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  • 16 inch Wheels or not?

    I'm sure some of you know my situation with either having to buy new rims or go with wheel spacers on my TJ. I'm looking to get 33x12.5x15 MT/R's with my lifted TJ. Would there be any reason to go with 16" rims over 15" seeing how GY makes a 33" tire (285/75/r16) with a listed width of 11.2 inches. This seems like it would help me out on the backspacing issue as it won't be the 12.5 inches the 33x12.5x15 is. Also, if I should stay with the 15", should I go to a 15x10 wheel? So many ins and outs here it seems confusing at times. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Gary B.

  • #2
    With stock rims or rims with stock back spacing you will have problems with tires wider than 10.5"


    • #3
      As a general rule. tires for 16"+ rims are more expensive then tires for 15" rims. now with that covered...

      Some people go to bigger rims for a few reasons. If your converting axles and going to disc brakes sometimes you need the extra clearance from the big rim to get over the caliper. another reason is that once you go bigger (I'd say over 35") theres a concern about sideall flex and a taller rim creates a shorter sidewall on the larger tires. Other then that, your on your own.

      I do recall seing an article in JP magazine about rims not to far back


      • #4
        With 16" wheels, you will have less options as to tread pattern and manufacturer.

        When planning on new wheels, many problems arise when backspacing/off-set are not considered. Most wheel makers try to keep the backspacing (distance from the wheel lip to the axle mounting surface in inches) as close to factory as possible. This is so their wheels won't rub the vehicle. A 15x10 wheel will stick out further from the vehicle than a 15x8 when both have the same backspacing.

        Off-set is the distance, (in + or - millimeters), the mounting surface is, in relation to the vertical centerline of the wheel. Most vehicle and axle makers want you to stay as close as possible to factory off-set so that the weight of the vehicle is supported properly by the axle. To keep the off-set closer to factory, a 15x10 wheel will need more backspacing than a 15x8, moving the wheel closer to the vehicle.

        There are some trade-offs when considering your new wheels. Unless you're getting a custom made wheel, you'll be left at the mercy of the wheel makers backspacing.


        • #5
          Thanks for the very informative reply . I now understand what backspacing really is. I think I'll just stick with a 15x8 wheel for now. Do you have any idea what backspacing I should look for with my setup?

          Gary B.


          • #6
            The factory wheels for a TJ/YJ should be 15x8 with 3½" backspacing. I've found that they will measure closer to 3.75". Anyway, I'll use my YJ as an example.

            I run an AR Outlaw II, 15x8 with 3.75" of backspacing. This puts the off-set at -19 mm. The tires are 30x9.5/15. The factory tire size was 225x75/15 (28x8.86x15). A difference in width of about 5/8". Remember, the tire width is measured through the widest part of the tire, which is the sidewall (225mm = 8.86" vs. 9.50"). If I change to a 12.50" wide tire on the same wheel (and same backspacing), the difference in width will be divided on either side of the wheel. Going from a 9.50" to 12.50", +3" divided by 2 will push the sidewall 1.5" further away from the vehicle AND 1.5" closer to the vehicle.

            1.5" ain't that much, unless the tire is outside the fender flair and the law says it has to be covered. Time to get wider flairs? Maybe not. To bring the tires back in, we can use a 5.5" backspaced wheel. It just so happens that 5.5" is standard on XJs and many wheel makers have it as standard. The bolt pattern is the same too. This will bring the tires back toward the vehicle 1.75"

            The drawback to this plan is that the wheel off-set is now -63 mm. On my YJ, I'll have to adjust the steering stops or the tires will rub the leaf springs. I'm not sure if you'll have any rubbing issues as a TJ has no leaf springs. Also, the load bearing point of the wheel is closer to the outside edge of the wheel because we moved it inward 1.75"

            Everyone confused now


            • #7
              Factory jeep wheeels have 5" of backspacing....if you wish to run a wider tire than 10.5" you will have to go to a rim that has less 4" or 3.75".....this is a negative number for a jeep and the lower the number the more the rim sticks out away from the frame of the jeep....


              • #8
                Tug, You are probably correct that the backspacing on current Jeeps are 5.5". The YJs are 3.75". The newer XJs are 5.5", we mounted my rims/tires on my sons 2000 XJ to see what they would look like. The 30s stuck out past the flairs about 1" or so.

                I got the TJ backspacing info from They say they got their info from "Dirt Road Magazine".