Mod Thoughts: Tires (But Probably No Wheels)

  Being as I'm a car guy, and being as this is a Jeep, there's no doubt I'm going to make some modifications to the vehicle. I will hold off on many of these until I get some miles under her and see what I like and what I want to change, but there are a few changes on my list that will need to take place relatively quickly. One of the first will probably be larger diameter tires.

As mentioned in previous posts, I intend to take the Gladiator off-road. Heck, it's one of the primary reasons we settled on Jeeps as our primary vehicles-- we need a reliable means of getting up to the family cabin on a regular basis. And as I also mentioned, the road to the cabin requires a very capable off-road vehicle, complete with high-ground clearance and excellent traction.

Stock, the Rubicon Gladiator comes with 33-inch LT285/70R17C All-Terrain (AT) tires mounted on 17-inch x 7.5-inch Granite Crystal Aluminum (standard) wheels.

These might be sufficient for getting to the cabin, but if past history making the trip in various Toyotas and Fords with 33-inch tires... well, I'll be surprised if we don't bottom out in a few deep rutted sections of the trail. Ergo, we probably will upgrade the tire size just for ground clearance reasons alone.

I like the look of the stock 17-inch wheels, and they are relatively strong, so I'd prefer not to upgrade them if possible.... but they are only 7.5 inches wide. What this means is if I go to, say, a 35-inch diameter tire, it may limit me to rubber that is 11.5-inches wide. Anything wider than this is not recommended due to "crowning" and sidewall "bulging." I.e., I'd like to avoid spending money on wheels if I can, but I worry this will limit my tire choices.

Now, some good news is that with the Rubicon, it's possible to fit 35 x 11.5 wheels without lifting the vehicle. I'm a little torn about this, as I like the added body clearance a lift provides, but again it's more money to be spent.

First up, however, (after the Jeep arrives at the dealer, of course), is to try driving up to the cabin in the stock configuration of the truck and see just how she does. Depending upon the results, we may or may not have to upgrade tire and/or wheels. Stay tuned...


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