Audi/Porsche/VW Wheels on a Sprinter DIY

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
It seems there are tons of threads discussing what other wheel options we have for our vans, but of the three listed in the title (Audi, Porsche and VW) none of them are "plug and play". They all have to be machined. The wheels are easy to find on Craigslist with *close to* the required ratings on the tires (I won't go into that right now. There are tons of threads discussing this- you make up your own mind). Needless to say, for 18" wheels the tires have to be 255/55/18. I experienced a small rubbing and had to trim the front bumper with those tires, so I wouldn't go any bigger.
It really burned me up that I only paid $400 for these barely used tires and wheels and then had to shell out around $250 to get them machined to fit my van. So I came up with a plan...
Grinders just didn't work (I briefly tried) and with a handheld drill, there was no way to keep everying clean and round. I went to Lowe's and was looking through the tool section when my eyes fell on the hole saws. Yes, the kind you get to drill a hole in the front door of your house to install a lock. If you look at the packages, you will see that *some* are also designed to cut metal. :thumbup: So I borrowed a salesperson's tape measure and ran out to measure the lip on the van. It came out to 3 3/8" (86mm) OD. They didn't have that size saw, but they did have the next one larger and smaller, so I got those- 3 1/2 and 3 1/4 (89 and 83mm I think).
My drill press didn't have a long enough reach to use with the tires, so I had to do it all by hand.
First I used a 3" hole saw to cut a plug out of a 2x4 that I then sanded down so I could hammer it into the middle of the hole in the wheel. That gave me a guide for the pilot drill to keep everything straight. I ended up removing the pilot drill in the middle of the hole saw and replaced it with a long straight rod so it wouldn't constantly be making the pilot hole bigger every time I used it.
Then I got to work. I started with the 3 1/4 (83mm) saw, hoping that there would be enough "wiggle" in the saw that it would end up being big enough, but it wasn't, so I had to use the 3 1/2 (89mm). Then I realized that there was still a lip on the far inside, nearest the plug, so I used the 3" (77mm) saw to take care of that. The saws cut through the alloy very quickly and easily, especially with the guide plug to hold everything in one spot. I'm glad I did the 3" saw last, because it cut away at the plug and made it wobble some in the hole.
For depth, I had read here on the list that 1/4" was enough, but I wasn't happy with that, so I went to a depth of 3/8". Slight difference, but it made me feel better. I made sure I measured at multiple points around the circumference, because with a hand drill, I could not get a perfectly level cut.
After this, I still had some very thin ridges between the three holes I had cut. Fortunately for me, I had the forsight to *just in case* buy a pack of 3" cut off/grinding wheels there at Lowes. The 3" is important because most of those cut off/grinding wheels are too big to fit into the hole in the van wheel. I used a few of those to smooth everything out and I was done!
Total time: 3 hours.
Total cost: $400 for the wheels and tires, $45 for the supplies (which I get to keep for other projects), and $35 for 20 chrome wheel bolts :thumbup:
If I had to do it again, I probably would special order the 3 3/8 hole saw. The 3 1/2" saw makes the hole a tiny bit too big, which makes it a bit of a pain to install the wheels, but once you figure out a system with your jack, it's not terribly hard.
The van's ride is a little less harsh now over bumps, and in the city, there are lots of bumps!
The wheels also make the van look less like a utility truck and more like a family van (which is what ours is). Also, for some reason, they make the van look not so long. Maybe proportinally speaking, because the wheels are bigger than stock, they make things like the long back window look not quite so long... I don't know.
The wheels do stick out a bit from the van. Actually, the rear wheels barely fit within the verticle plane of the top the wheel arch, but the fronts do stick out an inch or so. If your locale is picky about this, keep it in mind. I know guys who keep their old stock wheels for their cars and stick them on the cars for inspection and then switch back to the bigger wheels the rest of the year.
I also ordered longer bolts for the wheels. 45mm. The alloy wheels are thicker than the steelies (ligher, too!), so I wanted to be sure I had enough meat on the threads. You might be able to go slightly smaller, but there are no interference problems with the 45mm, and they utilize the entire length of thread available.
I think that's about it. Oh yeah- DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! Don't do it! Modifying the wheels on a multi-ton vehicle is a potentially dangerous thing. I'm only telling you about it so you can give me a digital pat on the back for my genius. :smirk: There: that should cover my liability.
Enjoy the pictures:
 

