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All About Wheels for Rear Wheel Drive Volvo Models

Sunday, January 13, 2013 - ipd staff

Wheel and tire sizes can be confusing no matter who you are! In this video Cameron discusses the major specifications and terms used for wheels and tires and how they all work together.


One of the most popular upgrade made to any car is adding a custom wheel and tire package. Typically the desire is to increase the wheel size for better looks and handling. Here, Ken and Cameron discuss the major considerations and factors that should be taken into account when making this upgrade to your Volvo



Rear wheel drive Volvo models use a somewhat unique wheel offset. Because of this it can be tough to find many aftermarket wheel options to spruce up your Volvo. Enter H&R Trax wheel spacers! In this video Cameron explains and demonstrates how you can install 25mm wheel spacers to your Volvo to change the effective offset and open the door to a wider selection of aftermarket wheels.


Cameron from ipd goes the process of removing and installing a Volvo wheel and points out some important things to consider.


Wheel and Tire Fitment Guide

Next to "Why won't my Volvo start?" the most popular question we get at ipd is "What size tires and wheels should I put on My Volvo?" This can be a tough question to answer, as there are so many variables to consider. Budget, local weather and geographical considerations, driving style, ride quality, road noise, and tire life all factor in to choosing tires. Add the subjective wheel styles to the picture and you can see how the process can become very time consuming. Ultimately it's a choice that only you can make once you have gathered enough information.

Understanding Tire Dimensions

Example: The tire size 185-70-14

185

70

14

tread width

aspect ratio

rim diameter

The first number (185) is the width of the tire in millimeters, measured from sidewall to sidewall. This dimension is also called the section width. In the example above, the width is 185mm or 7.28". The second number (70) is the aspect ratio. This is a ratio of sidewall height to width. The aspect ratio is also sometimes called the "series". In the example above, the tire is 7.28" wide. Multiply that by the aspect ratio to find the height of one sidewall. In this case, 185 x 0.70=129.5 mm or 7.28" x 0.70=5.096". The last number is the diameter of the wheel in inches.

To calculate the outside diameter of a tire, take the sidewall height and multiply by 2 (remember that the diameter is made up of 2 side walls), then add the diameter of the wheel to get your answer. So, for the tire in our example:

185mm x .70 =129.5 mm x 2=259.mm + 355.6mm(14")= 614.6 mm or 24.197." 

The Plus Concept

All the combinations in the above example are the same height as the plus sizing concept allows you to run larger wheels while retaining the correct tire diameter which is important for gearing and speedometer accuracy.

Plus sizing your wheels and tires is a popular way to improve both the performance and appearance of your vehicle. By using a larger diameter wheel with a lower profile tire it's possible to properly maintain the overall diameter of the tire, keeping odometer and speedometer changes negligible. By using a tire with a shorter sidewall, you gain quickness in steering response and better lateral stability. The visual appeal is obvious, as most wheels look better than the sidewall of the tire, so the more wheel and less sidewall there is, the better it looks.

The drawback with plus sizing is a significant loss of ride quality and less rubber to protect the wheel from road hazards once you get into the 17" and 18" sizes. Volvo has used "Plus Sizing" on its performance models over the years. For example, the 240 Turbo came with 195-60-15s while the standard 240 had 185-70-14s, and the more recent "R" models usually come with 17" or even optional 18" wheel and tire packages compared to the base model's 15" wheels and tires.

Wheel Terminology and Specs

Bolt Pattern or Bolt Circle.
The bolt pattern or bolt circle is the diameter of an imaginary circle formed by the centers of the wheel lugs. Most Volvos* use a bolt pattern of 5 on 4.25" (108mm). This indicates a 5-lug pattern on a 4.25" circle, which is pretty much unique to Volvo. A few other cars use this bolt pattern, such as Ferraris and some Fords, but in most cases the offset is different enough to prevent the use of any wheels not built specifically for use on a Volvo.

*Exceptions: 122 & 1800 models up to 1969 use a bolt pattern of 5-on 4.5

 Wheel Offset

The offset of a wheel is the distance from its hub-mounting surface to the centerline of the wheel. If the offset of the wheel is not correct for the car, the handling can be adversely affected and in most cases will cause severe rubbing. The offset will be one of three types. Since the sixties Volvo has pretty much stuck with positive offset wheel designs.

 Zero Offset

The hub-mounting surface is even with the centerline of the wheel.

 Positive Offset

The hub-mounting surface is toward the front or road/outside side of the wheel. Positive offset wheels are generally found on front wheel drive cars and newer rear drive cars. (And all Volvos!)

 

Negative Offset
The hub mounting surface is toward the back or brake side of the wheel centerline. Deep dish wheels are typically a negative offset.

