Type 2 Tires: Frequently Asked Questions

by the Type2 Mailing List

Summary of Tire Requirements for a Type 2:

This is a conservative outline of how to choose the best tires for your Type 2 based on factory recommendations. Running tires that are insufficiently load rated, for a passenger car, or too wide (especially on a heavier Type 2 camper) can lead to problems such as: tread separation and blowouts, poor handling, and premature steering component wear. Wider tires such as 205s will fit under the wheel well, but might scrape the bodywork in turns and will be more difficult to steer from a standstill.

Other considerations:

An Example of an Ideal Tire Meeting All the Above Criteria:

Yokohama LT195/75/R14
Tire rack #37047
1750 lb/D load range, 8 ply, LT tires

The Yoko Y370 LT 195/75 R 14 M&S are D load rated with 6 Steel belts and 2 Nylon. The sidewalls have 2 steel and 2 nylon.

LT195/75R14 YO Y370 D 58.00(must be special ordered)

**Note: The Yoko Y370G are passenger car tires--avoid these

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HELP THE TIRE FAQ GROW! : If you've discovered a tire model that meets the above criteria and is not listed in the table below, please send information on the tire including the Brand, Model, Size, Plies/Load Range/Maximum PSI and Weight rating and any comments. The information will be tabularized.
Thanks to Matt Judd, Rodney Boleyn, and Bruce Pattington for contributing!
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Detailed Tire Information from the Type2 Archive:

From Ken Hooper on Thu, 12 Jun 1997 13:01:38 -0600:

Filched from the Bus FAQ in the Vanagon Files Archive, whence come many useful things:

TIRES -- check out: The Tire Rack

All Models, Buses and Vanagons
"REGULAR" TIRES (highway/all season)
Tire Brand and Model Size Plies/Load Range/Max. PSI/Max. Weight Comments
BF Goodrich
All-Terrain TA LT
Triguard Sidewall radial
(also known as "Baja Commanders" or "Baja Champions?"

27x8.50 14

(3+2 tread, 3 sidewall)

camper: loves them; stiff, somewhat noisy; good handling; higher ground clearance
RD-603 LT

185R14ST D

(marked "8 ply")
(2+2 tread, 2 sidewall)

Nice and stable; Too early to know wearing qualities. Beautiful handling; no wander.
SRM II Radial LT


Load Index: 102; Speed Symbol: Q; 65psi; 1875 max load; load range: D Highway tread
Load Index: 106; Speed Symbol: Q; 65psi; 2095 max load; load range: D; Highway tread

SP LT5 Tubeless



good handling



*Standard Load;Treadwear 340;Traction A / Temp B;Great hi/lo speed handling esp when wet



Safari All-Terrain
850x27R14 ?/?/??/???? ???

XZX Reinforced
MXL Reinforced

MXT Reinforced







good handling, nice feel

Good (imho)
1=Good, 1=Horrid (squirrely)

1=good grip,stable
MX Reinforced


Plies: 6PR (2+2 tread, 2 SW); Load Range: 94R; Max PSI: 40 psi; Max Load: 1540 lbs.

(Aug99) Meet the bare minimum specs for a bus, officially passenger tires, not LT, not M+S rated, and for $72.95/ea from Big-O they seem expensive. Treadwear 240, Traction A, Temp. B. Michelin's Model# is NA0024210. Firmer than the previous non-reinforced passenger tires I had on my bus, but no other reactions yet. Is this the replacement for the (NLA?) XZX line?
Trailhandler A-T

Trailhandler APT





1=horrid high speed, 1=good all round

Good+(so far) 40k warranty
Trailclimbers LT



good traction, good stability, good cornering
195/75R14 6/C/50/???? opean tread all-season, OK (lowish) noise, Handling ??, only 1 mounted, doesn't wallow; full set: quiet, good handling, cheap price
Radial 371 AII



long wearing
quiet, smooth, tough, excellent wear/handling
Tire Brand and Model Size Plies/Load Range/Max. PSI/Max. Weight Comments



stiff, don't squirm
Hakkapeliitta 10 M+S



tires have a rotation arrow, so they must be mounted correctly

Microbuses, 1963-1967 (from Bentley manual):
  3/4-Ton Payload:
     4-1/2 K x 15 Rims
     6.40-15 Tires, 4 ply rating
  1-Ton Payload (including Firetruck):
     5 JK x 14 Rims
     7.00-14 Tubeless Tires, 6 ply rating

