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Hi all,
I want to share what I've been going through with my set of winter wheels+tires. I'd like to know if anyone else has had similar experience, and hear your advice on what I should do next. (Parental Advisory: tl:dr people can stop reading right now)
My car: 2018 Stelvio Ti Sport with 20" wheels. Now at 16,500 miles. Fantastic car!

November 2018 - Shopping for a set of winter wheels and tires. I always prefer running smaller rims on my winter set for the higher sidewall, narrower footprint, and cheaper/more easily available tire options.
TireRack, where I normally buy my wheels and tires, only suggests 19" or 20" for the Stelvio, although I know that the Stelvio is also supplied from the factory with 18" wheels.
I find a great price for 18" wheels+tires mounted from an online store based in CA. They tell me that they can't guarantee the fitment of the 18" wheels. I consult with the tech at my local Alfa Romeo dealer and we conclude that 18" rims are fine for my Stelvio. I place the order for Mach ME5 wheels and Michelin X-Ice tires.
The store tells me that as the wheels ship from CA but the tires from somewhere in the northeast, they will ship them to me separately unmounted. I get a discount to cover what it will cost me to mount and balance them.
December 2018 - The wheels and tires arrive. I have them mounted and balanced at a local independent shop I know and trust. They say that it was very hard to balance them. Also turns out that the spokes don't clear the front brakes. I order 3 mm spacers, longer wheel bolts, and hubcentric spacers as the center bore of the wheel is larger than the hub center.
I mount the wheels on the car, and as soon as I hit the highway, I can feel a slight wobble like the wheel is unbalanced. I live with it for the rest of the winter.
March 2019 - I remove the winter set and they are stored in my garage for summer, stacked on their side to avoid creating flatspots.
November 2019 - I fit the winter set on my car, and on the first drive feel the wobbling and decide I can't live with it another season. I go to my local Mr. Tire and pay to have the wheels balanced. I leave the shop, and immediately feel more than just a wobble - more like a bounce - at city speeds. I take it right back in the next day. They pull the wheels off and try balancing again in my presence They show me the load force roller results showing that 3 of my tires are creating excessive load at one point on the wheel (i.e. the tires are sort of cam shaped). Their conclusion is that the tires must be defective.

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I check with Michelin and find that the tires are covered under warranty for 40,000 miles and that I need to take them back to where I bought them, and if I bought them online, I can take them to any authorized Michelin dealer.
I find that my Alfa Romeo dealer (Ganley of Bedford, Ohio) are a Michelin dealer. They have never handled a Michelin warranty claim before, but they are very helpful. Initially they convey that Michelin has offered to cover 75% of the cost of 3 tires. I say that's not enough as I have to replace a full set, and I don't have any responsibility for tire defects, so shouldn't pay for anything. They agree to replace all 4 tires. I still need to pay for the mounting and balancing (dealership prices - Ouch...)
December 2019 - The new tires are delivered. Ganley Alfa Romeo mount and balance them. I hit the road and immediately feel exactly the same bouncing that I had before.... Not much chance that the new tires are also defective. My only logical conclusion is that the wheels must be the problem (sorry Michelin...).
The bouncing frequency and the speed at which it manifests itself changes depending on the rotation phases of the different wheels relative to each other. When a pair of bad wheels are in phase, or maybe at 180 degrees away from each other, at a certain speed the car bounces with the spring rate harmonics. It's terrible.
January 2020 - Finally some yucky, snowy and icy weather. The X-Ice tires are absolutely amazing. Rock solid security at 20 mph faster than anyone else in the worst road conditions. But that bounce!
I contact the company where I bought the wheels and explain the situation. They tell me to talk to the wheel manufacturer. The wheel manufacturer sends me right back to the store.
Today I spent an hour on the phone with service. They won't handle any warranty issue with the wheels since it's been more than a year, and because they told me when I bought them that they can't guarantee fitment.
They also say that 18" wheels are not suitable for such a heavy car, and that this is why they don't recommend installing 18" wheels on the Stelvio.
I call bullshit on this because the Stelvio does come with stock 18" wheels, and there are plenty of cars that weigh as much and more that run on 18" wheels, and even 17 or 16. My former Subaru Outback weighed about the same and came on 18" stock tires. I ran 17" winters on that one with no issues at all.
I ask them what if I have a wheel measured by an independent lab and it shows that the wheel is not round or is off center? They said that if it's out of round, it's because I ran the wheel on a car they don't recommend it for, and because the wheel has already been used for more than a year.
They suggest I change to 19" (at my expense of course).

