By on November 5, 2014
0821141123

Curb Appeal? (photo courtesy: Greg)

Greg writes:

Hello Sajeev, David Holzman says I should write to you about my Mazda concerns.

1. Concern #1. In two out of three dealers there was significant rust at the center of the wheels due to the wheel caps not having been put on. I only took three pictures, but essentially: at New Country Mazda in Saratoga Springs NY 100% of the Mazdas had no wheelcaps on in the lot and were all showing various degrees of rust. That includes the one in the showroom, you can see it in the pic with the tile floor.

I only took three pictures, I wasn’t intending to do a 60 minutes expose. The other two pictures were taken at Orange Motors in Albany NY. At Orange Motors about 40% of the cars had no wheel caps. One had light rust and the other shows advanced penetration of the surface–not quite sure what we’re looking at, an axle nut and lug of some sort maybe–but this is rust that won’t wipe off, on a 2015 Mazda 6, and I don’t have anything comparable on my 2004 Corolla. Yes, I know that brakes get rusty–I see what’s going on every time I change my tires in the winter and spring–but I just don’t have anything like this.

I contacted Mazda North America with the pictures but they are extremely non-committal. I find it odd that a car company would be happy with dealers’ not installing wheel caps and showing rust on the show room floor. But that’s just me.

So the question: should this issue be a deterrent to purchasing a Mazda 6?

2. Concern #2. While I was talking to the Mazda North America “marketing experience” rep (the title was something like that) I indicated that I was having a hard time getting a dealer to commit to the idea of selling me the intermediate trim level Mazda 6 (the Touring) with 17″ alloy rims instead of 19″. The reason I am concerned is that currently tirerack.com is showing only two available tires for the Mazda 6. I would prefer series 55 to series 45 tires in order to have increased protection from the abundant pot holes in my area. But the OEM default for the Touring and Grand Touring is series 45. Not only are the series 45 tires less protective, they increase road noise and all seem to have low 200 to 300 tread wear ratings. But if you have series 55 tires you have about two dozen different choices, with a wide range of prices as well as considerable choice in speed and wear ratings.

One dealer indicated that he might be willing to switch the rims and tires from a Sport to a Touring to accommodate my request, but the Mazda North America rep said this was not recommended because of some design differences in the undercarriage between the Touring and Sport models. Is that true? I was not able to get detailed information from the rep who seemed to be more of a marketing person.

This is not just a question about the tires. If I want certain things that seem like a good idea, such as a back up camera, and I really need to stick to the “Sport” trim level to get 17″ rims, then I can’t get a manual transmission and also have the back up camera. So I’m thinking hard about the Accord LX manual, but the lack of a 60/40 split rear seat makes it tough for me, that’s a feature that I need from time to time, and when I need it I really need it.

Anyhow I’m wondering why Mazda is being so coy about 17″ rims on the Touring trim level, and it is also important for me to figure this out because I would like to get some steel rims with snow tires for the winter months. Here the choice of snow tires is also sharply limited in 19″ alloy rims, but 17″ steel is pretty easy to find snow tires for. And of course steel makes more sense for winter use.

Hope that’s not all too complicated.

Thanks,
Greg

Sajeev answers:

Let’s get to it.

Concern 1: Not a concern.  While it is bizarre that Mazdas are displayed sans center caps, that rust is on the hub. Not the wheel, behind the wheel.  Hubs (or brake rotors with integral hubs) are not rustproofed like other items, because these thick metal castings need 100+ rusty years for actual damage.  Just like surface rust on an engine block, it means nothing.

0821141329Not buying a Mazda 6 for this reason is silly.  And let’s hope the rust issues from 5+ years ago are history.

Concern 2: One man can’t make a difference.  No matter the groundswell seen in my inbox and the last few Piston Slaps revealing a sad new Truth About Cars: big wheels and low profile tires are kinda seriously dumb.

Forget about the base model wheels on a higher trimmed model.  And don’t rock the boat, nobody at the factory wants to say anything to make YOU happy that’ll get THEM in hot water.  Until smaller wheels (and bigger sidewalls) become a must-have feature, the bigger ones will continue to boost the profit margins of all manufacturers. (not just Mazda)

Your dealer (or the aftermarket) offers the right move: 17″ wheels with the correct minus sized tire (discussed here) will give you the same circumference and a similar (probably the same) footprint.  The “not recommended because of some design differences in the undercarriage between the Touring and Sport models” is hard to verify without seeing in person (or asking a Mazda PR rep) but I doubt it. Again, see my comment about non-committal statements to save one’s own bacon.