Vanagons (from Bentley manual):
     185 R 14 C
     7.00-14 8 PR
     185 SR 14 Reinforced
     205/70 R 14

For tires using the P-metric designation (e.g., P245/50ZR16)

Format: [Code][Width]/[Aspect][Speed][Construction][Size]


P = Passenger
LT = Light truck
T = Temporary
LTP = Light truck, personal use


Width at widest point, sidewall to sidewall, in millimeters

Aspect: the Aspect Ratio, ratio of tire sidewall height to tread width. Tire height in mm, measured tread to bead, divided by width above, multiplied by one hundred.

Speed:Speed Ratings, the maximum speed the tire can maintain at its maximum load rating.

Q - 100 mph
R - 106 mph
S - 112 mph
T - 118 mph
U - 124 mph
H - 130 mph
V - 149 mph
W - 168 mph
Z - more than 168 mph


R - Radial ply
B - Bias belted
D - Diagonal bias

Size: The diameter of the wheel the tire is designed to be mounted on, in inches.

Other information:

Bren Smith

From Steve Lashley on Mon, 23 Mar 1998 21:28:15 -0700:

I got my new tires from The Tire Rack delivered today. UPS left them on the front porch. Here is what they say on them:


The sticker also says 8PR LT on it, although the tires don't say 8PR. I'm not sure how they get the 8 ply from the above description.

The tread is much more aggressive than the Y356 tires I have now. These really look like mud and snow radials. I expect to have a little rougher an noisier ride once they are installed.

No you won't find the Y370s on the Tire Rack site. They do carry them. I just received mine last week. $58 ea, plus $27 shipping. Make sure you speak with someone who knows what these tires are. There is some confusion regarding these because Yokohama makes a Y370G tire which is a passenger white wall.

From David Raistrick:

As for what tires I WOULD recommend: Yokohama 370 LT195/75R14

Sears can get them. Load D tire, mild allterrain tread. I've put almost 35k on them since september when I bought them. Rain, dry, dirt, mud, ice. No snow. Gravel too...:)

Love them. A little noisy, but easily bearable.

One note: Don't let anyone tell you to get the 185 or 195 Yokohama 356's. Why? They are highway rib tires, that do not have sideways grooves to allow water out.....though they are Load D tires.

There are a few 195/75R14 or 185R14 tires available, Bridgestone makes one, I know..in the Dueler line. Decent tire also. You need a load C or load D tire, and you want an all season radial, not a highway tire...:)

From Stephen T Whetstone:

I'm not certain if these tires have been discussed much before, but the tires I bought for my '78 Westfalia were Continentals. I believe the models are Contact CS/CT21. They have the 185r14 reinforced.

I ordered mine through Sears and believe I ended up paying $304 (10% off sale) for four after mounting/balancing/disposal/ taxes/etc. I've notice that handle noticeably better than the previous Michelins that were on it when I bought it. I believe the old tires were "XZX" & ?

I had originally seen a set on a Westie at one of the BugOuts in Manassas, VA last year.

From Jack Stafford:

I bought some new tires at my local FLATS. Bridgestone RD603, 8-ply rating, Load Range D, Max load 1850lb @ 65psi cold. $72 each, mounted and balanced. They are the stock size, 185R14 so my snow chains will still fit them. End of tire testimonial...

From William Warburton:

As far as choosing good tyres is concerned my recommendations (and those of other listees) would be to look for:

  1. an "LT" designation, with "Load range C" or "Load range D".
  2. the "C" suffix on the tyre designation- ie 185R14C _not_ 185R14
  3. A maximum inflation pressure of 50-60psi. not 40psi
  4. A maximum weight rating of over 1500lbs.