Here's a link to something I found on the internet about someone who seems to have had exactly the same problem, with wheels of the same brand: Wheel balance problems - F150online Forums

So now to my predicament. It's clear that what I've spent already on the wheels, accessories, balancing etc. has gone down the drain. The question is, what do I do next?
I have a nearly new set of 18" tires. I am inclined to buy a different set of 18" wheels, maybe even oem, if I can find any used ones (scared to ask how much new ones cost...), but I am worried that maybe the tire store is right, and I'll spend a grand on new wheels + mounting only to find myself in exactly the same situation again.
Or do I just buy a complete set of 19" wheels and tires from TireRack - looking at $1500 minimum for only one and a half winter seasons left till my lease ends, and hope to get some cash back from selling the 18" tires. (I don't know if I even dare try to sell the wheels - if they are indeed not round...)

What are your thoughts on this? Any experiences with 18" tires on a Stelvio? Which rims did you buy? What do you think I should do now?

Thanks, and keep enjoying your Stelvios!
 

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That’s a sorry story, I have great empathy knowing that some wheel joint sold you a set of wheels that are, at best a poor fit and possibly poorly manufactured.

There should be no reason why you can’t run 18” wheels with proper offset and no spacer.

Since you already have tires, you could call Alfa9 supply who sells a set of not cheap but not ridiculously priced 18” wheels for the 2.0 Stelvio, still $2160 for a whole set. You could go to Detroit Wheel but they are asking $500/wheel for 18” OEM as well. If you get lucky somebody with a base Stelvio has taken off the 18” and you could post on boards for them as wanted. There is a set on eBay auto for $849, not really clear if all four auction 156117306.
 

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There is an anthracite set of 18’s on eBay as well for $1046
 

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Same seller
 

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Good luck
 

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I bought a 2019 Stelvio Sport Ti with the 22 s option package. The car originally came with 20“ Pirelli al season mounted on the hideous (imo) Y spoke aluminum wheels. I ordered the optional 8,5 x 20 aluminum 5 hole sport but for some reason my dealer could not get them for my car .. they offered instead the 19” sport wheels with the half holes and I approved the change.
After picking up the car and leaving on a drive to Florida the next day there was a myriad of problems during the drive that resulted in my finding the local dealership the day after arriving and having them send a flatbed to get the car.
Let’s just say the dealer where I bought the car failed miserably when it came to delivery prep. The list of things the Florida dealers service mgr and tech working on my car said were either done wrong or not at all was long ... and to the point of this thread at the top of the list was replacing the 20” with 19“ tires.
It was explained to me that while not a safety issue cars with the 22s option package are designed to run on 20” tires. Replacing them means a whole bunch of unintended consequences...
 

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Sorry to hear your troubles. I have the same car with 20s. I purchased a used set of 19s off a Lusso from ebay and mounted snows. The winter performance is a amazing, the ride and stability with 19s is way better than 20s. I would play it safe with real 19" Alfa wheels. Good Luck.
 

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I bought a 2019 Stelvio Sport Ti with the 22 s option package. The car originally came with 20“ Pirelli al season mounted on the hideous (imo) Y spoke aluminum wheels. I ordered the optional 8,5 x 20 aluminum 5 hole sport but for some reason my dealer could not get them for my car .. they offered instead the 19” sport wheels with the half holes and I approved the change.
After picking up the car and leaving on a drive to Florida the next day there was a myriad of problems during the drive that resulted in my finding the local dealership the day after arriving and having them send a flatbed to get the car.
Let’s just say the dealer where I bought the car failed miserably when it came to delivery prep. The list of things the Florida dealers service mgr and tech working on my car said were either done wrong or not at all was long ... and to the point of this thread at the top of the list was replacing the 20” with 19“ tires.
It was explained to me that while not a safety issue cars with the 22s option package are designed to run on 20” tires. Replacing them means a whole bunch of unintended consequences...
That doesn’t sound right. As long as the circumference of the resultant tire is the same and the wheel is the correct offset while at the same time clearing the brakes everything should be ok. I have an 18 Ti with the 22S package and the 19” wheel option from the factory as listed on my window sticker and have not seen any issues.

