Here’s Why So Many Honda Odyssey Owners Are Running BMW Wheels On Their Vans

Honda Odyssey Bmw Wheels Topshot

If you have an eye for vehicle modification, you may have spotted the odd third-generation Honda Odyssey minivan rocking a set of BMW alloy wheels. They’re typically unassuming and otherwise unmodified, just a wheel swap away from being bone stock. While the choice of wheels is certainly stylish, the underlying factors in running wheels from depreciated Bavarian hoopties are cost and hassle. Here’s how one really bizarre tire system led some Honda Odyssey owners to rock BMW wheels.

Many of you may have heard much of this story before, but it’s so interesting that it bears revisiting. Also, I want to show you BMW wheels on a Honda van.

While the second-generation Odyssey packed its spare tire under the floor with access through the cabin, the third-generation Odyssey did things a bit differently. Many minivans were moving towards offering seating for eight, so Honda offered a removable second-row center seat that it needed to stow somewhere in the vehicle for the sake of convenience. So Honda stowed that seat under the floor, carved out a spare tire compartment in the cargo area wall, and all was well, right? Well, not quite. Honda wanted to offer owners of the new range-topping Odyssey Touring model a little extra safety and convenience, and presumably thought that the best way to do so would be to ditch the spare tire altogether and tap Michelin for the hotness of the mid-2000s: a set of run-flat tires.

Run Flat Reinforcement
Photo credit: Continental AG

Even today, run-flat tires compromise ride quality and handling for flat tire protection, but the typical run-flat tires of the 2000s were particularly awful to drive on. All that sidewall reinforcement compromised flexibility over bumps while contributing to unsprung weight. For instance, OE fitment on my 2006 BMW 325i was a 225/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A II RFT clocking in at 27 pounds. By contrast, a Continental ExtremeContact Sport in the same size clocks in at just 21 pounds, typical for a non-runflat 225/45R17. While Michelin wasn’t able to solve the unsprung weight issue, the French tire maker thought it could solve ride comfort with something called the PAX system.

If you’ve ever had to deal with metric TRX tires, a special Michelin tire system should be ringing alarm bells in your head, and rightfully so. Here’s how the PAX system worked. Instead of reinforcing the tire sidewall like everyone else, Michelin designed a special polymer ring that would fit in a channel designed into bespoke wheels. The tires would then go over the whole thing, using special beads to keep the tires in place should pressure be lost. In theory, everything seemed brilliant. Better ride quality, run-flat capability, and the ability to patch small punctures. What could possibly go wrong?

Pax System
Photo credit: Michelin

For starters, the PAX system used metric tire sizing. Odyssey Touring models rolled on 245-710R460A tires which is an absolute mouthful if I’m being honest. The 710 is the tire diameter in millimeters, the 460 is the wheel diameter in millimeters, and the A designates the PAX system. In an attempt to not repeat the failure of the TRX tires of the ‘80s, Michelin licensed the PAX system to Goodyear, Pirelli, Toyo, and Sumitomo, who then didn’t release any PAX tires because they realized the system was completely insane.

Then there’s the matter of actually getting PAX system tires. Because they’re so bizarre compared to a traditional wheel and tire arrangement, they can’t be mounted using typical tire equipment. As such, owners of vehicles that use the PAX system can’t just pop down to their corner garage for a cheap mount and balance, they have to go to a specialized facility. Want to get your hands on PAX equipment? Good luck. Even in Honda’s online equipment catalog, the Coates PAX tire changer that most dealerships used has been discontinued.

Oh, and there was one other small issue with the Odyssey Touring’s Michelin PAX system tires, one that ended up with Odyssey Touring owners suing Honda and Michelin. Owners alleged rapid tire wear beyond what would normally be expected from a fairly heavy minivan, along with the aforementioned difficulty sourcing replacements. I’ll let tire and polymer news website Rubber News spell it all out.

