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Old 11-08-2003, 02:50 PM   #1
Unabomber
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Exclamation Wheel FAQ: Read if you are thinking of buying some!

Wheel FAQ

The primary purposes of aftermarket wheels are aesthetic appeal, the potential reduction of weight by their reduced rotational mass, and the ability to accommodate wider tires.

Which manufacturer is best? This topic is highly debated. There are just too many factors to consider. The main category breakdowns are:
a. Price
b. Looks
c. Wheel weight savings over current wheel weight.

What wheel material is best? Most wheel manufacturers use various proprietary alloy compositions. There is no irrefutable evidence that one alloy is better than the other.

Which wheel construction method is best?
There is no irrefutable evidence that one design is better than the other. This website has an excellent description of the different wheel construction methods.

What is wheel offset? The offset of a wheel is the distance from its hub mounting surface to the centerline of the wheel.

Why is wheel offset important? Wheels using improper offsets can cause damage or accelerated wear on suspension components or body panels. Correct Impreza wheel offsets are:
Width ........ Offset

6.5" ....... +53 to +55
7.0" ....... +50 to +53
7.5" ....... +47 to +50
8.0" ....... +43 to +47

If your wheel width and offset is within this chart or close (+/- 2mm), your wheels have the proper offset.

Just because it fits does not mean it is right

Are there any downsides to wheels? There have not been significant amounts of problems with wheels. Heavier weight wheels, through rotation mass can multiply their weight which will result in decreased performance. For example, an additional 5 lbs per corner of wheel weight (20 lbs total) has an equivalent effect on acceleration of 50-80lbs of weight in the car. Also, as you increase wheel size, realize that you are increasing the wheel's distance from the center of rotation. Due to wheels having rotational mass, larger wheels have a larger rotational mass. For example, spinning a 1lb weight 8 inches from the center of a wheel requires less work than spinning that same weight 9 inches from the center. Unsprung weight: "Unsprung weight is the total weight of components not supported by the springs. This includes control arms, brake components, spindles, wheels and tires. Reducing unsprung weight is a key factor to improving a vehicle's handling." Among other things, it allows the suspension to react faster and improves the tires' contact with the road, producing more grip on rougher road surfaces. The easiest way to reduce unsprung weight without otherwise compromising performance is to reduce the combined wheel/tire weight. As a benchmark 205/55R16 T1S (a fairly light tire) are 21.2 lbs (RE92s are similar), and stock WRX alloy rims are 16.5 lbs, for a total of ~38 lbs/corner. See this webpage for more details on unsprung weight.

How can I be sure my new wheels will fit? You have a few options to ensure proper fitment prior to purchasing. Ask the wheel retailer and ensure you are aware of their return policies. Ask fellow Subaru owners via the Tire & Wheel Forum. Get a general idea via the calculator found on this website.

Will I need new lug nuts? This is a question to ask the retailer. It can also be an additional expense to keep in mind during the time of purchase. There are three different types of lug nuts with the main difference being the seating surface shape of the lug nut to the wheel. Remember: always keep a set of OEM lug nuts around for use with the spare, if using another type of lug nut.

What about my OEM wheels? Subaru's OEM offering is a surprisingly good wheel.

2002-2005 Stock WRX wheels are 16 x 6.5 with a +53mm offset and weigh 16.5 pounds. Lug Pattern: 5 x 100, Lug Thread: 12 x 1.25, Lug Torque: 65 ft/lbs, Lug Nut size is 19MM.

2006-2007 Stock WRX wheels are 17 x 7 with a +55mm offset and weigh 23.5 pounds. Lug Pattern: 5 x 100, Lug Thread: 12 x 1.25, Lug Torque: 65 ft/lbs, Lug Nut size is 19MM.

2008 Stock WRX wheels are 17 x 7 with a +55mm offset and weigh 23 pounds. Lug Pattern: 5 x 100, Lug Thread: 12 x 1.25, Lug Torque: 65 ft/lbs, Lug Nut size is 19MM.

2004 STI wheels are 17 x 7.5 with a +53mm offset and weigh 16.5 pounds. Lug Pattern: 5 x 100, Lug Thread: 12 x 1.25, Lug Torque: 65 ft/lbs, Lug Nut size is 19MM.