You can’t blame someone for toeing the company line to keep their job…can you? We’ve all been there!

The real question we need to answer is twofold:

  • When will manufacturers abandon tall bodies that need tall wagon wheels and pointless sidewalls?  
  • When will they offer more diverse options for buyers who refuse to be pigeonholed by restrictive trim packages? 

That requires a serious commitment from high level execs for cash (design new cars with old car proportioning) and…well honestly I don’t know who would approve the solution to the latter. Good luck with that.

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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99 Comments on “Piston Slap: Mazda’s Rust and Tire Size Trust Gap?...”


  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    I wonder if the upmodel Mazda has bigger brakes that would prevent the installation of the smaller rims. That should be easy to check.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Regarding the 17″ versus 19″ wheels … On the car with the 19″ wheels, take a look between the spokes at the clearance between the brake caliper and the inside of the wheel. If it’s more than an inch, the smaller wheels should fit.

    On some cars, certain versions/models/trim levels have different brakes which necessitate the larger rims. I don’t know if the current Mazda 6 is like that, but I doubt it.

    There are cases where certain models/versions/trims have different hubs that completely prevent wheel swapping (example: Mk3 VW Golf/Jetta 4-cyl versus VR6 … the 4-cyl had 4-bolt hubs, the 6-cyl had 5-bolt hubs). But this is exceptionally rare and again, although I can’t say it with 100% certainty, I don’t think the Mazda 6 has this situation.

    The Mazda rep isn’t 100% sure, either, and is covering his butt, not wanting to take responsibility for something that is not 100% OEM.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Bare metal parts corrode, fact of life. There are lots of them on the underbody of the average car, and they’re designed with that in mind. No cause for concern.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This is always a concern, “My brand new car is rusting underneath” Where in reality they’ll be digging up rusted drive-shafts a 1000 years from now still intact

    • 0 avatar
      STRATOS

      They really do corrode a lot faster on certain makes .I do not believe its due to coatings. Its the actual quality of the steel.GM in the 70s used to use cheap iron made at a lower temperature to save money.Low or no nickel content at all.Mazda should go to Sweden to see how steel should be made.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        We’re talking about underbody parts here, not body sheet metal where Mazda has traditionally had many issues with corrosion protection. It’s pretty much normal for lot rot to cause surface corrosion on these bare metal parts. A different make vehicle exposed to the same conditions would likely demonstrate the same.

        Many of the under-body components and even the material for the body panels themselves are sourced from suppliers that are not necessarily exclusive to Mazda. Their alloy content isn’t so much the source of the concern as their e-coat and other corrosion protection products and processes used to treat those panels wasn’t quite perfected at the production/assembly level.

        • 0 avatar
          STRATOS

          Rust is big issue here in Ontario.Mazda frames rust out and you cannot certify or resell the car.Goes to the junk yard.It all depends on how long you want to keep your car.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            You can repair bodies and frames that have had corrosion damage and have them certified by a licensed inspection facility witout any trouble at all if the repair looks halfway decent. You can resell a car with corrosion perforations with no problem as well. It just gets sold as unfit and the new owner has to fix it before he can certify it.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Danio,

            While that’s true in theory, it’s not economically viable for a cheap car, especially one where any junkyard parts are also likely to be rusted. That’s compounded by the fact that rusted cars almost always suffer from deferred maintenance.
            A rusted Porsche can be restored, but a rusted Mazda 3 is a gonner.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Believe me, I’m familiar with the economic issues surrounding rusty cars. I was merely refuting his assertion that any car with a rust perforation must the thrown in the crusher.

