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Discuss OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!? in the alt.autos.gm forum at Car Dealer Forums; Hi all. I drive a 2004 Chevy (Malibu) Classic. Recently I've started to wonder if ...
  1. #1
    Eric
    Guest

    Default OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?

    Hi all.

    I drive a 2004 Chevy (Malibu) Classic. Recently I've started to wonder
    if something is screwy with the OE tire size of 205/65/15.

    Specifically, I wonder if it throws off the speedometer, which might be
    calibrated using 215/60/15 tires. That was the standard equipment tire
    size on the 2003 Malibu, of which the Malibu is pretty much a clone,
    apart from the smaller engine.

    The reason I say this is that I recently returned from a long road trip
    to visit family. This time I clocked the mileage from here (northeast
    PA) to Ohio using the trip odometer. It registered 364.9....and it's
    supposed to be a shade over 373, per MapQuest. That gave me a jolt when
    I got there.

    Even if MapQuest is wrong, on the way home I checked the trip odometer
    against the mile markers on the side of I-80. What should have been 307
    miles in PA on I-80 was 300-301. The overall mileage again was 364-365
    per the trip odometer.

    This means the speedo is too slow by a little more than 2%, if my math
    is right. Once I studied possible causes online, I suspected the
    potential tire mixup and logged onto an online tire size calculator,
    which says that using 205/65 rather than 215/60 on 15-inch wheels
    yields a error ratio of 1.348% too slow. The speedo would read 59.2
    when the car was going 60, per the calculator.

    http://www.1010tires.com/TireSizeCal...?action=submit

    That still does not account for the whole difference between the
    odometer and reality, but it goes a long way.

    Then I checked the speedometer against the "your speed is X" flashing
    signs we see on the sides of highways around here. Sure enough, when I
    looked close I saw that my speedo read 58 while the sign flashed 59.
    Just to be sure I checked again and got the same 1 mph too slow result.
    (The precise speeds were slightly lower.)

    Finally, it occurred to me this might one of the reasons for the
    disappointing fuel economy the Classic has delivered in the 8 months
    I've had it. I've gotten nowhere near the EPA readings of 24//34, as
    I've posted here a few times.

    Even adding an extra 1.5 or 2% to the number of miles driven does not
    make up the difference in gas mileage, but again it's something.

    Has anyone else who owns a Classic noticed that their
    odometer/speedometer is off?

    My theory is that Chevy decided 205/65 was a better tire size to sell
    to fleet buyers, I guess because the ride is slightly smoother, and
    also that size is slightly cheaper in most cases. However, the Classic
    speedometer is still calibrated as though the car would take 215/60, if
    my theory proves true.

    I must admit to a complete lack of technical know-how as to the way
    speedometers are calibrated. If that's not the answer, though, it means
    something is screwy with my speedo and odometer.

    If I could afford it, I'd buy a set of cheapo 215/60/15 tires and take
    them on a long highway trip to test my theory. Since that's not too
    practical, finanially or otherwise, I'm interested in all comments and
    opinions on this.

    Thanks.

    Regards,
    Eric M


  2. #2
    Scott Buchanan
    Guest

    Default Re: OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?

    What is the difference in the circumference of the two tire sizes?

    You gotta realize that nothing is exact. The variance that you are seeing is
    not that much and probably within industry standards. A mid '80s Honda that
    I once drove read 5 mph high at freeway speeds. As I recall the owners
    manual said that this was on purpose to help to keep the driver from going
    over the speed limit. I wonder if this is why people drive slow in the fast
    lane: they think that they are going faster that they are.

    For reference, my 95 GA shows 2 mph over actual speed.

