard to calculate that for the stock tire. As long as you saty close to that number you should be ok


Joe

#14 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:33 PM

Thank you all once again. Your input is really helpful.

Len

#15 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:49 PM

In NACSAR, it's described thusly (in the turns):
Understeer is when the front of your car hits the wall.
Oversteer is when the back of you car hits the wall.
:-\ :D


Always start at the lowest setting and get familiar with you car's emergency handling in high-speed sweepers before deciding to go to a higher setting. Accelerate through an on ramp or off ramp until you're at the limit of adhesion, then gently ease up on the gas. The rear of the car will try to swap ends with the front (so be prepared to re-apply throttle). A stiff rear bar can feel good in low-speed corners because it'll reduce the tendency for the front to plow, but things are different at high speeds - especially in the wet. Be careful.


I don't think I will ever be pushing the car hard it enough (at least intentionally) to experience the rear of the car trading places with the front in an on/off ramp, where I have to correct it by accelerating! That is counterintuitve to me; I know my instincts would prompt me to do exactly the opposite. I know you are right, it is just my not trusting that I would do that when the time comes. I will leave those track manuvers to you more soffisticated drivers. I will reduce the stiffness of the sway bar back to 20mm.

Regarding 16" WRX wheels: there seems to be some disagreement about whether a set of 215/60/16s will work on an Outback in that the wheels might rub the struts. Anyone know for sure? Anyone done the sort of "upgrade" (if it is one) that I am contemlating?

Len

#16 nipper

nipper

    Semi Elite Master of the

  • Members
  • 17,637 posts
  • Long Island NY

Posted 23 September 2005 - 02:03 PM

You may never do it intintionally, but when the women talking on her cell phone in her Expidition doesnt see you and changes lanes into yours, its really GOOD to know what your car is going to do and how to counter its reactions.
Its always very interesting to feel the AWD kick in on dry pavement at 70mph when that happens....


Joe

#17 Tiny Clark

Tiny Clark

    Certified Subaru Nut

  • Members
  • 807 posts
  • Germany

Posted 23 September 2005 - 02:04 PM

Just remember that if you have 225/40-19's instead of 195/65/15's that when you have a blow-out, the volume of air in the 19"tire will be gone in a micro-give-me-crap. That, and the tires in ever expanding rim sizes are more expensive.

Will the handling be better? Of course!! Ideally, a half inch of silicone on a flat 22" rim would offer great traction, but you'd feel every earthworm and dime you ran over!!!!

#18 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 02:13 PM

I love these responses you guys are coming up with. Informative and amuzing at the same time.

Interesting that you should mention a woman in her SUV talking on her cell phone and totally oblivious..... I recently had that experience as well. We would have had head on if I had not gotten off the road. She saw me at the last moment, and corrected. She was driving one of those generic white monsters and I had no way of knowing who it was (I live in a small community,, and there are a number of those white beast so I do not know who to glare ar the next time I see them...).

Len

#19 outback_97

outback_97

    Eat, Live, Breathe Subaru

  • Members
  • 655 posts
  • SLC, UT

Posted 23 September 2005 - 02:24 PM

Regarding 16" WRX wheels: there seems to be some disagreement about whether a set of 215/60/16s will work on an Outback in that the wheels might rub the struts. Anyone know for sure? Anyone done the sort of "upgrade" (if it is one) that I am contemlating?

Len


Len:

You might ask the poster of this thread, he's got WRX wheels and tires on a 96 Outback:

http://www.ultimates...ight=wrx wheels

You might already be using this page for your calculations but if not it's a very handy tire calculator:
http://www.miata.net...irecalcold.html

Steve

#20 Strakes

Strakes

    Kaboom? Kaboom?

  • Members
  • 520 posts
  • Knoxville

Posted 23 September 2005 - 04:35 PM

If you call up ipd and ask, they'll tell you exactly what each mm setting on your bar will handle like. I know from my own bar that the lowest setting has very slight understeer and the middle is completely neutral and the top is slight oversteer. They told me this when I bought the bar. After having some fun in a very large, completely empty, apparently abandoned, wet parking lot, I verified that their conclusions were correct. The funny thing was a "security" guard comes out of this abandoned Kmart/Kroger (or whatever it used to be) after I had done about a half hour of donuts to tell me that I had to leave cause I could run into somebody. Anyways, I have mine set on the neutral setting. You're right about it being counter intuitive to add gas when the back end comes around.

#21 Len

Len

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Bath, North Carolina

Posted 23 September 2005 - 04:50 PM

Yes, good idea. I have already experince 20mm and 24mm. If IPD says 22mm that is good enough for me.

Len




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users