            As far as the feasibility of patching up a beater goes, any lout with a MIG welder and some 20 gauge sheet metal can get most rusty heaps through a safety inspection without too great an investment.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Very true about the difference in the parts quality. At 3.5 years old, the brake rotor hubs on my BMW have almost no rust, on a car that is driven in Maine in the winter. Fiat, not so much – and that car is NOT driven in the winter.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The Germans use rotors that are coated entirely. The coating rubs off where that pads makes contact, and everything else stays painted. I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t do this.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Greg, from a Mazda owner, the rust on the hub is a 100%, absolutely COSMETIC issue only. I repeat, it has 0% effect on longevity or function (the reason there’s no center cap is b/c dealers now routinely & automaticslly remove them on newly delivered vehicles is thanks to large scale theft of them in the middle of night).

      If you like the 6 overall., do not let this be an issue. It’s literally a non-issue and can be treated cosmetically with a 60 grit and some Krylon paint of your color choice in about 15 minutes.

      As far as wheels, going from a 19″ to a 17″ is trying to go one size too small, IMO.

      Going from a 19″ wheel to an 18″ wheel, or a 18″ wheel to a 17″ is totally fine, and in many cases, has a noticeable impact on improving noise, ride quality, etc.

      I agree that the move to larger wheels and tires, especially on non-super high performance ZOMG cars is STOOPID, but it’s becoming more and more common with each passing year, unfortunately. What are REALLY STOOPID are RUN FLATS.

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        You spelled stoopid wrong. You’re so stewpid.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        Coming from another Mazda owner, I would say to be wary of body rust in the wheel arches and other places water will hide. I would not let it put me off a purchase, but I would watch common rust areas like a damn hawk. My 07 CX9 rusted on the tailgate at the corners of where the license plate lighting assembly meets the body. It did so juuuuust after the corrosion warranty expired at 3.5 years young.
        I hope that they’ve solved these issues, but they don’t have a good history when it comes to beating the rustmonster.
        Also, our Mazda has 20s. I hate them, they’re the worst, they cost a fortune, they’re fragile, they’re noisy as hell once they wear a little, there aren’t many choices and I wish the GT would have come with a more reasonable sized tire. If you can ditch the giant cartoon wheels, I would do so.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I disagree about the runflat tires, at least the current generation. They have come a long way, and are now actually pretty reasonable in price, ride, and longevity, and there is something to be said for having 50-100 miles to deal with a flat. Really my only complaint about the RFTs that came on my car are that as a keen and sensitive driver, I can feel the extra weight. No complaints about the ride or handling otherwise. An average driver would never know the difference.

        What IS stupid is not providing for at least the option of a spare tire for those who live in places where you might be more than 100 miles from a tire shop at times. If I had a wife and kids in a car in the boonies, I would seriously consider them on a car that did not even come with them.

        I see no reason to not use 17s on this car if other trim levels come with 17s.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      Rust may be fact of life but it really sucks when engine works fine but control arm shatters because of rust (2000 KIA). Mazda seems to follow the same rusty path (at least sister’s Protege does). Both vehicle had plenty of rust on painted body panels as well (KIA’s passenger side bottoms being gone altogether).
      Regarding center caps on wheels – I’d have them (re)placed as soon as possible (they can be locked in place using screw if theft was really an issue). Lost cap on my Focus (dealership, tire rotation service, thanks a lot) quite likely resulted in wheel bearing going bad sooner (water and salt will work their way in through any opening).
      And regarding wheel sizes – I feel sorry for all suckers with 17″+ wheels. They will never stop paying them off – replacement needed before the car is paid off (with price already inflated by the original set), replacement is expensive as f…, wide tires suck on wet or snow, low profiles suck on bumpy roads (=most of roads), shops charge more for installing low profile tires etc. Myself I’m stuck with 16″ (wish I had steel rims) but at least I’ve bumped them up from 50 to 55, noticeable improvement (and with bearings replaced it’s like a new car).

  • avatar
    mikey

    If that is the only rust issue you have with a Mazda, count yourself as lucky. Its too bad, because Mazda has some nice looking cars.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Yes. Mazda is the most rusty car I ever had but…
      Ok, may be in PA climate it does better than in Minnesota.
      3 years after purchase I was looking under my Protege and I said, “man oh man, this car will fall apart in 3 years”. right now it is 17 years old and runs fine. Yes – suspension is very rusty and I had to replace 2 out of 4 pieces of exhaust (check this! – muffler is original). Rear wheel wells are rusting now too. But it really didn’t affect much. I don’t even expect it to make another year, although, again, it runs fine. It has 195K on odo. The oil is seeping now all over.