I am not doubting the statement that the car may have been designed for 20” rims as I’m sure there is a preferred combo that the suspension was tuned for, but there shouldn’t be any issue going up and down in rim size assuming other factors are correct.

Alex..
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the responses so far!

RDemon - Didn't know what 22S package was, but looked it up, and this is what I have on my car.
Was any detailed technical explanation given as to why a 19" inch wheel wouldn't be right, even though it's almost the same external diameter?
Most responders here seemed confident that buying a different set of 18" rims would be fine, yet you're implying that even if I go up to 19", I might still have trouble...

Bsmarble - Why only OEM? There are reputable quality aftermarket brands out there - what could be problematic about mounting them?
 

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Did not read to read everything to know your tires were perfect. You bought Sh!!! rims that were either out of round or more likely and much harder to evaluate, they wobbled in the Y plane meaning laterally. It was all about the wheels sir. Nothing to do with 18 inch, 19 inch etc. I own a balncer and have done wheels for 20yrs and experienced your issue. Sometime a pothole does not leave a flatspot...it warps the wheel. Your first clue was that they were hard to balance. My track tires only get static balanced because its good enough and the wheels have lived a tough life. frankly they weren't perfect when i got them.
Man I hear a lot of BS coming from these dealers that are 100% clueless about tires. Unfortunately, you got what you paid for. Been there done that. I no longer buy junk wheels. Go to tire rack, buy some 18's that actually fit your Stelvio without spacers etc and put your mint Michelins on them. Problem solved. Sell those wheels cheap to some sucker thinking they get a great deal. May be fine on a Kia suspension.....had this happen on my first X5. had to junk the wheels and this is where I learned about lateral runout problems. BTW cheap wheels are typically heavy and bend easy. may even crack.
 

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I am not doubting the statement that the car may have been designed for 20” rims as I’m sure there is a preferred combo that the suspension was tuned for, but there shouldn’t be any issue going up and down in rim size assuming other factors are correct.

Alex..
That is exactly the point the Florida dealership service manager made ... believe me I was skeptical about his statement also... but as he was going through the list of items that should have been addressed prior to delivery he said I should have been advised against changing tire size because the car.. with that package ..was designed for and would perform better with 20” wheels. And Alfa must agree because when all was said and done Alfa Premium Care gave me set of the 5 hole 8.5 x 20” aluminum sport wheels n/c to make up for this and all the issues caused by the selling dealerships poor pre delivery prep.
 

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There seems to be a problem with comprehension by a couple of responders...the 19” wheels and tires were all brand new original equipment installed by the dealership prior to delivery... there were no aftermarket ..out of round ...anything involved .. and how anyone got to that conclusion is really beyond my comprehension .. ;-0
 

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Did not read to read everything to know your tires were perfect. You bought Sh!!! rims that were either out of round or more likely and much harder to evaluate, they wobbled in the Y plane meaning laterally. It was all about the wheels sir. Nothing to do with 18 inch, 19 inch etc. I own a balncer and have done wheels for 20yrs and experienced your issue. Sometime a pothole does not leave a flatspot...it warps the wheel. Your first clue was that they were hard to balance. My track tires only get static balanced because its good enough and the wheels have lived a tough life
Man I hear a lot of BS coming from these dealers that are 100% clueless about tires. Unfortunately, you got what you paid for. Been there done that. I no longer buy junk wheels. Go to tire rack, buy some 18's that actually fit your Stelvio without spacers etc and put your mint Michelins on them. Problem solved. Sell those wheels cheap to some sucker thinking they get a great deal. May be fine on a Kia suspension.....had this happen on my first X5. had to junk the wheels and this is where I learned about lateral runout problems. BTW cheap wheels are typically heavy and bend easy. may even crack.
Man talk about lack of comprehension... nowhere in my post do I mention 18” tires .. aftermarket sh!!! rims.. Michelin tires.. or anything being hard to balance.. and the advice to sell the rims to
“some sucker” is ..well ... you know.. but hey.. other than that your post was right on..👍🏻
 

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Discussion Starter #14
RDemon, I think his response about **** 18" rims was to me.
Thread Hijacker!!!😄

Thanks for your response ViscontiVerde.
What you say makes sense, and I like that it's based on experience.
For sure the tire store people, the balancing shop people and the Alfa Romeo techs I spoke to are far from knowing all the technical intricacies of wheels and tires. I, on the other hand, just want to hand over my money and drive away smoothly...
I have already accepted that those wheels and all side costs I incurred are a write-off.

