I May Have Been the First to Put BF Goodrich KO2s on an Audi Q5
Why Would I Even Do This?
I have had this weird fascination with trucks that have big, all-terrain tires. I’m not talking about 35 inch mudders and a lift kit – just some tires that look like they wouldn’t get stuck in two inches of snow (or mud) and have tough sidewalls. This goes back to my childhood (more on that in a moment) but also to a trip I took to Baja four years ago to try the new BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires.
This interest isn’t really compatible with my daily driver, a 2017 Audi Q5. You know, the conqueror of farmer’s market and corporate office parking lots is a fine vehicle, but it’s not exactly the most masculine vehicle. Now, I’m a guy who is comfortable in my own skin and don’t really care that about 80 percent of fellow Q5s on the road seem to be driven by women. I also don’t care that my Q5 is far from the sportiest car Audi sells – in fact, it might be the least sporty vehicle in Audi’s lineup. I have a Sienna to fulfill my sport needs. (Just kidding, I use the S6 to get my fix).
Basically, I’m a Big Kid
Back to the big tire thing: this goes back to my childhood in the early 1980s. I remember being in second grade (1982-83 school year) and drawing Chevy pickups (The Fall Guy was a staple of the Haak family’s TV watching diet) with oversized tires. I mean, every pickup I drew was 1) a Chevy, and 2) had huge tires.
The size of the tires sometimes varied. When I felt a little crazy, I’d draw them so large that they nearly touched each other. Sometimes I kept a similar tire-to-body ratio to what Colt Seaver had on his pickup.
I remember going on a camping trip with my grandparents one summer in the early 80s, and my parents were planning to join us a day or two later in their 1978 Suburban. The Suburban had BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/As. I loved the slightly up-sized look. But – dad told me they were wearing out and he would be replacing them with smaller on-road tires. As I waited for my parents to arrive at the campground, I was saying small prayers that maybe the old tires had one more trip in them. Nope. They were *passenger car tires* on my parents’ Suburban.
Firsthand Baja Experience
Fast forward to four years ago, and I was invited to conquer Baja with BF Goodrich as the company launched its new-generation all-terrain BF Goodrich KO2 tires. I loved the trip and fell in love with all-terrain tires again.
On my recommendation, two family members ended up putting KO2s on their trucks. But I didn’t have any potential KO2 applications sitting in my garage – an Audi S6 and a Toyota Sienna AWD. The family members loved the tires, and I had nothing but memories of driving on them in Baja.
Then I got an Audi Q5 last fall. It had a set of 235/55-19 Goodyear Assurance all-seasons, and they did fine through the winter (and summer, and spring, and fall, for that matter). Meanwhile, the dedicated winter tires I was driving on my S6 (255/35-20s) seemed to attract potholes, which led to three bent rims one winter.
Inspiration, Then Research
One night, I had an inspiration. If I could get a set of KO2s for the Q5, my pothole problems would come to an immediate end. Plus, KO2s look pretty sweet. However, this required some research and testing. There were a few problems to overcome:
- BF Goodrich makes zero sizes of KO2s for 19″ rim diameters
- A Google search of KO2 on Audi Q5 leads to no results, except for an AudiWorld thread that I started on June 7, 2018 (username 69Firebird400). But the closest I could find was another AudiWorld user showing a couple of photos of his first-generation Q7 wearing KO2s.
I couldn’t really fix the second one (no information on Google about someone else doing this), but could create my own content if it actually worked.
The Q5’s standard wheels are 18″, with 19″ available. This meant that OEM 18″ wheels would fit around the suspension parts and brake calipers/rotors. I just had to find a cheap set. But first, I had to research whether any size of 18″ KO2s would have an outer diameter similar enough to the stock tires, and likewise whether those same KO2s would have a reasonable width to prevent any clearance issues.
Tire Rack Has the Answers
To begin my research, I leveraged the outstanding resources provided by Tire Rack’s website. First, the OEM Goodyear Eagle LS-2s in 235/55-19 each weigh 29 pounds, can accommodate rims between 6.5″ and 8.5″ wide, have an overall diameter of 29.2″, and turn 716 revolutions per mile.
Skimming through the KO2 specs on Tire Rack’s site, the 255/55-18s each weigh 44 lbs., can accommodate rims between 7″ and 9″ wide, have an overall diameter of 29″, and turn 717 revolutions per mile.
The wheels are 18×8, so the KO2s fell within the acceptable window. The small diameter difference of 0.1% would not affect my speedometer, and more importantly, the height of the wheels would still easily clear my Q5’s fenders.
The last question to answer before buying wheels and tires for this crazy experiment was width, since I was going from a 235 section width to a 255. I took a gamble that the wider tires would fit because the same-vintage SQ5 has either 255/45-20s or 255/40-21s, meaning that wider tires should work.
Forum Deals are Great
So, I put the calculator away and started looking for wheels. I found a set of perfect OEM Audi Q5 wheels in the 18×8 size about 2.5 hours from my office. He asked $400, which already was a pretty fair price, and negotiations were done over text. I countered with $300 (him $375). I countered with $350 (he held at $375). It was a deal so I accepted. He even provided boxes for them – which happened to be the boxes that the 19″ OEM wheels he wanted to put onto his Q5 came in.
The tire part was easy. I have only bought tires from Tire Rack for years, and wasn’t about to change. In the past couple of years, I realized that I can save on shipping (and save time) by picking up my orders same day at the company’s warehouse in New Castle, Delaware. Since Tire Rack offered free shipping on the tires, they gave a $64 price reduction for my local pickup. The total damage for the tires was $787.88. Added to the price I paid for the wheels, I had invested $1,162.88 before mounting and balancing.