      While my son drives that car, I have 2011 Mazda 3. And I have 2009 Toyota. There is a striking difference under the car. Older Toyota is almost 6 years but looks pristine under. Newer Mazda looks noticeably worse. However, my previous experience suggests that it may be just doesn’t matter. It is more psychological issue than anything else.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    No center caps? Bizarre. Seriously.

    That exposed hub looks like hell.

    If I buy a new car from you, you’re putting center caps on the wheels. Period. Otherwise, see ya. lol

    Hearing the older generations talk about purchasing their cars, I seem to get the impression that it was easier to purchase a vehicle brand new with the options you wanted. Or even special ordering.

    You just don’t hear about special ordering much anymore. A pity.

    Unless your flying out to the MB Plant in Germany and spending half a mill, et cetera. I hear Mercedes will let you order a car with pretty much anything you want.

    Same with Bentley.

    But why not for us working folks?! Grrrrrrr

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Because they don’t have to, and because of economies of scale, and because of more standardized global autowerks.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Because you won’t pay for it. Someone dropping $80k on a car will.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The best you can get in terms of custom ordering from a mainstream brand will probably be from Ford. You still have to stick to packages and available options though. You can build a Fusion, Mustang, or whatever online, print the options list out, and bring it to a dealership. They’ll order it. Some don’t charge a deposit.

      I haven’t had the same luck trying to order a VW, Mazda, or GM product.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I ordered my MKV GTI with no problem. I did the exact same thing. It doesn’t make sense now because VW has moved more to a trim line setup, but back then everything was option based.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I went to 4 VW dealers trying to order an MKV GTI. One dealer that I have purchased two vehicles from prior as well. No one would take my money.

          I ended up buying the a GTI after I moved to AZ from MI because a dealer in Phoenix had what I wanted. A dealership in Tucson had what I wanted too, but they were selling all GTIs at MSRP +$500. Might as well drive another two hours after driving 40.

          Part of that may just be becuase VW dealers in Metro Detroit are terrible.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            That is crazy. I called the 5 nearest VW dealers, told them exactly what I wanted, told them that I knew that there wasn’t one like it in the US, and asked what the best price was that they could give me to order it. 1 never got back to me, 3 told me MSRP, and the last ordered it for $24575 (MSRP was $264xx). 4 months later, I picked it up exactly as ordered.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This choice is very evident when you go to shop used Flex models. Hard to find two alike.

      • 0 avatar
        st1100boy

        Big fan of ordering here. I’ve ordered a Focus and a pair of Mustangs successfully, as well as a GMC Terrain. The wife will probably order an Edge or an Explorer next year. We had small ($100) or no deposits at all.

        The first Mustang took too long to be delivered, so I actually canceled the order and got my money back. Sure enough, the car came in the next day.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I bet stocking cars on the lot and showroom sans center caps is simply loss prevention. After a dealer goes through a hundred center caps, they probably just say screw it, take them off and just install them when we sell the car. But it doesn’t look great in the meantime.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Almost all European brands offer European delivery programs. These (usually) allow more flexibility in configuring your car. You still need to stick to EPA-certified powertrains, but you are no longer forced to combine certain options.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      “If I buy a new car from you, you’re putting center caps on the wheels. Period. Otherwise, see ya. lol”

      The car comes with center caps, the dealer just didn’t install them yet.

  • avatar
    marmot

    When you get your new Mazda home, remove the wheels, lightly brush any rusty areas with a stainless steel brush, then spray with Krylon flat black rust inhibiting paint. Three coats.

  • avatar
    Feds

    If there are differences, it is most likely to be the brakes (as posted above) or the tuning of the spring/damper (to deal with the heavier wheel assembly).

    The easiest way to find out is to spend some time with your dealer’s parts guy looking at strut part numbers for sport vs a touring. Different part numbers = different tuning.

    The question then becomes: So what? Cars are designed to work acceptably well in a wide variety of conditions. Think about one of those spider graphs: Certain level of noise, comfort, responsiveness, fuel economy, etc. If you modify a car, you’re changing how it works in some of those areas. If you’re happy with the result, then that’s why we modify cars. Specifically, will a softer tire combined with the stiffer shock change the limit-state handling of your car? Probably. Will you ever approach the limit-state handling of your car? Probably not.

    You’re trading off something (maybe handling, maybe just looks) to get better ride, cheaper running costs, better fuel economy, etc. Sounds like a good tradeoff to me, and if the compromises better fit your expectations of your car, well, you’re free enough to do it.

    What you could do to minimize your outlay is troll the Mazda web forums and find some 3/5/6/cx-5 owner whose car came with alloy 17’s and trade them for your 18’s +/- the value of the wear on their tires.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Until just now, I always though the phrase was “tow the line.” It made sense to me that you had standards enforced on you, and you were “towing” or dragging them along with you.

    Funny how I had never seen it as printed words in my life.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Is it really a coincidence that the “big wheel tiny sidewall” trend goes hand-in-hand with the overall decline in sedan sales?

    It seems like one of the main reasons for getting an SUV is that they “go over bumps better.”
    You’d think that at least one brand would capitalize on this and offer a smooth-riding family sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      You make most best comment!

      You know those Alaskan bush pilots and their tundra tires?

      THAT’S what I want on my cars!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You also sit higher in an SUV, and until recently, they had squarish windows all around for better visibility. A sedan with smaller wheels alone won’t sell.

      There has to be a visibility component too. That’s fast disappearing in SUVs, with up-swept belt lines and down-sloping roofs, and car makers probably haven’t got a clue that they’re removing the features that make them popular.

      GM is behind the curve and still making square boxes like the Equinox, but their new Trax is following the herd.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        It’s the enforced passivity that makes me furious. I cherish tall, square rooflines that permit great visibility (and load space) but as you say the industry just keeps blithely wiping them out.

        Soon I’ll have no choice but to buy a Patriot and accept the consequences. I’m being radicalized.

  • avatar
    reluctantcommuter

    I’m in the same tire size boat but further down the road. I bought a Mazda 6 Gran Touring last May, and now it is time for me to get new tires. While the ride is reasonable for our roads here in Texas the price and tread life of tires I’ve found in the 19″ size are not inspiring financial confidence. I’m seriously considering downgrading to an aftermarket 17″ wheel so I can use tires that are longer wearing, cheaper, and more comfortable. Seems like a no brainer. Looks like depending on tire longevity I could have $500 in the bank by 120000 mi.

    I’ve got loads of room around my brakes so I doubt they have been upgraded from the lower trim levels.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I have 225/45-17 on my FR-S. It has a slightly taller sidewall than the stock 215/45. It is the exact same sidewall height as the 19″ wheel on the 6 (225/45-19). This is not an overly aggressive sidewall at all, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      10 years ago when this dubs idiocy started, a 300C rolling on them had 4 1/3″ of rubber. 225/45s are down to four inches flat.

      On your little sports car with 1500 pounds on the front end, sure.

      A (relatively) big, 60/40 family car slamming those bumps with 2000 lbs up front? No way.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Living in Pothole City Michigan, I can appreciate your concerns about having more sidewall to absorb impacts. In buying cars, I do take that into consideration and generally if I feel that the smaller rim and more rubber option still looks good, I usually go for it. I own a 2014 Mazda6 Touring. It may be just me, but the larger rims really do make the car look that much better than the standard rims so I was happy to have them even though in all likelihood I will have some damage to them over the years. I am sure you could find a dealer to swap them out if it is that important to the sale because I bet there are people who want the Sport trim and say “if it only had 19 inch rims” In any event, OEM rims wont sit around for long in dealer inventory so it shouldn’t be too big a hurdle.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    A 225/45-19 isn’t that aggressive of a sidewall. That is what I’m running on my FR-S on 17″ wheels which is considered super tame compared to the guys running 18″ and 19″ wheels (while keeping the tire diameter the same). The 6 just has big rollers in general.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The center caps are sitting in a plastic bag back in the cargo area, and the dealership has a very lazy detail/dealer prep guy.

    Mazda put some oddball-size 19s on the CX-5 that are proving to be kind of a pain to replace, but this is the 6, not the CX-5. I looked on Tire Rack and found 19 different tires sold in 225/45-19, the size needed, not just 2 (thought that sounded fishy). That’s a fine selection.