Lawsuits filed against the companies alleged they failed to disclose that “neither they nor any third parties maintained sufficient repair or replacement facilities” to meet consumers’ needs for the tires, that the costs of repairing and replacing the tires is unreasonable and the tires are “defective and susceptible to premature wear.”

The litigation sought injunctive relief, damages and restitution on behalf of a projected class including owners of Honda and Acura vehicle models that came equipped with PAX tires.

In the end, the parties involved in these lawsuits reached a settlement in which reimbursement of certain previous expenses and a three-year, 36,000-mile tire wear warranty was included. Granted, it’s not uncommon for automakers to equip vehicles with quick-wearing tires. If low treadwear helps a manufacturer cut costs while maintaining handling and NVH targets, it’s not the worst decision to make. For instance, the Yokohama Avid GT tires equipped on many new Toyota Corollas have a UTQG treadwear rating of just 280. However, a Corolla uses a standard tire size and mounting arrangement, whereas Odyssey Touring owners are locked to just the Michelin Energy LX4 PAX tires originally equipped on the van.

Cars With Pax System
Photo credit: Nissan/Rolls-Royce/Bugatti

The third-generation Honda Odyssey wasn’t the only vehicle to use the Michelin PAX system, but applications in North America weren’t exactly common. Other cars available with these strange run-flat tires include the third-generation Nissan Quest minivan, the Acura RL luxury sedan, the Rolls-Royce Phantom monument to posh mustard, and the Bugatti Veyron surface-to-surface missile. Quite an odd array of vehicles,

So, what’s an Odyssey owner to do when they need tires but don’t want the cost or headache associated with the Michelin PAX system? Change wheels, of course, and one manufacturer seems to have the goods to fix the Odyssey’s tire headache. Other Hondas on the Global Light Truck architecture don’t go wrong terribly often, so Pilot and Odyssey take-offs can be a touch scarce. You know what does go wrong catastrophically as soon as the typical fourth owner takes possession? Almost every BMW under the sun.

Honda Odyssey Bmw Wheels 1

See, the third-generation Odyssey uses a 5×120 mm bolt pattern and a 64.1 mm hub bore, while older BMWs also use a 5×120 mm bolt pattern and a much larger hub bore. Most pre-CLAR BMWs use a 72.56 mm hub bore, although E39 5-Series models use a 74.1 mm hub bore. To quell vibrations, the difference in hub bore can be filled by cheap hub-centric rings. Nice.

However, if you’re planning on running BMW wheels on your Honda Odyssey, it’s a good idea to keep offsets in mind. The third-generation Odyssey runs high offsets, like wheels that are seven inches wide and feature 50 mm of positive offset. In contrast, most rear-wheel-drive BMWs feature lower offsets, which can play havoc on fender clearance and scrub radius. The easiest way of partially getting around this is by using wheels from BMWs with xDrive all-wheel-drive. A Style 210 wheel from an E70 X5 clocks in at 8.5 inches wide with a 46 mm offset, while a Style 246 from an all-wheel-drive E60 5-Series measures in at eight inches wide with a 43 mm offset. It’s also worth keeping load ratings in mind, particularly if you plan on towing or hauling heavy loads. You’ll likely want wheels from an X5 SUV rather than a 5-Series sedan as they’re generally rated to carry heavier loads.

Honda Odyssey Bmw Wheels 2
Photo credit: Jeremy803/Odyclub

Perhaps the best part of slapping BMW wheels on your Honda Odyssey is that they’re generally cheap. Aside from a few highly-desired styles, most OEM BMW wheels don’t hold a ton of value because of their relatively uncommon 5×120 mm bolt pattern. You’ll also see this pattern on a handful of newer GM cars, a small selection of Japanese vehicles, a few Bentleys, and not much else. Even BMW has switched to a 5×112 mm bolt pattern on newer vehicles, which should keep general supply of everyday older BMW wheels above demand for quite some time. So go forth, third-generation Odyssey Touring owners, and break free from the hassle of the Michelin PAX system. You’ll have some shiny new-to-you wheels and cheaper tire bills to show for it.