Mounting and Testing
With the tires and wheels in hand, the hardest step remaining was to squeeze four wheels and four unmounted tires into a Q5. Somehow, I managed (and three months later, the interior still smells like new tires). I took them to the local tire and lube spot, a little while later, I had mounted and balanced KO2s on Q5 wheels.
Being a man of little patience, I couldn’t wait to try them out. I cleared the garage and pulled out my floor jack (and pinch weld adapter) and mounted the new tires and wheels. They were heavy as hell to lift, but I was successful.
With all four wheels on the car, I took it for a spin, but only for less than a mile round trip. The first thing I noticed was that the tires threw off quite a bit more road noise than I remembered from driving a first-generation Ford F-150 Raptor with the same tires in 2014. The second thing I noticed was that the tires seemed to be a little less lively than the stock tires. That’s to be expected when they’re 51% heavier (though the wheels are probably a bit lighter, being smaller in diameter).
The third thing I noticed was only after it was parked. It looked BAD ASS. It was exactly the look I was going for. I didn’t want a Raptor wannabe (or worse); I wanted a bit tougher look that would never, ever require me to think about a pothole ever again when driving it.
Experiment Is a Success!
After taking a few pictures, I drove home. Before dismounting the new tires/wheels, I turned the steering wheel to full stop in both directions; there was no binding or clearance issue whatsoever. It actually worked!
With the experiment a success, I reinstalled the stock tires and wheels and rolled the KO2s to the shed. I’ll put them on the Q5 either when the stock tires are too worn to be safely driven (I’m at just over 30,000 miles on the Goodyears today) or in November, when temperatures drop and I’d otherwise be putting the winter tires on my S6.
The only problem with the KO2s is that their deep tread and good tread life means they will probably last for 50,000 miles. If I don’t like them or the way the Q5 drives with them, I will have to live with it for years, or will have wasted more than $1,200.
The best part is that my AudiWorld post may, just may, have inspired others to try something similar. Have fun out there!
How have the KO2’s been in winter driving conditions? And rain?
Hi Mark, they are actually pretty mediocre in the rain. Compared to the factory Goodyear all seasons, cornering grip is just not there. As far as snow, we didn’t get as much snow as I was hoping in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area last winter, nor this year so far. I think the tires are highly rated for snow, perhaps not as much for wet roads. They are also not really grippy on dry pavement.
I use them from roughly October to February, then I get tired of the poor handling, road noise, and fuel economy and go back to the all seasons.
How has the gas mileage been with such heavy tires?
I am thinking about using some knobbier things… maybe looking at a tire that has more middle ground.
I noticed about a 1-1.5mpg lower overall fuel economy with the KO2s installed. However, it wasn’t necessarily a controlled experiment, since I only used the KO2s in cooler weather, where I usually see poorer fuel economy anyway. My biggest gripes on the KO2s are wet traction and lateral traction. They are great all-terrain tires (probably the best out there), but not designed for on-road handling.
I should also mention that I have sold my Q5, but kept the tires and wheels. The KO2s have about 15,000 miles on them – still a lot of tread left. I am may try to sell them, or may see if they fit on my e-tron (and if the e-tron looks good or ridiculous with them – that has 21″ wheels from the factory).
We are driving rough mountain dirt tracks every day and the street tires on our Q5 are being eaten alive! The wife asked about installing all terrains but I’m a little leery. Your column sort left me torn. Since you remove them part of the year is it safe to say you’re not on board with running them year round?
Funny, I found this site/thread on the premise that I was thinking of putting A/T tires(Not the crappy but highly overrated Ko2s) on an Audi SQ5(1st gen). I may continue to search the interwebs on other like-minded individuals.
After finding this thread, it motivated me to go out and upgrade to a more aggressive tire. I live in the snow, having to push through belly pan deep roads on a consistent basis throughout the winter. My Q5s AWD has always been great, even beating out my 99 Tacoma in some instances…. but the tires have always been the downfall. After a few punctures on fire roads going climbing, it was time to find something that had more capability for moderate adventure… I went with the Falken Wildpeak A/Ts in the same spec, 255/55/18 and they have been amazing. Road noise is minimal, been fantastic in the snow, and being a slightly stiffer sidewall they still handle amazing. I highly recommend them.
Thanks for the push, and stepping out of the “Q5 is a street performance SUV” mold!
Hi Beau – thanks for the comment. Glad I was able to help inspire you to try tougher tires. I actually traded in my Q5 almost a year ago, and still have the tires and wheels – I’m going to start looking for a new home for them shortly, as they don’t fit my new SUV, an e-Tron.
Hi Chris ! I live in New Jersey and drive an 18 Audi Q5 and I would
Love to purchase those tires and wheels from you !!! My email is ******
Thanks man ! I’m so stoked I came across this form this is exactly what I’m looking to do and no one will help me do it haha .
Hi Chris , my name is Chris also I have a 2018 Audi Q5 and I just recently put good year trail runner at but just went with the original size of 235 60r18… but if you ever sell those tires and wheels I would totally buy them because that’s exactly what I want to do for my Audi I didn’t commit to a bigger tire because I wasn’t sure but after reading this and knowing you made it work I’m stoked to try it . I also live in New Jersey. He sandy hook so I could come pick them up .
Hi Chris – I emailed you. I am willing to sell the tires and wheels. Hit me up if you’re still interested!
I put ko2s on my rav4, then my mdx, next comes the q5. I run a courier business so we put a lot of miles on then. Wear and tear, all 4 seasons, including an east coast Canadian winter. Would recommend them to anyone.