A guide to buying alloy wheels for commercial vans.
It’s all about style… right?
Well… of course that’s important, but it really does feature a little way down the list when it comes to choosing alloy wheels for your commercial van. Whether it’s for Volkswagen T5/T6 Transporter, Ford Transit, Vauxhall Vivaro, Renault Trafic, or Mercedes Vito, you need to be aware of the key influencers when it comes to wheel choice.
Now, let me start by saying I am not being a killjoy here – if you want to run wheels which do not conform to some of the advice you’re about to read, then crack on (no pun intended – your wheels might crack, get it? ‘Crack on’); but you may fall foul of some of the most common issues with incorrect commercial van wheel choice, and end up paying out for another set, and another set, and another set… Without doubt, running a slammed T5 on Porsche alloy wheels looks seriously badass (and will earn you scene-points galore), but it does not come without pain, suffering, and the nagging fear that at any moment the next pothole will lead to some serious expense!
So, what are the key things to consider when choosing wheels for your commercial van? Well, a lot of the attributes are not too dissimilar to choosing wheels for a passenger car…
Ok, stating the obvious here I know – but the amount of times we receive calls from consumers who have found us (Wheelwright) via the social media profiles or websites of Calibre, DRC, Dotz, AEZ, Dezent etc asking for wheels which are just totally not suitable or available for the vehicle never fails to astound us. First things to consider are Diameter, Width, PCD, Offset and Centre Bore.
We generally offer alloy wheels for commercial vehicles in 16″, 17″, 18″ and 20″ diameters (with a few brave souls going up to 22″!). This is based on the size of wheel & tyre combination the vehicle can accept in the wheel arch. Going for comfort and utilitarianism? Simple, robust solutions in 16″ and 17″ are definitely for you, offering more of a cushioned ride as the tyre profile will be a good size. And with the tyre being the main thing with a bit of ‘give’ between you and the road, if it’s comfort you want on long drives in your campervan, perhaps choosing a smaller (yet stylish) rim solution is for you. The Calibre Highway is a great example of a stylish wheel which features a great range of size options for better comfort, available in 6.5x16″, 7.0x17″ and 8.0x18″.
Choosing a wheel in this size range does allow for comfort, but detracts a little from the style. The ‘sweet spot’ for most van converters and consumers looking to upgrade their van’s looks, is 18″. Eighteens tend to hit the middle ground nicely, filling the arches well, whilst retaining a decent tyre profile. Many of our wheels are destined for motorhomes, which often cover vast distances across the continent, meaning a bit of comfort and a bit of style is a really happy compromise. Running an 18″ wheel with a 235/50/18 or 255/45/18 tyre is a great combination, and our selection of 18″ van alloy wheels really is unrivalled. Check these out:
18″ Commercial Van Alloy Wheels:
In addition to these 18″ designs, some of our most popular packages also come in 20″. Now, this does inevitably detract from the comfort of the ride on the vehicle, but it sure does fill the arches and looks fantastic.
Generally speaking, wheels of this diameter come in a width of 8.0″ or 8.5″ depending on the vehicle they are destined for. You have to admit, this size looks superb! Check out our range of 20″ van wheels:
20″ Commercial Van Alloy Wheels:
PCD – ‘Pretty Cool Design?’ No…
Not quite, we’re not onto choosing a design just yet as there’s still a couple more factors which will influence availability of designs before hand. One of which is of huge importance in the wheel business: PCD, or Pitch Circle Diameter. We have explained this in detail in our ‘Wheel Measurements Technical Guide‘, but in summary this is basically the ‘stud pattern’ of the vehicle hub and is the diameter of an imaginary circle that passes through the centre of each mounting hole.
More common commercial van PCDs include:
• VW Transporter T5/T6: 5x120
• Vauxhall Vivaro: 5x118 (MK1/2), or 5x114.3 (MK3)
• Renault Trafic: 5x118 (MK1), or 5x114.3 (MK2)
• Nissan Primastar: 5x118 (MK1), or 5x114.3 (MK2)
• Ford Transit: 5x160
(The Vivaro/Trafic/Primastar are essentially the same platform).