Lead photo credit: Honda/Michelin/Thomas Hundal

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47 Responses

  1. Had Metric TRX tires on my Mercury LN7, Had to get new Michelins

    One of the reasons we did not get a BMW i3 was proprietary tires.

    Our Nissan Leaf got new fronts, thanks to that torque. Discount Tire had numerous options along with my choice of rims.

      1. Yep Nokian (as stated by Drive By Commenter) as well as Bridgestone Blizzaks and Conti’s here in North America. I think in Europe Goodyear and Michelin also offered the right size as well as a random Chinese brand that I can’t remember now (or find) now.

  2. I could go on a length rant here about these tires. Our 2002 Odyssey had them. I didn’t even realize that we had run-flats when we bought them. We got the Touring because it was the only trim that had the automatic rear door. I think they were already having issues with the run-flats so it wasn’t highlighted much to buyers.

    We never got more than 30k miles out of a pair of tires, and the replacement cost was between $1200 – $1600. We were lucky a dealer near us had the machines that could handle it. Some of the Honda dealerships didn’t spring for the cost to install them. I heard of people having blowouts in Utah who had the choice of having the van towed into Nevada or ordering an entirely new wheel.

    There were a number of people who swapped out the tires for similar non-run-flat Acura tires, but this required replacing the TPMS as well. Honda quickly banned any dealerships from doing the work, which made it pretty difficult to switch.

    I was part of one of the lawsuits. I think I got a free mini-spare and a $50 Honda voucher.

  3. I make $1.75 a day trolling these websites and helping people understand 7″ wheels with 55mm offsets. The best way is to picture a wheel that is seven stone and has the diameter of a 50 shilling sun hat. Also, Brazilian tweed is the best tread pattern if your tires are at least two hands wide.

  4. Well, not every new idea is necessarily going to work out, is it? Leave it to Michelin to engineer something so complicated that BMW cast-offs is the fix (?!!!). At least the wheels look sweet-as on the vans. Which brings up another thing I don’t understand – the hate-on for vans. A guy I work with has a Sienna and it’s damned nice to ride in and practical for hauling as much crap as a truck while getting amazing mileage with a hybrid drive. I suppose it’s like my generation hating on wagons as it’s what we grew up riding in; I wonder it the kids of today will treat SUV’s like the plague when they grow up?

    1. SUVs seem to be immune to that phenomenon. I’m part of the generation that grew up with parents (moms, mainly) who turned their noses up at minivans and wagons and bought SUVs en masse instead, and my peers all seem to still be buying SUVs themselves, and at an even higher percentage than our parents did. Boomers quickly rejected wagons, briefly flirted with minivans, then quickly rejected them and went to SUVs. Gen X and Millennials are pretty well all about SUVs/CUVs, and also giant pickups

      1. Minivans are the second best possible use of vehicular real state, after the box on wheels. Compare and contrast with SUVs that occupy more to deliver much less, like a reverse TARDIS.

        1. The only SUVs bigger than a modern minivan are full sizers like the Tahoe. And those are going to win if you want to tow anything. Minivans are bigger than pretty much any 3 row crossover on the road.

      2. +1 for wagons and minivans being the best types of vehicles (I just give them joint 1st place, I cannot decide which one I like the most). I could go on about the why, but do I really need to? Of course not.

        Never understood the hate minivans get, and how station wagons stopped being popular. It’s one of those things that makes me lose all faith in humanity.

  5. Interesting. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one rocking BMW wheels. Most of the people get take offs from another Honda/Acura product or just get some shitty wheels and tires from Les Schwab for less than a set of PAX tires cost. You do get the occasional person who is a diehard PAX fan and refuses to swap them out and are still coming in for new ones. PAX tires have actually been discontinued so what is out there is what you get. As the only Honda certified PAX installer left in my area, I will not be sad to see these things disappear. Those things suck to mount and they are also ridiculously heavy.

