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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.

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:


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:

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.


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Find the best demonstrator car deals for Practical Motoring readers around Australia on our Live Deals website. 


  1. trackdaze
    October 11, 2016 at 11:39 am — Reply

    At time of purchase had you asked for lower grade rims to be fitted fair chance they wouldnt have blinked.

    • October 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm — Reply

      Yes it’s amazing how motivated they can be to make a sale 🙂

  2. sousuke
    October 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm — Reply

    trackdaze i just ask this same question to the dealer and was told its a suspension tuning thing in regards to 20″ rims for the titanium. This one would not fit the 18″ from the trend to make the sale. I just walked over to toyota next door 🙂

  3. Everest++
    October 12, 2016 at 1:02 pm — Reply

    I’m curious on Ford’s response to the placard issue. It would appear that the Everest has been approved with all 3 sets of tyre/wheel combinations for all the models. See the RVCS entry for the Everest:
    The non-placarded sets are approved options for each model. Does that mean they re-tune the suspension if you order one of the optional sets? Would also like to understand what they would actually change in the suspension tune given the wheel diameter and offset are identical across the options…

    Another thing to note is that the Everest has been classified as MA (Passenger vehicle) NOT MC (off-road vehicle) in the approval process. This affects the interpretation of the allowed modifications I think, but would value an expert opinion.

    • October 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm — Reply

      The RVCS data doesn’t show which wheels match which trim level.

      I strongly suspect the only difference is marginally different damper (shock) rates, and that the coils are exactly the same. It is possible there is different alignment, swaybars etc.

      MA vs MC – great pickup!!!! The major concern there is that MC vehicles have an exemption for tyre speed ratings down to N (140km/h) so light-truck mud terrain tyres can be fitted. If the car is MA I’m not sure that applies. Back to Ford I go for clarification….

      • Everest++
        October 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm — Reply

        OK, very interested to hear why Ford certified it as MA! I think the other impact would be that the maximum increase in wheel diameter is 15mm rather than 50mm as per the Qld reference you cite above, (but that my vary from state to state): “Please Note: The above mentioned maximum tyre diameter tyre increase is for 4WD off-road vehicles. A passenger car or passenger car derivatives must not increase their tyre diameter by more than 15mm.”

        Looking at the RVCS data, the table with tyre and rim data has the matching of tyres to model variants in the right hand side with “SB” being the standard tyre and “OB” being the optional tyres I think. Variant 1 is the Ambiente, 2 the Trend and 3 the Titanium, 4 the RWD Ambiente and 5 the RWD Trend (the new models).

        • October 14, 2016 at 7:26 pm — Reply

          I talked to Ford. Stand by for a blog post…..

  4. SgtCarlMc
    October 23, 2016 at 8:51 pm — Reply

    I wouldn’t much worry about it, since it’s not a 4WD anymore, you go modifying a passenger vehicle to go out in 4WD country and have an accident doing 4WD treks or challengers, when the Everest is a MA, good luck in trying to convince Insurance Company that it’s a MC

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper