new tires: matched costco price & hub-centric wheels

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Posted by Gary in SoCal ( on 14:29:14 08/26/07

Time to replace the tires on the '95 K2500 Sub. Replacing Michelin LTX M/S 265/75RR16 load range E tires, bought last time at Costco.

I know about Costco's present policy about only fitting OEM size (or OEM approved alternate size) tires on a vehicle. But I went to the local Costco to get a price for unmounted tires. Costco quoted $189.99 unmounted. They also have a temporary $80 discount through Sept 3(?) when buying 4 Michelin tires. For me, a cash and carry transaction for tires mounted elsewhere isn't worth the $80 savings. Especially since the "Big O Tires" web page has the same $189.99 price, and there won't be any warrantee or service issues later.

I would also consider the comparable Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo which has gotten good reviews here but haven't found it in local retail inventory.

Living in southern California, is not a great alternative. While they sell the LTX M/S for $195 (and I avoid sales and excise taxes) the UPS ground shipping from the Tire Rack warehouse in Reno, NV adds a whopping 13.1%, $93.88!

Anyway, I digress...
The Costco counter man brought up another (new?) Costco policy concerning aftermarket wheels: even if the customer buys OEM size tires, Costco will only mount them on OEM wheels or "hub-centric" aftermarket wheels.

He made the distinction between "hub-centric" and "lug-centric" wheels. I found these definitions with some web searching...

hub-centric wheels: The wheel center bore hole matches the vehicle hub diameter. Load bearing is on the vehicle hubs, not the wheel lugs.

lug-centric wheels: The wheel's center bore hole is greater than vehicle hub diameter. The wheel is centered on the hub by the wheel lugs. The lugs hold the wheel to the hub and perform load bearing.

When a lug-centric wheel/tire combination is balanced off the vehicle, there will probably be some imbalance when on the vehicle caused by lug/wheel clearance, manufacturing tolerances etc. I imagine the degree of imbalance is small as we've been living with it for years.

My worn tires are presently mounted on a set of American Racing aluminum wheels. Until I pull a wheel I can't tell with certainty, but I gotta guess these wheels are lug-centric. Seems like wheel manufacturers would rather sell a universal 8 x 6.5" wheel for Chevy/GMC/Ford/Dodge 3/4-ton and 1-ton applications, without bothering about hub diameter differences from make to make.

The load bearing aspect troubles me; I tow a heavy triple-axle trailer from time to time. A quick Google search reveals there may be "hub-centric rings" available to mitigate lug-centric wheel problems. Some web pages suggest that wheel manufacturers now offer some hub-centric wheels in response to market demand, but I'm not buying new wheels.

The American Racing "knowledge base" defines "hub centric ring" as a *nylon* insert for the center bore of the wheel that keeps the wheel concentric to the vehicle's hub during installation. Okay, a nylon ring addresses concentric mounting but does nothing about load bearing by the wheel lugs. Numerous web pages clearly show machined steel rings, not nylon, but it's probably another can of worms finding the right part for a given wheel and hub.

If nothing better is found, I will probably go with the Michelins bought at "Big O". The main Big O web site also said that my closest Big O store cannot mount/balance the larger light truck tires. Choosing a larger store location, I was able to print a store-specific $189.99 quotation. It will be interesting if that's their walk-in retail price as well.

Sorry if this is a re-hash of a topic previously covered on a prior incarnation of this forum. A search here didn't find any hits.

1995 K2500 (7.4L 4:10 diff)

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