  6. The Sienna AWD had the same problem,

    “Oddly, Toyota now offers a spare tire kit that takes up one of the rear seats and is being sold to people who elect to buy conventional tires to replace those expensive and fast-wearing run-flats. Our local Toyota dealer estimated a cost of $900 for the complete kit (individual parts are sold separately) and cautioned that the third-row seat would have to be removed to fit the temporary spare tire and accessories. ”

    We didn’t need new wheels at least.. but it always floored me that the replacement for a spare tire was a tire repair kit. The average minivan driver isn’t going to be able to conduct tire repair on the road..

  7. As soon as I saw this I figured it was a cost and availability issue. I wasn’t aware of the PAX run flat issue.
    VW Vanagon owners often use 80s and 90s Mercedes 15″ and 16″ wheels to get bigger brakes or tires.

  8. Got some flashbacks to my days in the military working on HMMWV tires. They also have these horrible run-flat inner-wheel support rings. Been a while since I’ve had to mess with them, but older ones were two-piece magnesium rings, newer ones had a solid rubber ring.
    At least the HMMWVs were good enough to have two-piece wheels that you could bolt together, so you only had to wrestle the rings into the tires.

    On a different note, I would love to have small articles on here about random tweaks and tips and tricks that people use to make their vehicles better or easier to maintain.
    As an example, the only thing required to make a 9th gen F-150 (such as my ’93) have an oil pressure gauge that actually works is an earlier model pressure sender and a jumper to bypass the resistor on the back of the gauge cluster. Its the only thing that alerted me that my oil pump was dying.
    I’ve also made brass bushings for my ’67 Mustang’s clutch linkage out of old shell casings (.38 and .45 I think I used?)

    I think people would get a kick out of stuff like that.

      1. I would’ve thought that they had discontinued them for the rubber due to the issues you might get if they caught fire.
        You know, as military vehicles sometimes do?

        But I could also see crushing as a possible issue.

  9. “…and the Bugatti Veyron surface-to-surface missile.”

    This is the first time I’ve seen something like this written and instead of saying, “Torch,” I’ve said, “Hundal?”

    I love your writing here, keep it coming!

  10. Great story!

    One thing worth pointing out is that Touring models were rare simply due to their top-of-the-line cost.

    When I purchased my ’08 Odyssey EX-L I could not justify the extra $ for the Touring trim. I had no idea about this clusterf*ck and am so glad to have unwittingly avoided it. 183,000 miles and still going strong!

  11. I had a coworker get blindsided by this when he needed new rubber on his Odyssey. He bought the van used and had no idea the tires were run-flats and almost fell over when he had to lay out around $1500 for new tires from the Honda dealer.

  12. We have a 3rd gen Odyssey as well. I had heard about the PAX issues which kept me away from the Touring version when were were shopping around. Then it felt like as soon as we got the van I started spotting them everywhere with all kids of random wheels on them. Every time I see it I just laugh to myself a little because I know exactly what’s going on.

    Now I just need someone to distract my wife while I try to stuff these Camaro SS wheels on the van.

  13. Time to prohibit these lame-ass stunts Michelin likes to pull with this shit.

    We need to require tires to be in the standard size form, paired with standard rims.

    For awhile, Honda sold a De-Pax kit which was just regular wheels.

    And of course, aftermarket wheels are available for the Ody.

  14. Do you have a source for finding wheel load ratings? I’m toying with the idea of using 17-inch RAV4 steelies as winter wheels on a new Sienna. Bolt pattern, hub, offset, etc. all make it look like a straight switch. But the Sienna is nearly 1000 lbs heavier.

    I have not been able to find any information online about the RAV4 wheel load ratings. Maybe just need to find someone who has them and ask to inspect their wheels??

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