Although I am talking only about 185R14 sized tyres you should be aware that VW specified 195R14 as a valid alternative, so you can use those, too. It's perfectly possible to go with some other sizes- 195/75R14, for example, or possibly 215/70R14, however you are then diverting sufficiently far from stock that you should make sure you understand the implications of the size, speed and weight ratings, sidewall stiffness and tread design before going ahead- unfortunately you can't trust the tyre-people to do this right as they often don't have the knowledge and experience to know what works well on a bus. The weight ratings of "Passenger car" tyres are different from those of "Light Truck" tyres- hence the preference for the "LT"s If you're looking at passenger car tyres then you might find it useful to know that VW specified a load index of 97R to be appropriate for a vanagon. That's a weight rating of 1609lbs at a maximum of 106mph, if memory serves. Most arn't this high- 92 or 94 is more common.

Steve Lashley wrote:

I don't have the Yokohama book, but I have a list from them and all of these tires are listed under Y370G:

1857514 #37050 max load 1279 lbs
1957514 #37051 max load 1389 lbs
2057514 #37052 max load 1521 lbs
LT195/75R14 #37047 8ply load range D

These are all considered 40,000 mile, all season tires

have been told that any of these tires will fit the Vanagon.

There are also Y356 tires available that are still all season but with a less aggressive tread.

185R14 #35601 6 ply load range C
185R14 #35603 8 ply load range D LT
LT195/75R14 #35602 8 ply load range D

George Lyle on Sat Jan 10 12:52:42 1998 responds:

My recent tire follies have shown that there is a big difference between the rated load of 185R14 and 195/75R14 tires, with the _185R14_ having the higher load rating. (yes, I typed that correctly). The 195/75R14 tires were slightly smaller in all dimensions (except tread width, which was equal) than the 185R14.

My standard-load 185R14 tires are rated at 1450 pounds at 36PSI

Load range C 185R14 tires are rated at over 1700 pounds (don't remember the exact number) at 50PSI.

The load range C 195/75R14LT tires I bought were only rated at 1435 pounds at 50PSI! Note that this is _less_ than the standard load 185R14 tires. Very disappointing!

The specified tire load rating for my '71 station wagon is 1520 pounds at 40PSI.

Seems that if you want to use tires of the proper capacity for a bus, you need to get either 185R14 load range C, or 195/75R14 load range D, with the former size being closer to the original 700-14 specification.

I've seen the 185R14 in a Hercules brand for a reasonable price, but the load range C version of that tire isn't rated M+S. Darn!

Two more considerations:

Bus steering boxes are pretty fragile and expensive. Wider-than-stock tires (and they're all wider than stock nowadays!) put more stress on the steering box than the originals. There's no cure for this other than making sure that you are rolling a bit before cranking the wheels around.

Tire chain clearance is limited. Both the 185R14s and 195/75R14 have sufficient clearance on my bus if you are careful to install the chains (limited clearance type) carefully. I avoid chains like the plague, but if I have to use them I don't want to destroy anything!

From Roy D. Robertson on Fri Jul 11 10:11:32 1997:

A number (too many) threads in the archives discuss tires. But which tires to buy is a big decision - I've regretted not buying the best tires for my bus before, so here's my advice on the subject again:

A VW bus, particularly a Westy, needs reinforced-sidewall tires. VW recommends 185R14 tires. P-rated tires, such as P185/14, are passenger tires and not rated for the heavier loads/sidewinds buses experience. Reinforced-sidewall tires help keep the bus in its lane on the highway instead of being blown about so. A bus, and especially a Westy, has a higher carrying capacity than most cars, and needs more heavy-duty tires to take full advantage of this capacity.

I've bought tires from The Tire Rack

1-888-362-8473, x 373 Don

Their selection is much larger and their prices much lower than what you can usually find locally. I bought four Yokohama Y370LT195/75R14 tires from them a few months ago. They cost $58 each, plus UPS ground shipping.