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gary 32

07 ncv3 pv
The wheels do stick out a bit from the van. Actually, the rear wheels barely fit within the verticle plane of the top the wheel arch, but the fronts do stick out an inch or so. If your locale is picky about this, keep it in mind. I know guys who keep their old stock wheels for their cars and stick them on the cars for inspection and then switch back to the bigger wheels the rest of the year.
I think that's about it. Oh yeah- DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! Don't do it! Modifying the wheels on a multi-ton vehicle is a potentially dangerous thing. I'm only telling you about it so you can give me a digital pat on the back for my genius. There: that should cover my liability.
Enjoy the pictures:

Wow are you kidding? Please make sure there is some margin for safety before you put your family and loved ones in your Sprinter.

In a large city like Philly there is a cnc shop for wheels. For about $100 they could machine your hub bore and bolt pattern to be concentric.
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
Wow are you kidding? Please make sure there is some margin for safety before you put your family and loved ones in your Sprinter.

In a large city like Philly there is a cnc shop for wheels. For about $100 they could machine your hub bore and bolt pattern to be concentric.
Gary,
The bolt pattern and hub bore are concentric. How could I mount them if the bolt pattern were off?
And instead of just assuming that "someone in Philly" could do the work for $100, why don't you make some phone calls? I did. $250 and up is what I was quoted. They wouldn't do the work without removing the tires.
And what "margin of safety" are you talking about? Do some reading on this list. I'm not the first to go down this road with these wheels.
 

gary 32

07 ncv3 pv
Joe no disrespect to your efforts and ingenuity, congrats.

Cayanne wheels are best for a t1n.
VW based suv's share the same bolt pattern, not a great offset for a Sprinter and the hub bore needs to be enlarged, nice look.

I approach the weight limit on my NCV 3 often (cargo and people) and I am a little more cautious about hub centric center bore.

I have traveled the road and I listed my cnc costs in Los Angeles.
46 Attachment(s) NCV3 Wheels and Tires (Multi-page thread 1 2 3 ... Last Page)

Best Gary
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
One week follow up:
I love the way the van looks and drives. I've driven most of my usual routes here in the city and the van rides much quieter and about one inch higher. I took it to the best alignment place in Philly (one guy in an old garage, only charges $50,everybody recommends him, does everything on paper, no appointments, first-come-first-served, every day has a line of people waiting at the door at 7:30am) and he complimented me on the work done and said the van needed only a slight re-alignment because of the wheels. I re-torqued the lug bolts and they were all within spec and even took the liberty of marking each wheel at two spots where it met the hub with a dot of paint. I figured if anything shifted, I would be able to see. Nothing has moved... which is as it should be. (I'm also hearing a slight "thud" upon acceleration which will be the subject of a later post, and this also drove me to put the dots on the wheel/hub interface).
Something I forgot to mention in my first post is that not ANY VW/AUDI/PORSCHE wheel will work. The VW TOUAREG, AUDI Q7 and PORSCHE CAYENNE are the only wheels that not only have the correct load rating, but also the correct bolt pattern.
All in all, I'm quite happy with everything and can't wait to get the MB center caps to complete the wheels. I've caught myself staring out the window of my kitchen, just looking at the van :drool: I REALLy like the way the new wheels have transformed it from a utilitarian looking truck into a sweet ride for my family. I get compliments and stares every time I head out in the van.
"I've never seen one of those." "What kind of van is that? Mercedes?!?" "I know you had to go to Europe to get that." "That's a FAMILY van?!? That's awesome!"
Not that I'm out to turn everyone's head, but it sure is nice to get compliments on this van that I've worked so hard on. :smilewink:
 

Clark2

New member
Since seeing your post I've been looking for a set of those rims. Everyone I find costs around $2000 a set. You're obviously a better searcher than me. Could you provide any tips?
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
Since seeing your post I've been looking for a set of those rims. Everyone I find costs around $2000 a set. You're obviously a better searcher than me. Could you provide any tips?
I used a Craigslist "mashup". Usually on Craigslist you can only search by individual city. With the mashup, you can search by state and even region of the country or the whole country. That's how I found my van down in Alabama and the wheels up in New York.