    "Eric" <ericmark4@yahoo.com> wrote in message
    news:1154143014.724067.82200@m79g2000cwm.googlegro ups.com...
    > Hi all.
    >
    > I drive a 2004 Chevy (Malibu) Classic. Recently I've started to wonder
    > if something is screwy with the OE tire size of 205/65/15.
    >
    > Specifically, I wonder if it throws off the speedometer, which might be
    > calibrated using 215/60/15 tires. That was the standard equipment tire
    > size on the 2003 Malibu, of which the Malibu is pretty much a clone,
    > apart from the smaller engine.
    >
    > The reason I say this is that I recently returned from a long road trip
    > to visit family. This time I clocked the mileage from here (northeast
    > PA) to Ohio using the trip odometer. It registered 364.9....and it's
    > supposed to be a shade over 373, per MapQuest. That gave me a jolt when
    > I got there.
    >
    > Even if MapQuest is wrong, on the way home I checked the trip odometer
    > against the mile markers on the side of I-80. What should have been 307
    > miles in PA on I-80 was 300-301. The overall mileage again was 364-365
    > per the trip odometer.
    >
    > This means the speedo is too slow by a little more than 2%, if my math
    > is right. Once I studied possible causes online, I suspected the
    > potential tire mixup and logged onto an online tire size calculator,
    > which says that using 205/65 rather than 215/60 on 15-inch wheels
    > yields a error ratio of 1.348% too slow. The speedo would read 59.2
    > when the car was going 60, per the calculator.
    >
    > http://www.1010tires.com/TireSizeCal...?action=submit
    >
    > That still does not account for the whole difference between the
    > odometer and reality, but it goes a long way.
    >
    > Then I checked the speedometer against the "your speed is X" flashing
    > signs we see on the sides of highways around here. Sure enough, when I
    > looked close I saw that my speedo read 58 while the sign flashed 59.
    > Just to be sure I checked again and got the same 1 mph too slow result.
    > (The precise speeds were slightly lower.)
    >
    > Finally, it occurred to me this might one of the reasons for the
    > disappointing fuel economy the Classic has delivered in the 8 months
    > I've had it. I've gotten nowhere near the EPA readings of 24//34, as
    > I've posted here a few times.
    >
    > Even adding an extra 1.5 or 2% to the number of miles driven does not
    > make up the difference in gas mileage, but again it's something.
    >
    > Has anyone else who owns a Classic noticed that their
    > odometer/speedometer is off?
    >
    > My theory is that Chevy decided 205/65 was a better tire size to sell
    > to fleet buyers, I guess because the ride is slightly smoother, and
    > also that size is slightly cheaper in most cases. However, the Classic
    > speedometer is still calibrated as though the car would take 215/60, if
    > my theory proves true.
    >
    > I must admit to a complete lack of technical know-how as to the way
    > speedometers are calibrated. If that's not the answer, though, it means
    > something is screwy with my speedo and odometer.
    >
    > If I could afford it, I'd buy a set of cheapo 215/60/15 tires and take
    > them on a long highway trip to test my theory. Since that's not too
    > practical, finanially or otherwise, I'm interested in all comments and
    > opinions on this.
    >
    > Thanks.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Eric M
    >




  3. #3
    Just Facts
    Guest

    Default Re: OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?

    In article <1154143014.724067.82200@m79g2000cwm.googlegroups. com>,
    "Eric" <ericmark4@yahoo.com> wrote:

    > This means the speedo is too slow by a little more than 2%, if my math
    > is right. Once I studied possible causes online, I suspected the
    > potential tire mixup and logged onto an online tire size calculator,
    > which says that using 205/65 rather than 215/60 on 15-inch wheels
    > yields a error ratio of 1.348% too slow. The speedo would read 59.2
    > when the car was going 60, per the calculator.
    >
    > http://www.1010tires.com/TireSizeCal...?action=submit
    >
    > That still does not account for the whole difference between the
    > odometer and reality, but it goes a long way.


    You're being just a bit fussy. That 1 or 2% error is very close.
    Knowing GM they probably saved money by mounting 65% tires.

    Usually the ODO is a bit fast, but I once experienced it 8% slow on a
    Chrysler Horizon sports model with 60% tires; 70% profile was on the
    std. car model. When the crappy Firestone original tires ended their
    useful life very early I mounted a set of 70% tires that I calculated
    would correct my speedometer error. It did and I no longer feared
    getting caught in speed traps.
    Of course if your ODO is low, you car accumulates miles slower, better
    for resale.

  4. #4
    Eric
    Guest

    Default Re: OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?


    Scott Buchanan wrote:
    > What is the difference in the circumference of the two tire sizes?
    >
    > You gotta realize that nothing is exact. The variance that you are seeing is
    > not that much and probably within industry standards. A mid '80s Honda that
    > I once drove read 5 mph high at freeway speeds. As I recall the owners
    > manual said that this was on purpose to help to keep the driver from going
    > over the speed limit. I wonder if this is why people drive slow in the fast
    > lane: they think that they are going faster that they are.
    >
    > For reference, my 95 GA shows 2 mph over actual speed.



    What size tires do you run on the GA and what was the original size? I
    think the base version around that time had something like 195/70/14, a
    seemingly weird size, (especially for a semi-sports car which would
    normally take lower-profile, 55 or 60-series, tires), that I don't
    think is used as OE on any new car these days.

    You are right that the variance on my Classic is not 'that' big....but
    I'd still like to figure out why it's there.

    Regards,
    Eric M


  5. #5
    Eric
    Guest

    Default Re: OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?


    Just Facts wrote:
    > In article <1154143014.724067.82200@m79g2000cwm.googlegroups. com>,
    > "Eric" <ericmark4@yahoo.com> wrote:
    >
    > > This means the speedo is too slow by a little more than 2%, if my math
    > > is right. Once I studied possible causes online, I suspected the
    > > potential tire mixup and logged onto an online tire size calculator,
    > > which says that using 205/65 rather than 215/60 on 15-inch wheels
    > > yields a error ratio of 1.348% too slow. The speedo would read 59.2
    > > when the car was going 60, per the calculator.
    > >
    > > http://www.1010tires.com/TireSizeCal...?action=submit
    > >
    > > That still does not account for the whole difference between the
    > > odometer and reality, but it goes a long way.