2005-2007 STI wheels are 17 x 8 with a +53mm offset and weigh 19.2 pounds. Lug Pattern: 5 x 114.3, Lug Thread: 12 x 1.25, Lug Torque: 65 ft/lbs, Lug Nut size is 19MM.

2008 STI wheels are 18 x 8.5 with a +55mm offset and weigh 28 pounds. Lug Pattern: 5 x 114.3, Lug Thread: 12 x 1.25, Lug Torque: 65 ft/lbs, Lug Nut size is 19MM.

When removing/installing OEM lug nuts, a deep well 19mm socket provides the best response, though a 3/4" socket may be used as a suitable substitute. A 3" extension will also provide additional clearance when removing/installing lug nuts. Appearance aside, the OEM wheels are strong and light with an excellent protective finish. OEM tires are Bridgestone Potenza RE92 205/55/16.

Where do I buy wheels? Every Subaru/Import performance store sells wheels. For purchasing, support your local economy or the NASIOC Vendors.

If I change wheel size, will it effect my speedometer? No, however, if you change the tire circumference, there will a speedometer variation. This website contains a nifty calculator that will assist you determining your new speedometer tolerances as does this website.

Is there a difference between wagon and sedan wheel fitment? Yes, due to the flared fenders on the sedan, it may accommodate aftermarket wheels that would cause rubbing issues with the wagon.

How important is wheel balancing? Very. Wheel balancing is a procedure that improves tire performance by ensuring that the weight of the wheel is evenly distributed. Conversely, an out of balance wheel can accelerate tire and/or suspension component wear. Traditional tire balancing methods are cheap and effective methods to prevent the downsides of an out of balance wheel.

What is radial force balancing? Advanced users, and those with wheel/tire vibrations not solved by normal balancing, might consider the additional cost of radial force balancing. Traditional balancing uses weights to offset minor variations in the weight of the wheel/tire combination around its circumference. In actual use, though, the wheel/tire combination is pressed against the road surface, and so variations in the "springiness" (or radial force) of the tire around its circumference can also cause problems. This radial force variation (RFV) does not necessarily have any connection to "high" or "low" spots in the tire/wheel, and so it cannot be corrected just by measuring runout on an unloaded wheel. The wheel/tire combination needs to be loaded (usually done by pressing a spinning cylinder against the wheel/tire combo, as in a dyno) to measure RFV and calculate weight placement to counteract it. See here for more details. This method is more expensive and runs around $20 per tire depending on your locale. Radial force balancer locator.

What about wheel weight placement? Advanced wheel balancing machines have the technology to let the technician know the optimal placement of wheel weights. This can be in the form of outside the rim, inside, or middle of the wheel "tape weights". Other than purely aesthetic reasons, it is always best to default to the judgment of technology vs. appearance. Always specify your wishes prior to wheel balancing. Some technicians assume the owner does not want externally mounted wheel weights in the case of aftermarket wheels.

How hard is it to install wheels? Allow around one hour for install time. Professional installation, depending on your area, is around $75. This is one vehicle modification that is very simple and can be successfully accomplished by even the greenest shade tree mechanic.

How do I install wheels? Refer to the wheel manufacturer's instructions. For wheels without instructions, below is a link to one of the better known wheel installation instructions:
tirerack.com's instructions

Editors Note

This post was created because I wasn't able to find a good wheel FAQ. I came up with the text based on LOTS of searching here. Upon reading this you should have an idea of what type of wheels best suit your needs. The manufacturer is up to you.

If you find an error in this FAQ, please PM me with factual details and I will update this post. Responses such as, "I have XXX's wheels and they are great!" or "XXX's wheel cracked after 1 month" are not appreciated here, that is what the Car Parts Review Forum is for.
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Last edited by Unabomber; 06-28-2008 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 11-08-2003, 03:52 PM   #2
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*applause*
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Old 11-08-2003, 03:59 PM   #3
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Where do I buy wheels? Every Subaru/Import performance store sells intercooler hoses. For purchasing, support your local economy or the NASIOC Vendors.



