Vanagon Rim Upgrade Tips and Review
There are many different brands, sizes, styles, material, and so on when it comes to a Vanagon rim upgrade. The Volkswagen Vanagon can be a little more difficult when it comes to fitting other rims and can take having to make or buy spacers and adaptors to get them to fit properly. We went with ’98-’99 Mercedes CLK320 rims for a few different reasons. They are made of light aluminum weighing approx 13 pounds a piece but very strong because of the forging process used in their construction. They look rugged with some all terrain tires on them especially after popping off the stupid Mercedes center cap! They don’t need any spacers or adapters at all, nothing. They are the perfect Vanagon rim upgrade in my opinion. Just drill out the lug holes with a standard drill and a 37/64″ metal drill bit. Try to keep it as straight as possible when drilling down through though and I’m sure they’ll turn out just fine. Pop them on and crank down the stock small ball seat lug bolts and nuts tightly. Some say to change them out, we didn’t but we made sure to recheck the torque frequently from time to time initially until they grooved nicely into the rims. Throw on a coat of black rhinoliner and your stylin!
Vanagon Rim Upgrade Specifics
Our Mercedes rims are 16×7 which is going to benefit you in a few ways. Being 7″ wide your tire track is going to be wider which will give you more tread on the road which means more traction and better handling. More tread on the road means you can handle more push around corners, more breaking force, and more accelerating force before they will break loose from the pavement and skid or spin. You can fit on a much wider tire on these rims, it’s just a matter of how much modifications you want to do in order for these wider tires to fit in the wheel wells. We went with an all terrain 215/65/16 because no modifications would be needed, anything else wider or taller and you’ll be in the grey zone and some kind of modification to the wheel wells or other may be needed. These are definitely a good choice to consider for your Vanagon rim upgrade.
Vanagon Gearing and handling changes explained
The benefits of the 16″ tallness of these rims will help the overall diameter of the wheel so it will essentially, unless your installing low profile tires, will give your gearing a bump up which means if you were running 3500 RPMs on the highway before the upgrade now you will probably be down to around 3000 RPMs depending on how tall you went with your tire. Tall tires are good and bad. They are good when your offroading because they can suck up a lot of the impact of rocks and bumps, makes your overall vehicle clearance taller so you can drive over larger stuff or deeper ruts without bottoming out and like I mentioned it bumps up your gearing. A higher gearing isn’t always better though it just depends on what kind of driving you do most. If your traveling down highways mostly then it’s a definite benefit cause lower RPMs means better gas mileage! BUT if your crawling around the desert in first and second gear going through technical or rough inclines then that bumping up of the gearing could ruin your performance in that kind of terrain driving. Something to consider when planning your Vanagon rim upgrade on your vehicle. Taller tires also have taller sidewalls which means there is more possibility of flex when put under pressure especially on fast sharp turns on pavement.
Also another benefit of the 16″ rim is you can have the same diameter wheel but with a shorter sidewall tire because of the 2″ taller rim then the stock 14 inch so less tire flex. There will definitely be some flex and handling differences that come with each tire so be very mindful when deciding on your tire size because they have a big affect on a lot of things but for certain one tire size can’t give you optimum performance for all situations. I would say pick the size that will benefit you most for the kind of driving you do most and you should be happy.