CC Outtake: Nissan NV200 – Most Under-Tired Vehicle Today? And a Warning If You’re Thinking About Getting One Regarding the Tires

In this time of giant wheels and tires, this Nissan NV200 van really stands out. I had vaguely noticed that they looked a bit like they had tiny feet, but the other day I was in traffic next to one, and it really hit me: these wheels and tires look minute. So I had to go home and look up the size. Yes, they are small.

But there’s more than (barely) meets the eye. Turns out these tires are also expensive at replacement time. And that’s causing lots of grief with its owners.

P185/60R15 is the size. That’s the original size on my Scion xB, which also leans to looking a bit small-footed. And I’ve actually increased the size slightly on mine to 185/65R15, to get a bit more sidewall for a wee bit smoother ride, as well as a wee bit (3%) reduction in highway rpm.

The NV200 has a listed curb weight of 3,260 lbs, maximum payload of of 1,480 lbs, for a GVWR of 4,751. Almost 5,000 lbs on those little licorice Life Savers. Hmm. I assume that’s well within the max load ratings of those tires.

Or is it? The load ratings of all the P185/60R15 tires that pop on a search says that they all have a load index of 84, which equals 1,102 lbs. That can’t be right. So I did some more searching and finally found an Owner’s Manual that has this in it:

That explains it. But will most folks replacing their tires know or remember this? Nissan even suggests that this may happen, and notes that maximum payload will be reduced. Are these special load index 94 tires easy to find?

No! Turns out they’re only available at Nissan dealers for $171 (!) a piece! And that’s only because the dealers are gouging, as these are not actually expensive tires.  The folks at the are none too happy. The problem is that the tire shops won’t mount a larger size, as per their policy (I had to sign a waiver to get my 185/65s mounted, and that was only because the circumference was no more than 3% off from factory specs. About the only way around it is to buy larger 205/65RT15s mounted on wheels from Tire Rack, and then self-mount. Or find a small local shop willing to do so.

Update: That was a year or two ago. Tire Rack now carries a Continental 185/60R15 with a 94/92T load index, priced at $112 each. Plus shipping and mounting, of course. That’s still twice what 205/65R15s go for.

Well, I kind of wondered about those mini-donuts, but I didn’t think it was that much of an issue. So why doesn’t Nissan just mount regular 205/65R15s, that have a load rating of 1400 lbs? They’d be cheaper to replace and sure look a lot better too.