    Are wheels too big now? Yeah, probably. That said, there is no way to guarantee that it will be OK to drive through that puddle of unknown depth and shape at 45 mph because you don’t feel like hitting the brakes or are fooling with a smartphone. I have 2 cars – one with 45-series tires and one with 40-series tires. The one with 45s also has a set of 55s for winter, and I have not damaged a wheel or tire on either car in 11 years and over 150,000 miles of driving, and I live in the pothole-strewn Buffalo, NY area.

    Since this owner states he will be buying dedicated winter tires in a higher profile size, I think it’s OK to just take the wheels and tires that come on the car for 3-season use. The larger concern for me, with recent Mazdas, is the model of tire they put on (crappy Bridgestones), not the size.

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      I think you get different results searching by size vs by year/make/model/trim.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        Yes, Tire Rack is probably filtering make/model results by speed and load ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I get the same result searching on Touring or Grand Touring, which are the only models that come with that size tire. I don’t know where he got just 2 models of tire…if he hit the button to show OEM tire only, he got 1 model, and to show all gives 21 – minus the 2 that are winter-only, leaves 19.

        Kind of surprised that no one else here questioned that he found only 2 tires for this car on Tire Rack. I mean if the beef is that cars all come with these big wheels and tires nowadays, wouldn’t you expect to find…a lot of big replacement tires available for them? Yes. And there are.

        • 0 avatar
          DubTee1480

          Aside from the possibility that the OP selected the option to only see OEM tires (or something) the only other thing I can think to suggest is if Tire Rack goes by tire manufacturer suggestions maybe at the time of his search there weren’t as many tires cleared for use on this model. I frankly have no idea if Tire Rack uses this method but a auto parts store I once worked at did and sometimes a year model with no changes from the previous year would not have any/many parts listing as fitting it until the suppliers updated us with new application guides. I know at one point there was a long lag time between when a submission was made to Piston Slap and when it would be published. Maybe that’s what is at work here.

  • avatar
    redav

    I ran into the same issue with the wheels on my recently purchased car. It came with 18s, but the lower trim had 16s. I didn’t want the smaller sidewalls, the heavier weight, etc. The dealership was unwilling to swap them out. So, I just bought a set of wheels off tirerack and intend to sell the OEM wheels through a forum community or ebay. Since people still prefer the larger wheels, there should always be a market for them.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    You’re overly concerned about rust and determined to have a non-sporting wheel/tire combo. You don’t actually want a Mazda.

  • avatar
    dwbf11

    2015 Mazda6 GT owner checking in, in case original poster is still reading.

    The 19’s are fine. No pothole damage thus far in 3000+ miles on Michigan’s finest thoroughfares. The OE tires (Dunlop SP Sport 5000) are a bit noisy but with a 340 tread rating should get sufficient life out of them on 3-season duty. And even on the 19’s the ride is euro-firm, if not plush, and it handles our cratered roads just fine. For winter I picked up a set of Mazdaspeed 3 wheels (the 18×7.5″ ones) from the last generation and some 225/50/18 Blizzaks. Never heard anything about “undercarriage differences” either, for what it’s worth, but that seems like a question ripe for the forums.

    Like you I also tried to cajole the dealer into swapping for a smaller size at the time of sale but had no luck. I’m happy I didn’t though, the 17’s are very undersized the more I see them in the wild on the rental spec Sport models.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If you could actually figure out who is buying Mazda’s in your city you could swap wheels with someone who bought a base model. Or go buy a tire package on Tire Rack and put your 19 in wheels/tires on Craigslist.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Exactly. I am sure that someone somewhere ran into pothole and damaged a wheel or two. And will be happy to buy almost new wheel $50 cheaper than from dealer. On ebay even. You don’t have to sell them together. May be it will take 2 years to sell by one but it will.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’m in a similar pickle with Mazda. I’d love to buy a CX-5 Sport Manual, but someone at Mazda has decreed that if one wants a clutch, one only gets to choose from 3 shades of gray, and the Bluetooth package is not available.

    Oh well. Mazda won’t live and die over losing one sale to one guy who wants a blue CX-5 manual, so they surely don’t need to care what I’d like.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Yep, it’s their price leader.