Might wanna change that.
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Old 11-08-2003, 07:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for the correction! I also want to thank gerbs for this idea. Apparently he spent the better part of last week researching this subject (which is something too few do prior to mods!) and he said I hit all the major wheel points. I, on the other hand, knew nothing about wheels until about 2 days ago. This FAQ was pretty brutal for me since I have zero interest in it, but hey, why not help out?

PM me your requests for additional FAQs, and I will get to them in short order.

Ron
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Old 11-18-2003, 12:33 PM   #5
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Old 11-30-2003, 06:32 PM   #6
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Default lug size?

Are lugs 19mm or 3/4"?
I've seen 19mm on boards and don't disagree, but I don't see it in the owner's manual or the factory manual. Gotta be documented somewhere doesn't it?

jumbo
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Old 11-30-2003, 08:57 PM   #7
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Unabomber... always helpin the n00bs with his informative FAQ's... nice....
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Old 12-01-2003, 12:57 AM   #8
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Props to the bomber
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Old 12-01-2003, 09:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: lug size?

Quote:
Originally posted by jumbo
Are lugs 19mm or 3/4"?
I've seen 19mm on boards and don't disagree, but I don't see it in the owner's manual or the factory manual. Gotta be documented somewhere doesn't it?

jumbo
Thanks for the input though I didn't see it until today by an odd chance. I bought a jack, 4 jack stands, a torque wrench, and a socket at Sears all in the last few days. I searched here for the lug nut size and didn't get a firm answer. So today, I went into Sears with a lugnut in my hand to get the "final" answer. I tried it in a 19MM and 3/4" socket. My conclusion is as follows based on your question and my findings, I will update the top post:

Standard sockets are too small to provide a good grip on the lugnut. They do fit, but the only cover half of the lug nut.

"Mid size" sockets ([new type?] in between standard and deep well size) provide excellent lugnut coverage, but do not allow great clearance when tightening with a torque wrench. That is to say when you are tightening the lug nuts, you need to be careful when swinging the torque wrench handle as to not ding the wheel well with the handle. It will clear, but it is tight.

Deep well sockets will fit perfectly and allow greater space during the tightening sequence.

Size.....19mm fits the best. 3/4" still fits, but there is slightly more play. when I say slightly, I mean by hundreds of an inch more play. For 99% of people's standards, either one will work, with a slight edge going towards 19mm.

I ended up with a 3/4" mid size socket because it was on sale for around $2. The "best" 19mm deep well socket was around $7. The pricing and sizing mentioned apply to genuine Sears Craftsman products.
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Old 12-01-2003, 11:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
What is radial force balancing? Advanced users might consider the additional cost of radial force balancing. Traditional balancing uses weights to offset the "low spots" in a wheel. Radial force balancing matches the "high spots" in the wheel with the "low spots" in the tire and vice versa, which is more "natural" solution to the balance problem.
I'd suggest changing the above as follows:

What is radial force balancing? Advanced users, and those with wheel/tire vibrations not solved by normal balancing, might consider the additional cost of radial force balancing. Traditional balancing uses weights to offset minor variations in the *weight* of the wheel/tire combination around its circumference. In actual use, though, the wheel/tire combination is pressed against the road surface, and so variations in the "springiness" (or radial force) of the tire around its circumference can also cause problems. This radial force variation (RFV) does not necessarily have any connection to "high" or "low" spots in the tire/wheel, and so it cannot be corrected just by measuring runout on an unloaded wheel. The wheel/tire combination needs to be loaded (usually done by pressing a spinning cylinder against the wheel/tire combo, as in a dyno) to measure RFV and calculate weight placement to counteract it. See here for more details. This method is more expensive...
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Old 12-01-2003, 11:33 PM   #11
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I'd also suggest adding this at the end of the "Are there any downsides to wheels?" section:
Unsprung weight: "Unsprung weight is the total weight of components not supported by the springs. This includes control arms, brake components, spindles, wheels and tires. Reducing unsprung weight is a key factor to improving a vehicle's handling." Among other things, it allows the suspension to react faster and improves the tires' contact with the road, producing more grip on rougher road surfaces. The easiest way to reduce unsprung weight without otherwise compromising performance is to reduce the combined wheel/tire weight. As a benchmark 205/55R16 T1S (a fairly light tire) are 21.2 lbs (RE92s are similar), and stock WRX alloy rims are 16.5 lbs, for a total of ~38 lbs/corner. See http://www.steeda.com/PR/Mustang/alu...rolArmTech.htm for more details on unsprung weight.
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Old 12-02-2003, 01:36 AM   #12
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Final note: I've found that using a 3" extension when loosening/tightening the lug nuts prevents scraped knuckles and scratches on the wheel face. Harborfreight.com sells a 1/2"-drive "clicker" torque wrench for $20 (often on sale for $10) that's great for torquing lug nuts and cheap enough to just toss in the back and who cares if it gets stolen.
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Old 12-02-2003, 08:28 PM   #13
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armand1,