With this in mind, our van wheels are generally available in this range of PCDs.
ET – phone home?
In the wheel game, ET has nothing to do with a wrinkly old alien, but is the shortened form of Offset. The offset of a wheel is the measurement from a wheels imaginary centre line to the mounting face, and is commonly shown as ET. For most modern vehicles the offset will be positive, which means the mounting face is forward of the centre line, bringing the wheel further under the bodywork of the car (read more…).
Examples of common commercial van offsets include:
• VW Transporter T5/T6: ET45
• Vauxhall Vivaro: ET50
• Renault Trafic: ET50
• Nissan Primastar: ET50
• Ford Transit: ET56 / ET60
Finally, when it comes to fitment, there is one final piece of the jigsaw which is the Centre Bore. This is a simple one and is the diameter of the centre hole in the back of the wheel which slips over the hub. Too small, and the wheel just won’t fit, even if the PCD, Offset, Width and Diameter are suitable. Many companies choose to open bore their wheels, to allow for plastic/metal ‘spiggot rings’ to make the bore smaller for a snug fit over the hub. This is common practice and is very safe. Generally speaking, the centre bore has no structural function other than to help the wheel locate centrally on the hub, as the nuts/bolts are what holds the wheel in place.
Vital Statistic: Load Rating…
So, we’ve found wheels with the right size, PCD, offset, centre bore etc and are ready to make a decision based on style, right? No… there is one HUGE factor which really is the difference between buying car and van wheels. Load Rating. Load Rating. Load Rating. We cannot emphasise this enough: Load Rating is of vital importance. Obviously, vans weigh more than passenger cars (duh), and they often carry serious loads – whether they are empty, full with trade supplies, or converted into a motorhome, the wheels must be up to the test (thankfully, we will never recommend wheels without a suitable load rating for their target vehicle!).
The load rating of a wheel, as determined by the wheel manufacturer, should not be exceeded under any circumstances. We test and identify a wheel’s maximum load rating to ensure they are up to the weight of the vehicle and the stresses and strains this can put on the wheel when under rotation or impact.
Wheel load rating requirements are determined by dividing the vehicle’s heaviest gross axle weight rating by two. The axle weight rating for most vehicles is shown on the identification label located on the driver’s side door jam, petrol filler flap, boot lid or in the glove box. In the example of a Volkswagen T5 (found on the engine bay bulkhead just above the air filter), the front axle weight is indicated as 1600Kg and the rear axle weight is 1630Kg. So, to do the calculation, we take the highest axle weight (usually the rear) in this case 1630Kg. We then have to divide it by 2, to get: 815Kg. Therefore, in order to be safe and on the correct side of the law, the wheels and tyres need to be weight rated to a minimum weight of 815Kg per corner (which, of course, our van rated wheels are).
Stick to this vital rule and you’ll be fine. Choosing wheels without a suitable load rating, however, opens up the scope for bent wheels (from pothole damage, kerbing, etc); and, more concerning, could endanger passenger’s lives. All of the wheels shown in this article are suitably load rated for their target vehicles. Once you pair a load rated wheel with a suitably load rated tyre (generally speaking you’ll be looking for a 101-106XL tyre), you’re well on your way to an alloy wheel choice which will give you both style and longevity.
Good to go!
Now we’ve got the size right, the fitment right and the load rating right, it’s time to choose a style which suits – and as you have seen in this article, there’s plenty to choose from, 5-spokes, cross wires, solid finishes, polished finishes, modern, contemporary, simple, complex – the choice really is yours. You can see a fantastic range of commercial vans in our customer galleries and across our social media platforms. As always, our team is on hand to help every step of the way when choosing alloy wheels for your commercial van, so please ask your retailer to get in touch with any queries.