      If you’re looking for a manual trans SUV/CUV, Jeep may be able to help you out. Other than that, the pickings are mighty slim.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Aside from the Wrangler (in a completely different category, IMO) the only Jeeps left with a clutch are the dead-on-the-vine Patriot/Compass cousins, which rot on the lots until the Renegade comes out. The Renegade-with-a-clutch will only come with 1.4T FIAT engines.

        The rest of the pickings are the horrible, yet outdated VW Tiguan (which no dealer actually stocks with a clutch), The ever-horrible Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and…

        The Subaru Forester, which still can be had with a clutch, in any color, and virtually any trim level, that one wants.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      I’ll join you eggsalad and would love a CX-5 in blue with a light (i.e., tan) interior. I’m too old to care about Bluetooth – just need an AM/FM radio.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It’s interesting that people completely dismiss concerns about rusty hubs on cars with alloy wheels. I’ve seen it on two of the cars I’ve had the misfortune of changing tires on. The problem is that it leads to galvanic corrosion and wheels that weld themselves to the hubs. I’ve only seen it on German cars. It didn’t happen to my ’88 BMW until it had spent a winter or two on steel wheels with no center caps. The following winter, the standard alloys wouldn’t come off without extraordinary amounts of force, and that was the case for the rest of the time I owned the car. The other time I’ve seen this was on a 2012 Audi. It never had steel wheels or missing caps. After one skiing trip outside of San Diego, a flat tire revealed that a rear wheel had welded itself to the car. It isn’t the end of the world, but it is an irritation when it takes more force to remove a wheel than the jack supplied with the car can sustain. I also haven’t seen this issue with the highest quality cars.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      If you want to prevent this, clean the hub and the corresponding portion of the wheel with some scotch-brite and put some anti-seize on the hubs.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Same here. My worst wheel seizing on my Mazda occurred with my winter steelies. It was a seasonal change with a real jack so the forces were no issue there, but I was simply unable to kick the things loose, even with a donkey kick which has always worked on everything else I’ve tried. I had to leave the lug nuts a little loose and do some aggressive low speed slaloming to get them to break free. Since then, I’ve cleaned off the inner lip and coated it with anti-seize before each seasonal wheel change.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It’s interesting that people completely dismiss concerns about rusty hubs on cars with alloy wheels. I’ve seen it on two of the cars I’ve had the misfortune of changing tires on. The problem is that it leads to galvanic corrosion and wheels that weld themselves to the hubs. I’ve only seen it on German cars. It didn’t happen to my ’88 BMW until it had spent a winter or two on steel wheels with no center caps. The following winter, the standard alloys wouldn’t come off without extraordinary amounts of force, and that was the case for the rest of the time I owned the car. The other time I’ve seen this was on a 2012 Audi. It never had steel wheels or missing caps. After one skiing trip outs!de of San Diego, a flat tire revealed that a rear wheel had welded itself to the car. It isn’t the end of the world, but it is an irritation when it takes more force to remove a wheel than the jack supplied with the car can sustain. I also haven’t seen this issue with the highest quality cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      I use Never-Seez on all my hubs/wheels. I can’t imagine having a wheel weld itself to the hub once, then have it recur “for the rest of the time I owned the car” rather than just take 30 seconds a wheel to use a rust preventive. This is a connection that is exposed to moisture and road salt, which HAS to be broken from time to time in order to rotate/mount tires.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This is probably due to the Germans using extremely tight hub-centric wheels, while many other makes locate the wheels via the lugnuts only. Doesn’t take much corrosion to make it hard to get the wheels off. BTDT – Volvos are horrible for it too.

      The secret is a generous application of anti-seize.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    When I read this:
    “… If I want certain things …, such as a back up camera, and I really need to stick to the “Sport” trim level to get 17″ rims, then I can’t get a manual transmission and also have the back up camera.

    So I’m thinking hard about the Accord LX manual, but the lack of a 60/40 split rear seat makes it tough for me…”

    I am exactly in the same situation. I think alike. I will not buy LX because of 60/40 and will not buy EX because it has sunroof.

    Dear Honda – believe me – I will buy a car that has 60/40 and no sunroof. It is will not be Honda though. Your loss.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Dear Slavic,

      Don’t use the sunroof if you don’t want it.

