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Mercedes Sprinter: Wheel and Tire Choices

Last updated 2017-07-19 - Send Feedback
Related: Sprinter

Photographer and cyclist and Mac expert and software engineer Lloyd Chambers is available for consulting on general Sprinter considerations at his usual consulting rates via phone, or in person in the Palo Alto, CA area. Save yourself hours and mistakes by discussing issues up-front. More about Lloyd....

See the discussion of what I chose for wheels and tires.

All Sprinter van come with 16" wheels ("6.5J X 16"), the 2017 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter arriving with Continental VancoFourSeason 245/75R16. The only question for delivery is whether the wheels are steel or alloy. I was happy with getting painted the steel wheels, since a key goal is use on rough dirt roads with the most clearance (17" wheels) and rims get scraped up on such roads.

BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 info at BFGoodrich.com.

As of mid 2017 Sprinter 4x4 vans come with Continental VancoFourSeason 245/75R16 tires . These are NOT an appropriate choice for offroad use. Non 4x4 models come with an even less good tire for offroad: do you really want to jack up your sprinter on White Mountain Rd or in Cottonwood Canyon Canyon or on the way to RaceTrack Playa? I don’t.

Since I do not want to ever have jack up a van in the sand or dirt (been there done that even with A/T tires), that means avoiding flats. The best way to do that is to get a robust offroad tire. The stock rims can take the BF Goodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2LT245/75R16 , which is a beefy tires with 3-ply sidewalls. Or go with the BF Goodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2 LT265/70R17 on 17-inch rims.

I”m getting my tires and wheels at America’s Tire in Redwood City . Great service and very competitive pricing, free tire rotation, etc. I’ve gotten about 5 sets of tires there over the past 5 years (multiple cars and types of tires).

Two sets of wheels/tires:

The stock wheels and tires are not worth much on the used market, and I know from experience how important a snow tire can be:

A 265/70R17 is an extremely tight fit in the underbody tire rack, see the experience report.

Tire sidewall height, diameter, comfort

For offroading, a taller sidewall means more comfort. Therefore (assuming it fits without rubbing), the 265/75 R16 is ideal for comfort and offroading, because its 199mm sidewall is 15mm higher than either the 256/75 or the 266/70R17, as detailed below. There are some concerns with that however:

  • With taller sidewalls, the ride might become squishy on the highway, particularly when cornering.
  • The 3.9% greater circumference of 265/75R16 versus 245/7R16 will throw off the speedometer and mileage by 3.9%. The dealer may be able to adjust the speedometer to compensate for the difference—the dealer stated that this is possible, but I have not actually confirmed and done it.
  • If the wheels are in the budget also, the 265/70R17 combination has the same speedometer issue, with a 1.5mm taller sidewall versus the 245/75R16.

Sidewall height and circumference change when going away from the 246/75R16 stock tire size, as noted below.

The 265/70R17 combination fits, as well as apparently ideal 265/75R16 (confirmed by an upfitter). However, the stock wheels are 6.5" wide and while a 265/75R16 mounts and looks fine, that size tire is specified as requiring a 7.0 to 8.0 inch rim—the tire is too wide for the rim. The implications of mounting a tire on a rim that is too narrow are unclear, but cannot be considered a plus.

Ideal tire size for sprinter of 265/75 R16 requires 7.0 to 8.0" rim width, but stock Mercedes rims are only 6.6" wide

Wheel and tires choices

16 inch rims

Stock wheels are .5" wide, and the larger tires are specified at a width of 7 to 8 inches for the rim. Many Sprinter owners have nonetheless mounted the 265/75R16 on the stock rims. A call to BF Goodrich technical support indicates that there is some risk of air leakage and/or uneven tread wear. I’ve communicated with some Sprinter owners, and they report no issues.

235/85 R16 = sidewall height of 199.75 mm, total diameter of 805.9mm (+4.1% difference on speedometer)
    16 inches = 406.4mm
    .84*235*2 = 399.5 mm for both sidewalls
    ground clearance gain: +16mm
   Tire requires a 6" to 7.5" rim — FITS STOCK 16 X 6.5 RIM

245/75 R16 = sidewall height of 184 mm, total diameter of 774mm (stock tire size)
    16 inches = 406.4mm
    .75*245*2 = 367.5 mm for both sidewalls

265/70 R16 = sidewall height of 185.5 mm, total diameter of 777.4mm (nil difference on speedometer)
    16 inches = 406.4mm
    .70*265*2 = 371mm for both sidewalls
    ground clearance gain: nil
   Requires 7.0 to 8.0" rim, and the stock rims at 6.5" are out of the tire spec. Appropriate wheels needed.

265/75 R16 = sidewall height of 198.75 mm, total diameter of 804mm (3.9% difference on speedometer)
    16 inches = 406.4mm
    .75*265*2 = 397.5 mm for both sidewalls
    ground clearance gain: +15mm (assuming no sag from softer sidewall)
    Requires 7.0 to 8.0" rim; the stock rims at 6.5" are out of the tire spec. Appropriate wheels needed.

275/70 R16 = sidewall height of 192.5 mm, total diameter of 791.4mm (2.0% difference on speedometer)
    16 inches = 406.4mm
    .70*2752 = 385mm for both sidewalls
    ground clearance gain: +4mm
    Requires 7.0 to 8.0" rim; the stock rims at 6.5" are out of the tire spec. Appropriate wheels needed.

17 inch rims

265/70 R17 = sidewall height of 185.5 mm, total diameter of 803mm (3.7% difference on speedometer)
    17 inches = 431.8mm
    .70*265*2 = 371.0mm for both sidewalls
    ground clearance gain: +14.5mm
    Requires 7.0 to 8.5" rim such as the Moto Metal M0970 or Black Rhino York

275/70 R17 = sidewall height of 192.5 mm, total diameter of 816.8 (5.5% difference on speedometer)
    17 inches = 431.8mm
    .70*75*2 = 385.0mm for both sidewalls
    ground clearance gain: +21.4mm
    Requires 7.0 to 8.5" rim such as the Moto Metal M0970 or Black Rhino York. Tire rub might be an issue and/or rocks and dirt having little opportunity for clearance without fender and mud flap mods.

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Using 17" wheels

Wider widths on larger wheels presumably fit without rubbing, as the wheels and tire shown below suggest (picture from a Sportsmobile build).

The reason to go with a set of 17" rims is to add a bit more clearance: 1" in increased wheel diameter means 0.5" in additional clearance. However, if clearance for offroad use is the goal, then comfort is presumably relevant also, and the best comfort means the tallest sidewall (more flex/give on rough ground), which implies the 235/85R16 tire size.

Using the 265/70R17 size, the increase in diameter is 29mm versus the 245/75R16, for a ground clearance gain of 14.5mm—a bit more than half an inch. This is worthwhile for sure, but not a compelling reason to buy 17 inch rims. The stock rims with 235/85R16 offers +16mm of clearance and a higher sidewall.

As shown below: BF Goodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2 - SIZE: LT265/70R17 mounted on Moto Metal M0970 rims.

BF Goodrich K02 265/70R17 tire mounted on Moto Metal M0970 rim on 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 4x4
Sprinter offroad setup: BF Goodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2 - SIZE: LT265/70R17 mounted on Moto Metal M0970 rims
America’s Tire of Redwood City California mounted BF Goodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2 LT265/70R17 onto Moto Metal M0970 rim for 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 4x4

Stock OEM steel wheels

For reference, the stock steel wheels/tires delivered with a 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 4x4.

OEM steel wheels/tires delivered with a 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 4x4

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