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Reader help: Dealer says I can’t fit smaller wheels to my Ford Everest Titanium

Wheels and tyres are one of the most common modifications made to 4x4s, and one Ford Everest Titanium owner has been told he can’t fit smaller wheels to it, only bigger…

G’day Practical Motoring team,

I’m a regular reader of your site and find it informative on all things motoring related.

I have a Ford Everest Titanium and enjoy the vehicle as a tow vehicle and as a 4WD but have run into a problem with wheel/tyre options. Ford has fitted the Titanium with 20-inch wheels and HT tyres for on road use these are great but useless on sand unless it is hard packed.  I want to purchase a set of 17-inch or 18-inch wheels fitted with AT tyres for Moreton Is/Fraser Island and cross-Australia six-month adventure yet Ford has restricted fitment of aftermarket tyres by only listing on the tyre placard 20-inch wheels for the Titanium model, stopping me from fitting even Ford wheel/tyre combinations from the Ambiente or Trend models.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

I’ve contacted Ford and they referred me to my dealer and they concur that I can fit bigger wheels 21-inch legally (not interested in turning my car into a Toorak Tractor?) but cannot fit smaller 18-inch or 17-inch wheels.

Is this something that is becoming standard with vehicle manufacturers? Previous vehicles I’ve owned have tyre placards listing all wheel size options (from every model variant) yet Everest is different and for a vehicle meant for 4×4 use I find this incredulous. If I had been advised of this prior to purchasing the vehicle I would have seriously questioned the Ford as a purchase and looked at alternatives. Stories of Adblue incorrectly reporting empty online (thankfully my vehicle hasn’t had this) and rear engine seal failures (shared with Ranger) don’t help when planning to venture off the beaten track.

Any advice on solving this problem would be gratefully accepted, one suggestion was to purchase from Ford spare parts the tyre placard from an ambiente or trend model but surely it couldn’t be that simple?  If I am stuck with 20-inch it would be a timely reminder to other 4WD purchasers to avoid buying the Everest, or at least the 4×4 version if actually wanting to the use the vehicle “off road”. Keep up the good work on the articles on the site!

Thanks for your question,

First, some background for other readers. The Ford Everest comes in three trim grades, Ambiente, Trend and Titatium. As usual with manufacturers, Ford has chosen to fit larger wheels to the top model, the Titanum. Note that this does NOT mean the tyre is any greater diameter, merely that the wheel is larger and the tyre thinner. Here is an example of two tyres that are identical diameter but have different wheel diameters, in this case 19- and 17-inch:

19-17

Here’s a diagram showing the difference.  Big rims are known as low profiles, small as high profiles. There is no fixed point at which one becomes the other.

profilesOffroaders prefer small wheels as there’s more tyre between the wheel and the ground, which is why our reader sensibly wants to fit 17-inch rims instead of 20-inch. 

And now, on with the answer.

Our reader is from Queensland, so the site for the definitive answer is that of the Department of Transport and Main Roads. They have this document:

http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/-/media/Safety/Vehicle-standards-and-modifications/Vehicle-standards/Vehicle-standards-instructions/G19.pdf?la=en

That document describes light-vehicle modifications. It contains this text:

“The overall diameter of any tyre fitted to:

  • a 4WD passenger vehicle specifically designed for off-road use (MC ADR category other than a ‘soft roader’);
  • a 4WD goods vehicle and its 2WD equivalent if the chassis and running gear are essentially the same as the 4WD version (N ADR category); or
  • medium weight goods vehicle (NA2, NB ADR category); must not be more than 50mm larger or 26mm smaller than that of any tyre designated by the vehicle manufacturer for that vehicle. Tyre diameters of a vehicle fitted with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) may be modified without certification provided it is not combined with any other lift (i.e tyre and suspension, tyre and body block, etc). Note: Speedometer accuracy must be maintained for the selected tyre and rim combination.”

There’s nothing in the document which says the tyre needs to be placarded, it just talks about relative size. Given you’re not planning to change the size (we assume), and smaller rims are fitted to the other models, then we cannot see why your Ford dealer objects. Ask them if they have actually read their local road regulations, and show them the document above. In most cases like this, the dealer hasn’t read anything and is relying on a mixture of received wisdom, guesswork and mis-interpretation while hoping the problem goes away and they can get back to less difficult customers who just want their car serviced and not modified.

In fact, that advice goes for everybody who is ever told anything about road laws – ask whoever is making the statement to produce the official documents that support their view. It is frankly amazing how many professionals cannot do so.

We also don’t understand why the dealer would agree that 21-inch wheels can be used if the placard says 20-inch, and apply the same logic to 19-inch wheels.

We do know the brakes are the same size across all three trim levels of Ambiente, Trend and Titanium, so it’s not like smaller rims won’t fit. In fact, we understand rims as small as 16-inch may fit, although we’d recommend 17-inch as a sensible offroading diameter.  Here’s an excerpt from the Everest owners manual showing the recommended wheels/tyres and inflation pressures. It does not specify which tyre goes on which vehicle.

everest-tyresSource: Ford Everest online owner’s manual.

We had speculated that there is a fractionally different stability control programme from model to model for the Everest, given the vehicle kerb weight and wheel/tyre combinations are different. However, we asked Ford and were told the suspension tune is specific to the 20-inch rims, and that is why the placard is unique.

We understand the AdBlue issue was fixed with the latest update to the Everest – check with your dealer. The ATF (auto tranmisson fluid) leak is similarly well known, although not fixable by software!  Don’t let either stop you enjoying the car or your trip, every new vehicle has similar issues.

There is a Ford Everest Facebook group you may be interested in following for more information.

everest

REMEMBER: If you’ve got a question for the Practical Motoring team, then send an email to readerhelp@practicalmotoring.com.au


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!