These tires seem to be perfect match for my VW bus. They have an all-weather tread design that gives good traction on dirt roads, while preserving a smooth ride on the highway. Being stronger tires than P-rated radials, the maximum air pressure for these is 65 psi. I keep mine inflated to about 52 psi rear, 40 psi front. I think that the decreased rolling resistance provided by the extra inflation pressure gives the bus something like 1~2 mpg better fuel economy than with P-rated tires. The 195/75 tires are slightly taller than 185 tires, providing a little more clearance on rough roads and slightly higher over-all drive (gearing) ratio.

From George Lyle on Sat, 25 Jul 1998 17:09:30 -0700 (PDT):

The gross weight of the camper and station wagon is the same, so the tire requirement (at least from the factory) is the same. You can get by with lesser tires in a station wagon as the empty weight is a lot less than a camper and you usually don't get fully loaded. I don't recommend this...

VW requires a load rating of 1400 pounds. I'm pretty sure that the 185R14 "C" tire will handle this. A "D" rated tire is up around 1700+ pounds so it will handle a bus easily.

With most of these tires you will get 2 polyester plies in both the sidewall and tread (they wrap all the way around) and two steel plies in the tread area only. Standard load tires will have only one sidewall ply. The "ply rating" is a marketing gimmick that does not state the actual number of plies. For example, my Bridgestones are "8-ply rated", but only have four plies in the tread and two in the sidewall. I suppose that this is probably as strong or stronger than the original rayon-carcass bias-ply tires that the bus came with.

The real story is in the fine print on the sidewall that tells you the actual load rating in pounds. If the number is 1400 pounds or greater, you're cool.

From Steve Lashley on Sun, 22 Jun 1997 19:50:41 -0400:

I've read several posts about tires recently, and it seems that many tire shops are trying to talk Bus/Westy owners into some nice in stock passenger car tires. I suggest if they do this, insist on the correct tire, or go somewhere else. At least the Firestone guy was on the right track. My 8ply tires are rated at 1850 lbs. My Buses rear end weighs 2800 lbs, and the Bus weighs 4961 lbs empty. If I add all of my gear, and five passengers then I'm getting close to 6000 lbs total weight, thats 1500 lbs per tire. I don't think that the 8 ply tires are too much tire at all.

When I purchased my '74 Campmobile, it had passenger car tires on it. I immediately put on the Yokohama 356s and there was a major improvement in handling.

If you can still get the 6 ply Yokohama or Michelins, then thats what I would do. If you can't find these and 8 ply Firestones are available, then I would go for it.

From George Lyle on Wed Jul 30 12:45:10 1997:

I know that it's probably blasphemous to say it, but I get along very nicely with Hercules YP-821 4-ply-rated 185R14 standard-load tires (also sold under the brand names of Merit, Jupiter, etc.) Their load rating is 1450 pounds which gives me a comfortable margin even fully loaded (which is seldom). Their treadwear rating is 300, traction rating is A, Temperature B (which doesn't matter at bus speeds). The bus handles well with them and they cost a bit over $200 for four, mounted and balanced. One very nice thing that I have noted is that these tires don't tend to wear on the edges as did other tires (including expensive ones) I have tried.

After fighting one bad steering box in my '71, I wouldn't put anything wider than a 185 on my bus. Even then, I never turn the wheels with the bus stationary, since modern radials require more effort to turn at rest than the original bias tires. Forget the 205s!

Other tips:

If you haven't yet done so, install metal screw-in valve stems. One less thing to worry about.

If your rims need painting, the best time to do it is when changing tires, since you don't have to mask the tire.

Don't let the tire folks install the lug nuts with an air wrench. They should torque them by hand if you ask nicely.

Some tire stores attempt to balance the wheels with weights on the inside of the rim only for aesthetic reasons. If that's your thing, fine, but they can do a better job if they put weights on both the inside and outside.

From William Warburton (on non-stock rims and tire profiles):

... I have ... decided instead to source out a new set of alloy wheel rims and lower profile tyres, thus, achieving the same effect, or nearly, and the desired look.

Which effect? Lower profile tyre should reduce sidewall squish in a turn but will not lower the centre of gravity unless you reduce the overall size of the wheel+tyre quite a bit. This will obviously impact gear ratio (at the rear) and speedometer accuracy (at the front).

