For What Its Worth

Wheels & Tires

One of the most often asked questions about the 62-67 Chevy II is "What Tires Fit?"  Since these cars were designed to be econo boxes with skinny tires that becomes an intersting question for many people.   Getting bigger tires and wheels to fit and run smooth on the stock style front and rear can be a major ordeal.

Since I put front disc brakes on my car it changed the width of the mounting hubs about 1/2" up front.    Not much but enough to make the 205 wide tires rub the fender a little up front.  Chevy II Only sells a Fender Spacer that is used on the lower, front fender mount to push the bottom of the fender out about 1 1/2" to give a little more clearance.   Whether you need them or not depends a lot on your front end alignment and tire size.  Not usually needed if you have an aftermarket clip or some major front end modifications.

Disc brakes usually requires a minimum 15" rim to clear the disc brakes, you need to test any 14" rim on the car with disc brakes.   A deep offset 14" usually wont clear.

Tires and wheels I have had on my car.

Rear 235 60 15 , 7" wide rims with 4.5" backspace.   Barely fit.  There is a horizontal lip where they weld the sheet metal together on the inside of the wheel well lip.   If you have a good body shop they may be able to grind it down and weld it flat for a little more clearance, but it wont be cheap.

Rear 225 60 15 on 6" rims with 4" backspce, good clearance.   Also  good clearance on 5.5" rims with 3.5" backspace (Stock style rims)

Front 205 60 15 on 7" wide rims with 4.5" backspace.   With manual steering these make the steering wheel hard to turn at 0-5mph

Front 185 65 15 on 6" rims with 4" backspace.  Also on 5.5" rims with 3.5" backspace (Stock style rims)

What does it take to get a nice smooth ride out of your tires and rims.   Patience, check, recheck and more checking.   Then also know what you are getting into. 

I also found balancing beads didn't work on my car. To make a long story short they had no effect good or bad on this car.    Once you add beads, they can no longer balance your tires on a balancing machine.  The beads confuse the machine.  The beads have been removed. 

Next you need to understand Hub Centric vs. Lug Centric.  Hub centric is what most of the stock style rims are.   The hub in the center of the wheel fits snuggly on the front hubs or the flange on the rear axels.  This keeps the wheels running true.   When  firmly centered on the hub or rear flange, the center of the wheel takes most of the stress of every day driving not the lug nuts.

Most after market wheels are "lug centric" they center on the lug nut pattern.  Usually on these wheels the hole in the center of the wheel is too big and will not mount on the hub.  They want them to fit as many cars as possible.   Add to this that virtually every wheel balancing machine centers on the hole in the middle of the wheel.   So for your wheels to run true, the lug pattern MUST be true to the hole in the wheel and they should all be true to the tire mounting surface.  How do you check it?   With a machine that can spin the tire on the car.   Only a few shops have such a machine today, even though most any place that claims to do suspension or front end work should have one.

What can you do to get wheels that aren't hub centric to be hub centric?   Adapter rings are needed.  Rings that precisely take up the gap between the hub and hole in the wheel.  For most this fixes problems they have with the tire running true.  This works only if the wheel manufacturer guarantees the hole in the center of the wheel is "true" to the rim.  Sadly in most cases these adapter rings will be special order or custom made since they don't usually stock the size that fits most after market wheels and these Chevy II hubs. Nova, Camaro and many others had the same size hubs.

Logic says all wheels should have the center hole, lug pattern and rim run true, but I got a set with a note that said they were lug centric.  It also stated they need to be balanced by a system that mounted on the lugs.  Such a system I never found anywhere in the Dallas area.   They could only do it for the big truck wheels.   Only the old guys remembered some old machines long gone that could do it for the smaller wheels used on cars.  This note also implied they didn't guarantee the rim to be in align with the center hole.   In my opinion, you should return any rim with this kind of note.

My limited experience with 2 sets of after market, lug centric wheels in the past 7 years has not been good.  If using after market non-hub centric wheels, I would advise getting the hub rings to match your wheels and hubs.      

In the end I switched to some stock, hub centric rims. 15 x 5.5.   This was the fundamental fix for vibration problems, but it took a while to track it down.   There is a reason car manufacturers go to the extra work to have their wheels hub centric. 

Be careful who you take your car to.  And double check their work.   While diagnosing the vibration problem with a new set of wheels and tires this is what I ran into. 

  1. Bought wheels from major supplier. Tires from a national chain.  There was vibration at freeway speeds.  

  2. Went to 3 places that mount and balance tires trying to figure out the vibration    All of them claimed to have found a tire not balanced correctly.   None of the re-balancing corrected the problem.

  3. Went to 2 places that were widely recognized front end experts by hot rodders and mechanics.   One finally did what I asked and used a machine to run the front tires up to speed while on the car.   It showed neither front wheel ran true and both vibrated noticeably above 55.    Was it the rims or maybe the disc brake hubs?   We put on the spare that had a stock hub centric wheel.   It ran to 100 mph without any vibration.  Conclusion, these after market ralley wheels would not run true on my car.

  4. 2 places cross threaded a lug nut.  All lug nuts were new a week before. Standard lug nuts.

  5. 1 place got messed up and put my 225/15 tires on the front and the 185/15 tires on the rear. This caused the front tires to rub the fenders in a turn.  Even with the fender spacers on the car.

  6. Last place that switched me over to the stock style rims over torqued and under torqued the lug nuts using an impact only to tighten the tires. I have reset them all to proper torque specs.

  7. Lastly, one new tire had tread that didn't run true form side to side by about .5-75". It is now the spare.

If you don't have patience and tenacity, don't even think of getting into the car hobby.   When you find someone that does the job well, stick with them. 

Happy Motoring, VHubbard.  May 2014

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