I can't shop for 18" wheels for a Stelvio on TireRack because it only suggests 19 or 20 (see what you miss when you don't read it all? ;) )
I can, however, shop for 18" rims for a Giulia, and the RIAL Lucca come up at $156 each. How do I evaluate if these are good quality wheels or not?
What about the Platinum Flux for $162?
Can I assume that anything Tire Rack stocks is good enough quality for my car?
 

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what was this thread called? a "cautionary tale"?
maybe there are reasons some wheels are really cheap, based on YOUR experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
lost 1750 GTV - What point are you trying to make?
Do you have good experience with really cheap wheels to offset my experience? (and Visconti's)
How cheap is bad? How much do I have to spend for good wheels? How can I know if cheap wheels are good or bad?
Is MACH known as a bad quality brand? Are there different brand wheels that also cost $100 but are high quality?
What about the RIAL and Platinum brands? Are they expensive enough to be good?

The reason I'm posting here is to ask for advice from others who have more experience than me. That's what these forums are for.
Obviously my instance is just a single case. I've stated the facts as they are and not made any assumptions.
 

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None of this makes sense. This car can have 18, 19, 20, heck even larger doesnt matter. Were the 18" wheels you have hub centric or have hub rings? That could most definitely cause the issue you described.
 

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I recently bought a set of 20" wheels and performance SUV tires from TireRack for $1800 otd. No problems, everything fit fine and well balanced. I bought the least expensive wheels (only a few to choose from) and tires offered, realizing that the tires may be old stock. I'm happy with the purchase, also bought a set of lowered springs from TireRack. Wheels, tires and lowered springs all installed for just under 3K. Now I have a set of 18's with almost new tires sitting in my garage.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
None of this makes sense. This car can have 18, 19, 20, heck even larger doesnt matter. Were the 18" wheels you have hub centric or have hub rings? That could most definitely cause the issue you described.
I did buy hub centric rings because the center bore of the wheels is a bit bigger than the hub - mainly to make it easier to mount the wheels. It was hard to get the lug nuts in whilst holding the wheel in place. With the rings the wheel is in the right place to insert the bolts easily. However, when the wheel center hole is larger than the hub, it's the bolts that ultimately determine the location of the wheel, not the hub.

Now that's got me thinking... I didn't have the bounce (now I know it's called radial runout) when I first installed the wheels myself. I only had a slight vibration that feels like lateral runout.
When I put on a wheel, I tighten all bolts finger tight first, and then I cycle through all 5 in the proper sequence, tightening each one just half a turn before moving on to the next. This ensures that all 5 bolts will be centrally seated in the wheel bores.
When the shops mount the wheels, they tighten in the same sequence, but they use the air tool and tighten that first bolt way more than I do. This locates the wheel in a specific position - given that the center bore is oversize - and then the other bolts just fall in with that first one.
This could possibly be causing the radial runout that I'm feeling when I drive out the shop, but haven't been feeling when I mount them myself.
First thing I will do is lift each corner, loosen the bolts, and then tighten them my way, and see if that remedies the radial runout bounce.
I would like to know if anyone has opinions about this idea.

I recently bought a set of 20" wheels and performance SUV tires from TireRack for $1800 otd. No problems, everything fit fine and well balanced. I bought the least expensive wheels (only a few to choose from) and tires offered, realizing that the tires may be old stock. I'm happy with the purchase, also bought a set of lowered springs from TireRack. Wheels, tires and lowered springs all installed for just under 3K. Now I have a set of 18's with almost new tires sitting in my garage.
So would you be willing to separate your wheels from your tires and sell them to me, if my above remedy doesn't work?
 

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TireRack, where I normally buy my wheels and tires, only suggests 19" or 20" for the Stelvio, although I know that the Stelvio is also supplied from the factory with 18" wheels.
The base Stelvio does indeed have 18" wheels as one of the choices. However, your ti doesn't have an 18" option from the factory. Just 19 or 20. That's something I didn't know until now. So Tire Rack is following the offerings from Alfa.

Maybe someone knows if the no 18" for ti restriction has a technical reason, or is just a marketing decision.
 
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