    >
    > You're being just a bit fussy. That 1 or 2% error is very close.
    > Knowing GM they probably saved money by mounting 65% tires.



    Yep; that's my theory. Perhaps it is a bit "fussy" but I think the
    least they could do is recalibrate the speedometer if they change tire
    sizes.


    > Usually the ODO is a bit fast, but I once experienced it 8% slow on a
    > Chrysler Horizon sports model with 60% tires; 70% profile was on the
    > std. car model. When the crappy Firestone original tires ended their
    > useful life very early I mounted a set of 70% tires that I calculated
    > would correct my speedometer error. It did and I no longer feared
    > getting caught in speed traps.



    8% is too big a difference; it can mess with your braking, or so say
    the alleged experts. Of course if you're going to run 60-series tires
    on a car that was designed for 70, (or vice versa), you have to change
    the width of the tires you use to compensate. For instance 225/60/16 is
    almost the same as 205/65/16, (0.5% off), while 205/60/16 is a pretty
    big difference. (3.6%)

    Hmm, that's not a good example....Here's a better one: There's more
    than a 6% difference between 205/60/15 and 205/70/15.

    Not everyone takes this into account when buying tires. I know people
    who in general know more about cars than I do who still refer to tires
    solely by wheel size, i.e. "16-inch tires," "15-inch tires," etc.

    It goes back to the old days in the '70s and even into the '80s, when
    most passenger car tires were high profile and---by today''s
    standards---relatively narrow. Back then you could, for the most part,
    pull into a garage or tire shop, ask for good "15-inch tires" and run
    whatever they had in stock.

    Not any more: The trend now is for bigger wheels and wider,
    lower-profile tires, even on vehicles no one will ever think of as
    "sporty." i.e. the new Ford Crown Vic and Chevy Impala come with 225/60
    tires.

    Anyway, thanks for the advice.

    Regards,
    Eric M



    > Of course if your ODO is low, you car accumulates miles slower, better
    > for resale.



  6. #6
    Scott Buchanan
    Guest

    Default Re: OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?

    I don't recall of the top of my head, but I did get the same size that is
    stated on the tag on the door.

    Modern speedometers work by counting pulses from the speed sensor. If these
    pulses don't mathematically work exactly into the circumference of the tire
    there will be some error. And that is not taking into the tolerance of the
    electronics of the speedometer.

    Would your speedometer be closer if it had the other tire size that you
    mentioned?

    "Eric" <ericmark4@yahoo.com> wrote in message
    news:1154371361.900544.163220@s13g2000cwa.googlegr oups.com...
    >
    > Scott Buchanan wrote:
    > > What is the difference in the circumference of the two tire sizes?
    > >
    > > You gotta realize that nothing is exact. The variance that you are

    seeing is
    > > not that much and probably within industry standards. A mid '80s Honda

    that
    > > I once drove read 5 mph high at freeway speeds. As I recall the owners
    > > manual said that this was on purpose to help to keep the driver from

    going
    > > over the speed limit. I wonder if this is why people drive slow in the

    fast
    > > lane: they think that they are going faster that they are.
    > >
    > > For reference, my 95 GA shows 2 mph over actual speed.

    >
    >
    > What size tires do you run on the GA and what was the original size? I
    > think the base version around that time had something like 195/70/14, a
    > seemingly weird size, (especially for a semi-sports car which would
    > normally take lower-profile, 55 or 60-series, tires), that I don't
    > think is used as OE on any new car these days.
    >
    > You are right that the variance on my Classic is not 'that' big....but
    > I'd still like to figure out why it's there.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Eric M
    >




  7. #7
    Eric
    Guest

    Default Re: OE tire size mix up: '04 Malibu Classic?!?


    Scott Buchanan wrote:
    > I don't recall of the top of my head, but I did get the same size that is
    > stated on the tag on the door.
    >
    > Modern speedometers work by counting pulses from the speed sensor. If these
    > pulses don't mathematically work exactly into the circumference of the tire
    > there will be some error. And that is not taking into the tolerance of the
    > electronics of the speedometer.
    >
    > Would your speedometer be closer if it had the other tire size that you
    > mentioned?


    I think so, but I'm not about to spend the $$$ to buy new tires to find
    out. Next time I need tires I will consider it.

    Personally I like the slightly narrower, higher 205/65 tires for ride
    quality and winter traction. The small tradeoff in handling and
    cornering I can live with, at least in a car like the Classic. If I
    ever win the lottery I'll probably get a sports car to take out in the
    summer on the side roads; in that case I'll go for wide low sticky
    tires. I'm not holding my breath.

    If your tires are the designated size per the door sticker, the
    speedometer/odometer should not be that far off. Strange....

    Regards,
    Eric M


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