my 12 to 13 inch steel wheel upgrade project PICS

04-28-2008, 05:39 PM
As most of you know, 12 inch tires are becoming very hard to find. My 93 metro will need a new set soon. The current ones are dry rotting after only 15,000 miles. I chose to upgrade to the 13 inch steel. I will have a better choice of tires and hopefully better ride.

So, I went to the junk yard and couldn't find any newer metro rims. So i checked the list of what fits. I found a late 80's early 90's front wheel drive Mitsubishi Mirage with 13 inch rims 4.5 inch (114.3mm) bolt pattern and neat center caps, so I bought them. They weren't to rusty.

Price of the rims was $15 each. $60 total

Next step was to have a tire shop remove the old tires. $10 total

Next step was to clean them up before painting. I searched and found several methods of paint stripping and sanding etc.. also sand blasting.
I called a local shop and they said to bring them in. So to save my time in prep work I had them blasted.

All I can say is that they look awesome!

Blasting cost $10 each (includes front back and tire bead) $40 total.

My total costs thus far is $110 for the 4 rims.

I will post more pics as I do the finishing work. I have the 10x1.25 bulge
lug nuts on order. I plan to use duplicor or VHT spray can wheel paint in black with a clear on top.I have heard really good things about these brands. I am not sure if I will paint the center caps or not. They look nice in their pollished crome finish now and will match the crome lug nuts. But I may paint them black to match the rims. What would you do?

More to come this week.


04-29-2008, 06:10 AM
Very nice, look like the originals to me. I'd paint the wheels black, with chrome lug nuts and center cap, and pick up some chrome plastic trim rings.

04-29-2008, 08:59 AM
VERY nice thread and great photographs !

I wish others would post photos of this quality!

Nice work.

I understand that if you buy the right height and width, you can almost match
a smaller sized tire in radius.

Go to:

Three years ago I bought an extra set of 12 inch rims and got 12 inch Snow Tires.

I'm kind of committed to 12 inchers - wish I had gone the 13 inch route...Damn!


Johnny Mullet
04-29-2008, 08:44 PM
I actually prefer the original sparkle silver color, but black rims with chrome rings and nuts look sweet also. I was thinking of upgrading to 14" from my 13" wheels, but we will see.

04-30-2008, 01:23 AM
Man those look sweet. Makes me want a blast cabinet =) And thanks again for the quality pics.


05-04-2008, 12:58 AM
Ok, I was able to get some more done today.

I ended up buying all duplicolor wheels coatings. Self etching primer, flat black wheel paint, and clear wheel coating.

Using spray cans is not as easy as you would think. I had issues with the paint occasionally spray a large "glob" of paint. It took some partice to get it right.

I found that that a 2X4 worked nicely to keep the rim off the ground. I could roll the rims on the 2x4 to paint rather than flip the rim over and over again flat on the ground. Also by having the rims upright, any dripping pain from the can drip would go on the ground rather than the rim. I had to also paint the tire bead area, cause that area was sandblated too.

Here are the rims with several coats of primer.

Here are the rims with several coats of flat black wheel paint.

Here are the rims with several coats of clear.

I had to do the primer, paint and clear coat on the same day. The instruction on the can don't want you waiting more than 1 hour between coatings. If you do, they say to wait 7 days for the paint to totally cure before recoating.
They said the clear would "wrinkle" if you waited more than 1 hour to recoat.

I then polished the center caps with stainless/crome pollishing compound.

Here is what the Mitsubishi Marage rimls look like with the center cap laying on the rim.

I ended up using 2 cans of primer, 3 cans of black paint and 1 can of clear.
It became breezy and I used more paint than I should have.

Total cost of paint was $40

Total cost of project thus far is $150. Its ending up being more than I wanted to spend. I am almost at the point where aluminum rims would have been easier.

I think I will keep the caps crome. The lugs will be crome, and I am thinking of 13 inch crome trim rings. I will have to see how the the rims look with tires on them.

What do you guys think?

1. All black wheels with black center caps and crome lugs?
2. Black wheels with crome center cap, crome lugs and crome trim rings?

More to come...

05-04-2008, 11:55 AM
black center cap

05-04-2008, 04:28 PM
Again, nice photographs!

Tell us what camera you used and how you edited the pics - for everyone who would like
to do as well....!

I hope your rims won't get scratched up when they mount the tires.

Where I live - Farm Country - everything gets filthy immediately - I should paint
all my cars dull brown as if for camouflage.


05-04-2008, 05:58 PM
The camera is actually an old, 1st gereration, digital camera that I bought in the year 2000. The pictures were taken under low res., about 640X480. Most software that comes with digital cameras have a function called "quick fix". The quick fix will edit the image to a standard contrast, brightness, colot etc. 90% of the time the quick fix results in an outstanding edited photo.

I use the free to host the images. Its really rather easy to do. Just follow doctor bills instructions. You then post a link in your mesage to your photobucket account. With photobucket you can also do video. I may try that when the tires are on.


