Because a Freelander is a 4×4 vehicle the type of wheels and tyres you use are very important to ensure you do no damage to the drive train.
Recommended Tyre Sizes
The recommended tyre sizes for a Freelander 1 (1998 – 2006) are:
- 15 inch wheels: 195/80 R15
- 16 inch wheels: 215/65 R16
- 17 inch wheels: 235/55 R17
- 18 inch wheels: 235/50 R18
- 19 inch wheels: 245/45 R19
- 20 inch wheels: 245/40 R20
- 22 inch wheels: 295/30 R22
Although we don’t come across many Freelanders with 22 inch wheels!
For the Freelander 2 (2006 onwards) the recommended tyre sizes are:
- 16 inch wheels: 215/75 R16
- 17 inch wheels: 235/65 R17
- 18 inch wheels: 235/60 R18
- 19 inch wheels: 235/55 R19
- 20 inch wheels: 275/40 R20
- 22 inch wheels: 265/35 R22
What do the Tyre Size Numbers Mean?
Although many of us are quite used to ordering tyres by their numbers, and know they are important, we don’t all understand what they mean.
If we take the 16 inch wheels for a Freelander 1 the tyres should be:
The first number, 215, is the width of the tyre in mm from side wall to side wall when it is not stressed and you are looking at it from the top. The technical name is the section width.
The second number, 65, is the ratio of the height of the tyre sidewall expressed as a percentage of the width. The technical name is the aspect ratio, or section height. In this case, 65% of 215 mm is 139.75 mm.
The R means the tyre is of a radial construction, this just means the cord plies are arranged at 90 degrees to the direction of travel, or radially (from the centre of the tire).
The next number, 16, is the diameter in inches of the rim of the wheel the tyre is designed to fit on. So in this case it is a tyre for a 16 inch wheel.
It is a bit strange that tyre sizes mix inches with mm, but that’s the way it is done!
When you look at the size printed on the tyre this number, e.g. 215/65 R16, will be followed by two numbers and a letter. The two numbers are the load index and the letter is the speed rating. The load index indicates how much weight the tyre can take (for a Freelander you need a minimum load index of 84 or 85, depending on the exact model of Freelander you have) and the speed rating refers to the speed you can travel at for 10 minutes continuously without the tyre breaking into pieces.
The speed ratings are:
- Speed Symbol Max Speed Capability
- MPH Km/h
- L 120 75
- M 130 81
- N 140 87
- P 150 95
- Q 160 100
- R 170 105
- S 180 113
- T 190 118
- U 200 125
- H 210 130
- V 240 150
- W 270 168
- Y 300 186
- Z 240+ 150+
Can You Use a Different Sized Tyre from the Recommended on Your Freelander?
Provided the overall circumference of the wheel with the tyre fitted is within plus or minus 2.5% of the recommended then you should not have any problems in fitting different tyre sizes to your Freelander (although the speedometer will be reading slightly inaccurately). The overall circumference is calculated from the overall diameter.
If the overall circumference is more than plus or minus 2.5% then you run the risk of damage to your drive train.
Taking the most common Freelander tyre sizes, here are some alternative sizes you could use:
195/80 R15 alternatives are:
- 205/75 R15 (-0.87% difference in circumference)
- 215/70 R15 (-1.70% difference in circumference)
- 215/75 R15 (+1.47% difference in circumference)
- 225/70 R15 (+0.32% difference in circumference)
- 235/70 R15 (+2.34% difference in circumference)
215/65 R16 alternatives are:
- 225/65 R16 (+1.76% difference in circumference)
- 225/60 R16 (-1.44% difference in circumference)
- 235/60 R16 (+0.28% difference in circumference)
- 255/55 R16 (0% difference in circumference)
215/75 R16 alternatives are:
- 225/70 R16 (-0.83% difference in circumference)
- 225/75 R16 (+2.19% difference in circumference)
- 235/65 R16 (-2.19% difference in circumference)
- 235/70 R16 (+1.09% difference in circumference)
- 255/65 R16 (+1.36% difference in circumference)
235/65 R17 alternatives are:
- 245/65 R17 (+1.64% difference in circumference)
- 255/60 R17 (0% difference in circumference)
- 265/60 R17 (+1.64% difference in circumference)
- 275/55 R17 (-1.52% difference in circumference)
Do remember that if there is a difference in the circumference then your speedometer reading will be slightly wrong.
You can check whether it is safe to replace your current tyres with any other size by using one of the tyre size calculators available, so if you would like to check for yourself then try this tyre calculator.
How Many Tyres Should You Replace on Your Freelander?
It is always recommended to replace all four tyres at the same time on your Freelander, with the same make, model and type, so as not to cause damage to the drive train.
The 4×4 system on the Freelander 1 is very sensitive to differences in the rolling radius of the tyres, and if these differ by more than 5mm you are risking damage to the drive train, particularly to the rear differential.
To check that your tyres are not winding up your viscous coupling unit (VCU) – the bulbous piece in the centre of the prop shaft running from the front to the back of your Freelander 1 – which is the hub of sending drive to the rear wheels, then drive your Freelander for about 5 – 10 miles, then get underneath and check the temperature of the VCU. BE CAREFUL, the VCU can get very hot! If the VCU is too hot to comfortably hold your hand on it then you have an issue with your tyres, and you should look to replacing them IMMEDIATELY – otherwise you are going to have a very big bill for drive train items.
If you do only replace two tyres on your Freelander 1 then make sure the new tyres go on the rear (the same make, model and type as the front ones) AND check the temperature of the VCU, as above, to make sure it is not heating up. Never replace just one tyre on a Freelander.
A Little More Technical Detail on Freelander Tyres and Wheels
For those of you who like a little more technical detail on your Freelander tyres and wheels here is a bit more information.
For the Freelander 1:
- PCD 5 x 114
- Offset 35 to 45
- Bore 64.1
- Fittings N 12 x 1.5
For the Freelander 2:
- PCD 5 x 108
- Offset 35 to 50
- Bore 63.4
- Fittings N 14 x 1.5
If you do not understand what these mean, here is a brief explanation.
PCD is the Pitch Circle Diameter. This is the diameter, in mm, of a circle drawn through the wheels bolt holes. It also indicates the number of studs, or bolts, the wheel will have. So the Freelander 1 has 5 bolts and the diameter of a circle drawn through the bolt holes is 114 mm. The Freelander 2 has 5 bolts and a diameter of 108 mm.
The offset is where the wheel will sit in relation to the body line of the vehicle. Offset is usually stamped on the wheel and is measured in millimetres of et (et is the short form of the German word ‘Einpresstiefe’ which literally translates as insertion depth). The numbers are essentially the distance between the centre of the wheel and the hub.
The centre bore of a wheel is the centre which fits over the hub. The bore measurement is the diameter in mm of the centre bore.
The fittings are the wheel nuts and bolts required.