 Popular Volvo Wheel Offsets* & Hub bores

*(Offset is also commonly referred to as "ET" and is often stamped into the backside of wheels)

 122/1800 +33 to 37mm offset

140/160 +20 to 35 mm offset

240/260 + 20mm offset

700/900* + 25mm offset

 Generally speaking you can deviate a few mmÍs from the offsets listed, but it is best to test fit at all 4 corners of the car with a tire mounted to be sure. We always do our best to provide accurate information in regards to the proper applications of the wheels we sell (models they can be installed on).

 What to Do?

Most enthusiasts want to know how large they can go. We have some general sizes that we recommend, but keep in mind that wheel offset, worn bushings and even differences in tire manufacturers could lead to interference problems.

Popular Upgraded Tire sizes for Volvo Models

For 122,1800, 140 and 160 models a section width of 215 is the maximum. 195-60-15 and 215-50-15 are popular upgrades.

 240, 260, 700 & 900 series can accept up to a 225 section width, 195-60-15 all the way up to 225-45-17s are common upgrades.

 CAUTION! Keep in mind that most tire upgrades will require that you upgrade your wheels to the proper width and offset to accommodate wider tires. If you are going to deviate from the stock tire diameter used on your Volvo, you may want to calculate speedometer error and the effect on gearing that can occur when making a significant change. Lastly, donÍt overlook the basics like the manufacturers recommended rim width, load rating and inflation guidelines.

 Test fit wheels before mounting tires!

Step 1: Test fit each wheel to ensure it has the correct bolt pattern and does not come into contact with any parts in the front or rear positions. Check for proper fit as described below.

Refer to your vehicle ownerÍs manual for safe wheel installation guidelines.

Step 2: When removing lug nuts or bolts, never use powered impact wrenches of any type. It's best to carefully remove lugs with a four-way wrench or a socket on a breaker bar. An impact wrench may damage the lugs.

ATTENTION: Check the condition of the vehicle's lug nuts / lug bolts. If you feel any resistance or see any damaged threads, replace the fasteners before reinstalling the wheels. We have lug nuts and bolts available for most models. Wheels must fit flat against the vehicle's hubs. Please note that most Volvo models will have a wheel alignment pin or 10mm bolt that is used to hold the brake rotor in position until the wheel is installed. Be sure that the pin or bolt does not interfere with the seating of the wheel. If it does, remove the alignment pin and or 10 mm rotor retaining bolt, they are for convenience and serve no load bearing function.

Step 3: Check the fit of the wheel onto the hub of the vehicle. The bolt circle of the wheel must match that of your vehicle and the wheel must make full contact to the mating surface of the hub. If the wheel does not match up to the bolt circle of the vehicle, or the wheel does not have full contact to the mounting surface, please contact ipd customer service department at 800-444-6473.

Step 4: If you are not re-using the original lug bolts / lug nuts, verify that you have the correct lugnuts or bolt thread sizes by first installing the lug nuts or bolts without the wheel.

Step 5: For the next inspections it will be necessary to temporarily install the wheel by snugging down the lug nuts or bolts in order to verify disc brake caliper clearance. Start threading the lugs with your fingers and pay attention to the clearance while you tighten them until they are "finger tight." Generally we do not sell wheels for applications that would require spacers, unless we clearly note it in the product description. If you encounter a brake caliper clearance issue, spacers are availabe, but will often require longer fasteners. Please contact our customer service department at 800-444-6473 for more information.

NOTE: Since the hub mounting thickness of an alloy wheel can differ from Original Equipment wheels, verify that the wheel studs or bolts are long enough to engage the threads. Refer to the chart (on right) to determine the number of turns for proper lug bolt / lug nut engagement.

Model

Size of
bolt or nut

Number of turns

740, 760, 940, 960 all

12x1.25mm

8

544, 122, 1800, 140 , 160, 240, 260 all

1/2"

8

Step 6: Place your Volvos transmission in neutral and turn each wheel by hand while making certain that the outer edge of the disc brake caliper doesn't touch the inside of the rim or that the side of the caliper doesn't come into contact with the backside of the wheel or the wheel balancing weights.

If you have any concerns...CALL US! We are happy to help!

Step 7: Wheel Lug Nut Torquing
Proper installation requires that the wheels be torqued to the recommended specification for your vehicle. Torque specifications can be found in your Volvos owners manual. Finish tightening the lugs with a torque wrench . Use a crisscross sequence (star pattern) until they have reached their proper torque value. Be careful because if you over torque a wheel, you can strip a lug nut, stretch or break a wheel stud, and cause the wheel and or brake rotor to distort.

While new wheel installation isn't difficult it's no harder than changing a flat tire it's imperative that you take the necessary safety precautions.

NOTE: When installing new wheels you should re-torque them after a short low speed trip around the blcok and then again after the first 50 to 100 miles to account for any mis alignment or seating in that can allow fasteners to loosen up some. Simply repeat the same torque procedure listed above.

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