      Honda USA

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I don’t want to pay $1000 for it – this is how much it cost

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        For those of us with long torsos, the headroom the sunroof robs is a major issue.

        In my case, BMW is going to lose $4K on my next purchase because you can’t get a 228i with the Premium Package but without a sunroof. To I will save the $4K.

        • 0 avatar

          I also have a long torso, and have had to avoid sunroofs.

          Greg ultimately bought the Honda, and is quite happy with it.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          If you want to a lot spend more, I saw a manual M235i with sunroof delete. I was in shock. It had to be a custom order awaiting delivery. Either that or BMWNA was punishing that particular dealer.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Not unusual at all on M235i’s. Pretty popular option on them, which is why it irks me so much that they don’t offer the same on the 228i.

            It’s a no cost option to NOT have the sunroof, though it is standard on the M235i. Sunroof is part of the Premium Package on the 228i, but while you can get a sunroof without the Premium Pack on one as a $1200 stand-alone option, you can’t get the Premium Pack without a sunroof. Stupid! Hoping they fix this before I order mine.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            @krhodes1

            Doubling down on the headroom issue, BMW packages power seats in the premium package. Power seats can’t always be lowered as far as manual seats, as they need room for the motors.

            Any must haves on the premium package? It looks like the only items in the package that can’t be ordered separately are:
            *auto-dimming mirrors
            *comfort access
            *satellite radio
            *UGDO
            *ambiance lighting
            *lumbar support

            Based on your comments here, it would surprise me if you absolutely had to have any of these. I say skip the premium pack and order leather as a standalone (if you want the coral or terra interiors). Then you can skip the sunroof and possibly gain even more headroom by sticking with manual seats. Or maybe the manual seats drop low enough to let you enjoy the sunroof.

            Certainly verify with forums, but many moons ago BMW would often use the same wiring harness on every car, with the options added like lego blocks. The auto-dimming mirrors, UGDO, and ambiance lighting could be an easy retrofit. Comfort access and lumbar support could be a bit of trouble though.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I actually want everything but the power seats and the sunroof. And the power seats are not a deal-breaker. Losing the sunroof gives me enough room to wear a helmet so I can autocross the thing. I have the Premium package and Comfort Access in my 328i wagon and like all of those features.

            I’m really annoyed by BMWs limiting of configurations with the new cars compared to what I was able to do on my ’11. For example, I would really like to get the Oyster vinyl interior, but the only way to do that is to get a “no-line” 228i. You can get MOST of the good parts of the Sport Package by getting the Track Handling Package, but not the sport seats. Similarly, Comfort Access is no longer a stand alone option, nor is Sat radio. I am really hoping they adjust some of this by the time I am ready to order one, which might be next Spring, but more likely Spring ’16. But if the LCI ends up being in ’17, I might wait until then. I am enjoying my Fiat Abarth, which this would replace, so no rush.

            At this point, I probably would just order a no-line car with manny-tranny, THP and cold weather and call it a day. As you said, some of it can be added back in. I added almost all the features back into my e91 that BMW cut out in the LCI. Could probably get that config Euro Delivery for just over $30K. BMW loses $5K+ by being inflexible.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      My last car that didn’t have 60/40 was a 1987 Dodge Lancer, probably because it was a Hatchback. Why Honda doesn’t add less than $50 to make 60/40 standard is dumb.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Tiresize and rust are typical Mazda issues. If you don’t like them buy a different car. Check how much a new set of those19″ will cost and how long they will ladt and how bad they ride in snow and bad roads compred to 17″

    If you don’t like RWD, dont buy a BMW and complain about RWD. Same with thesr issues and Mazda.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    I was looking at a 2010 Mazda 3 trade-in, second generation 3, and there was already rust forming on the hatchback and trunk. I’d never recommend buying a Mazda if you live in a rust-prone area, they seem to be the worst vehicles on our market for them. Especially 3, 5 and 6.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Even 16″ wheels will clear the brakes on that car. Tire Rack has 170 different 16″ wheel options that will fit. 19″ wheels are simply ridiculous over such modest brakes.

    Surely a dealer will swap them if that’s what it takes to make the sale. Maybe this is a common request and they’re being flooded with 19″ wheels that nobody wants.

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