Well, how low.....and how wide ? Are there limits ?e.g.: 16 " wide rims with Pirelli P6's ?...and does this mess with your speedo ?

If you look at the way-kewl kustom buses, they run some very low profile rubber. This looks flash but the general concensus seems to be that it doesn't work too well for driving... and driving busses is what this list is all about.

The main issues are (1) The bus steering box is quite fragile. Low profile tyres and fat rubber increase the strain and lead to premature wear. (2) Ultra-low profile tyres just don't work that well on busses. I don't have a good explanation of why this is the case but it seems pretty widely accepted. My guess is that the combination of high centre of gravity and unsophisticated suspension mean you just don't get the benefits you might expect and have to live with tough parking, tramlining, aquaplaning, poor ride etc. Couple this with the fact that fat tyres decrease wet weather grip and it looks like it's best not to go too far, unless you tow your bus to the showground.

As far as speedometer accuracy is concerned, you just need to ensure that the overall diameter of the front wheel+tyre remains the same. This is known as "plus sizing": "+1" is a 1" increase in wheel diameter coupled with a 1/2" decrease in tyre sidewall height (there are two sidewalls per diameter), "+2" goes up two inches on the wheel (14"->16") and decreases the sidewall height by 1" etc.

If you want to make a modest change, you can go to a +1 setup with a 15" wheel and run 195/70R15C tyres. This reduces the sidewall height a little and gives you a slightly fatter tyre. The same wheels could be used with wider, lower profile tyres, too: 205/65R15 is the same size. The next width isn't as neat: 215/60R15 is a bit smaller than stock and 215/65R15 a bit larger. I havn't researched the options for 16" wheels, but the same principles apply. There's a good bit of info in the archives (check the vanagon ones, too) on the topic.

The final, and important, point is that bus tyres need to be substantially stronger that car tyres. This is particularly true if you actually want better handling. Most low profile tyres are designed for lightweight, sporty cars (this may be less of a problem in the USA than in Europe, mind you) and won't have adequate load carrying capacity for a bus.

You need a weight capacity of over 1500lbs for safety, and more than that for a good stiff sidewall. Tyres have a load index on the sidewall and for a bus you want something like 97S (730kg/1609lbs) or better (good van tyres are often 100 or more). The letter is the speed rating (S=up to 113mph) and generally isn't an issue for a bus :-). Eurovans use a 195/70R15C tyre, they will be strong and relatively cheap. Once you get over 195-section most of the tyres available in adequate weight ratings (look for "reinforced" tyres) are for big, powerful saloons/estates and they get a lot more expensive. You're typically paying for a 140mph speed rating you don't need.

Also, will any 5-stud wheel fit......can anyone suggest a happy and attractive combination ?

There are a few possibilities, though none seem to be perfect. You need a wheel with a 5-stud pcd (Pitch circle diameter) of 112mm. This matches a few fords, some Mercedes and some of the bigger Audi and VW saloons. You can also get adapters to fit Porsche wheels to a bus- some folks say that adapters are always a bad idea. Others that good adapters are OK, and the Fuchs wheels are so good (strong, light) that the combination is worthwhile. Genuine Fuchs wheels are expensive, copies are dangerous.

Unfortunately you also need to get the relationship between the tyre centreline and the hub correct. For a bus the "offset" is 41mm. Some of the Mercedes wheels are correct. Some are close (I don't know how close it needs to be) and I don't know about the others.

Finally, few of these cars have a hub that's as big as a bus and the profile of the lugnut seat needs to match. Depending on your situation, you might be best to work out how big you want to go, check you can get tyres to match and then hunt around some breakers yards for wheels that fit. Check the offset carefully before trying them and then make sure you can fit them OK.

You can, of course, buy new alloys from an aftermarket wheel supplier. If you go this route I would not trust the fitter to know what they are doing with a bus: even if they've fitted alloys to a bus before it was probably for someone who wanted them for show use not driving.

Finally, the steel rims that VW used are actually pretty good. They are lighter than many cheap alloys and lightness is a good thing in a wheel (unsprung weight).

I hope this is helpful, sorry it's so long but I still feel I've left out a lot of important detail!!!

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