05-12-2008, 07:31 PM
The "bulge" nuts came in. They were on backorder, so if you are thinking of using them you should order them in advance.

Once again, these are the lug nuts that allow you to put rims on your geo that normally fit the bigger studs (such as going from 12 to 13 inch rims). The nuts are 10x1.25 so they fit the smaller studs on the earlier 12 inch rim geos. The nuts are "bulge" to fit the wider hole on the 13 inch or aftermarket rims.

Here is the bulge nut next to a standard 12 inch wheel geo lug nut

Here are the bluge nuts held up against the larger hole on the 13 inch rims

Tires are on back order too. I am going with the highly rated kumho solus-21 175/70-13 These are for daily driving and not performance.

05-13-2008, 11:31 AM
Very nice.

05-13-2008, 11:32 AM
Very nice.

05-15-2008, 07:52 PM
Wow those are pretty nice! Get them done soon so we can see the final result. I'd go with the chrome trim ring and it's a toss up with the black center cap or the chrome one.

06-04-2008, 07:14 PM
Well the tires came in from They were on backorder.

These are the Kumho Solus k21 in 175/70-13 I went with this size to give me a little more tire width. My family has this thing about scraping the curb....'

The tires are the highest rated in their class. I mostly wanted an all season tire with good winter ratings. The 12 inch kumho powerstars on my metro now are really bad when it gets cold on the ice and snow.

One thing that I notice with the tires mounted is that they are heavy. This will eat into my mileage around town somewhat. The speedo will be about 4% off, so I need to take my miles driven and add 4% when figuring out MPG

The trim rings are on order, I will post before and after pics of the metro soon.

06-04-2008, 07:18 PM
Tires were $46 each. With shipping $220 total for all 4 tires

Cost was $60 to have tires mounted/balanced and weights put on the inside of each rim.

Total cost of everything so far is $450 Much more than I was thinking when I started this..

06-17-2008, 07:42 PM
The trim rings finally came in. They were cheap. $22 for a set of 4. They are ABS plastic. Thanks to those that suggested trim rings. They look great.
Here are some pics of the rings, lugs and center cap just laying on the rims.

Next step will be to have an alignment done. Then I will put the new rims on and take before and after pics.

06-18-2008, 05:36 AM
Wow! Those are definitely sharp! Great job and great write up so far. Can't wait to see them on the car.

06-27-2008, 11:25 PM
Looks like this thread is coming to an end. Had my alignment done today. $42 after coupon. So on went the new 13 inch rims and tires from the mitsubishi mirage. Here is a before and after.

One final pic is more than likely enough, but I got carried away with the camera!!

GM Line Rat
06-28-2008, 10:40 PM
Excellent job on the 12" to 13" rim swap Ross......:thumbsup: I read this thread earlier this morning, then this afternoon, My Son and I were coming back from Home Depot on the interstate with a full load of ceramic tile and underlayment in the Chevy Truck.....Then what pulls up in front of us???.....An early 90's front wheel drive Mitsubishi Mirage with 13" rims.....:iceslolan .

06-28-2008, 11:24 PM

That is strange! But did he have chrome trim rings?

I have to admit, it took some nerve to pound those trim rings into the freshly
painted rims, knowing that they will scratch the HXXL out of them.

To me, they look better in person than in the photos. I am happy so far. There is a big difference in ride. I am going to check my mileage
to see if it dips any.

I too have a son and he learned how to drive in a metro. I think it was easy for him to learn on it.

The car in this thread is my daughters. She just doesn't seem to get how excited dad is about the upgrade. I even hinted that the boys may strike up a conversation over those awesome looking rims. Sadly, she just doesn't understand.

Thanks for the compliments. It's alway satifying to do something yourself.

07-15-2008, 03:40 AM
Just an update. I have ran a couple of tanks of gas thru the car with the larger tires on it. The assumption is that the larger diameter tire would decrease mileage in town and raise mileage on the highway. My intown mileage has actually has gone up by about 2 MPG. I attribute this to having an alignment done. The car now drives in a straight line.

The car handles better and there is alot less road noise too.

So far so good. Hopefully these tires will be better in the winter. That is the whole purpose of doing this.

10-30-2008, 01:49 AM
One last update...

It occured to me that if you do what i did you will need to remember the following:

1. The new bulge lug nuts use a different size lug wrench than what is in the trunk
of your metro, so you need to carry the proper size in case you have a flat.

2. If you have a flat, it would be a good idea to have 4 of the old lug nuts to
match your old spare.

04-03-2010, 09:00 PM
Another update. After two winters my new wheels are doing well.
But the gorilla lug nuts are starting to rust, some worse than others.
These bulg lug nuts from gorilla are not covered under their lifetime warantee.

I am going to switch to the all black ATV lug 10x1.25 that others have used.
They are cheaper and the reseller claims that if you only use a 6 point lug
wrench they shouldn't rust. We will see.

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