Jaxed.com

is the site and click on "Mash-Category Select" in the top left hand corner. You can search for tons of stuff. Actually, you can search vehicles in Canada and the UK, too. Have fun. :thumbup:
 

Clark2

New member
I've heard about the Craigslist mashups, but I didn't know where to look. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
 

glas1700

Member
MB wheels are hub centric, that is, designed to be centered by a lip on the hub that mates with the wheel. You've converted your wheels to lug centric, which is not the way they were designed to be used.

Whether this will eventually be detrimental remains to be seen, but I'd be uncomfortable with this mounting method. Having them machined is the only way to maintain the hub centric interface.

Byron
07 Navion
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
MB wheels are hub centric, that is, designed to be centered by a lip on the hub that mates with the wheel. You've converted your wheels to lug centric, which is not the way they were designed to be used.

Whether this will eventually be detrimental remains to be seen, but I'd be uncomfortable with this mounting method. Having them machined is the only way to maintain the hub centric interface.

Byron
07 Navion
Byron,
Good point. Gary32 covered it earlier too. I've always wondered about this though. The hub needs to be loose enough to allow the wheel to be placed upon the hub. It is far from a pressed fit so that means there is a gap between the wheel and hub, no matter how small. It seems that it would take quite a bit of force on the tapered lug bolts, or nuts, to allow the wheel to actually move and close that gap for support. The compressed soft metal of the replacement alloy wheels also adds friction at all of the contact surfaces with the hub, so that may help with the replacement wheel situation overall. :idunno:

As you say, time will tell. As a practical matter it may never matter, but if someone is going to make the overall investment for the different wheels I'd think one should include the cost of machining the wheels for the overall estimate and then decide whether to proceed. If you're doing something to your vehicle mostly just for pretty, safety shouldn't be compromised for cost. :2cents: vic
 

marquimarl

New member
Do not use after market lug nuts!
They are the weakest link in your chain!
I tried these chinese aftermarket chrome lug nuts, they do not fit in the rim corectly, too small.
I have actually snapped two lug nuts off during hard aceleration.
I went back and bought the lug nuts that came with the rims, German steel designed to fit these rims.
You can actualy see in the second photo in the silver part the stress caused by having too small of a lugnut, the larger darker part is where the oem lug nut snugs up in the bolt hole.

Tell me if you can see the other design advantage of the Oem Porche Lug nuts.
 

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MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
10,000 mile update.
I put the wheels on when I had 90K miles and I just crossed 100K miles a few weeks ago.
No problems whatsoever. I've driven the van in all conditions- city, country, freeway; rain, sun, cold, hot, snow, sleet, ice, etc; on-road and even some dirt trails.
I'm happy to report no damage, movement, out of alignment, oddly wearing tires, nothing. I've even towed a trailer and had the van filled to capacity with 10 adults and their luggage.
Hot Dawg!:bounce:
 

Dingo

New member
All very well fitting bigger rims & tyres . Just wondering how you deal with using tyres that not load rated for commercial vehicles . In UK using such tyres invalidates your insurance , if you try to claim after an accident & the insurers find out about the incorrctly rated tyres , you have zero chance of getting paid out and most likely prosecuted for operating an unroadworthy vehicle . Make sure rims & tyres are both rated for the vans weight capacity . It's not just your life you gamble with . I have had an alloy rim fracture on my HGV at 60MPH , **** flew everywhere , ripped floor out of trailer , fuel tank & cab back . That was a properly rated rim that failed ( porous casting caused failure ) :yell:
 

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