My sincere thanks for making this FAQ better. I also incorporated your 3" extension advice as well. I rotated my tires today and found that a 3" extension makes the job 10X simpler than without it. That clearance makes all the difference. Also, the cheap torque wrench is probably the smartest idea. The Craftsman one I bought only has a 1 year warranty and a $20 one is probably a better value in the long run considering the use time of these type of tools.
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Old 12-03-2003, 12:18 PM   #14
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why arent these things stickied yet?
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Old 12-03-2003, 12:24 PM   #15
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oops. they are actually.
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Old 12-03-2003, 01:55 PM   #16
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Actually this one is not. Some of the FAQs I wrote are, but this one hasn't been added to the FAQ sticky yet. If you appreciate the work I performed, click the "Report this post to a moderator" on the bottom right of this post and recommend to the Moderators that this post be added to the Newbies & FAQs' FAQ sticky at the top of this forum.
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Old 12-04-2003, 09:53 AM   #17
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I noticed that my stock wheels have lug nuts that look like they may need a key of some sort to take them off. Where could I source one of these keys and how much?
Thanks
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Old 12-04-2003, 10:31 PM   #18
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Subaru does offer locking lug nuts (1 per wheel) as an option; I think they might be relabeled McGard brand. If that's what you have, you might be able to order the right "key" at your Subaru dealer, if they can figure out the code from the locking lug nut.
If you've got "splined" lug nuts (all the same, not just one weird one per wheel), the manufacturer sells tools pretty cheap usually -- you've just got to figure out who to go to; you might try your local speed shop. It would help a lot if you could post a closeup photo of the locking lug nut.
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Old 12-07-2003, 10:25 PM   #19
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i reported this to be in the sticky at the top of the page. nice one!
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Old 12-08-2003, 07:37 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by armand1
Subaru does offer locking lug nuts (1 per wheel) as an option; I think they might be relabeled McGard brand. If that's what you have, you might be able to order the right "key" at your Subaru dealer, if they can figure out the code from the locking lug nut.
If you've got "splined" lug nuts (all the same, not just one weird one per wheel), the manufacturer sells tools pretty cheap usually -- you've just got to figure out who to go to; you might try your local speed shop. It would help a lot if you could post a closeup photo of the locking lug nut.
Will do! that way if you can identify it I will just order the key.
Thanks!
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Old 08-01-2006, 11:06 PM   #21
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3/4 vs. 19mm.

3/4" x 25.4 mm/inch = 19.05 mm

So 3/4" is 0.002" larger than 19mm. Probably should work out fine either way, as Unabomber points out.
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Old 08-02-2006, 02:32 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJC1909
3/4 vs. 19mm.

3/4" x 25.4 mm/inch = 19.05 mm

So 3/4" is 0.002" larger than 19mm. Probably should work out fine either way, as Unabomber points out.
I never did math good...jk. way to lay it out in black and white.
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:47 AM   #23
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woot new Unabomber faq. Let us noobs rejoice.
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Old 03-15-2007, 12:11 PM   #24
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Could you add some information about the stock wheels on the 2006 and 2007 models?
I have found out that the 2006 WRX wheels are 17x7. I've found conflicting information about the 2007 wheels. The 2007 Brochure says it's 17x6.5. But the Compare Tool says it's 17x7.
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Old 03-15-2007, 02:12 PM   #25
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Yeah....I've been lazy and you caught me. One of these days I'll do it.
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