Useful Insights About Jeep Wrangler Wheels
Jeep gives you the option to choose between steel and aluminum wheels when it comes to Wrangler.
Aluminum wheels are a bit more expensive than the steel wheels, they’re lighter in weight, which is a significant advantage. There are several differences between these wheel types and every Jeep enthusiast has their own preferences.
Here are some useful insights about Jeep Wrangler wheels to help you can make an educated choice for yourself.
What is the Wheel Structure?
Your Wrangler’s stock wheel is in the form of a single-piece design. However, there are multi-piece designs available as well, including the ones with bead locks. The basic structure of the wheel comprises of mounting face/plate, central barrel, and inner and outer lip.
What is the Wheel Offset?
This is basically the distance of the inner components of the Jeep in relation to the mounted wheel. Basically, offset deals with how far the wheel is actually from the sway bar links, shocks, and inner fenders among other components.
You will need to use offset measurements depending on where you want the wheel to sit in relation to the wheel fender.
The mounting face will be pushed out in a positive offset, while a negative offset will do just the opposite. Positive offset tucks the wheel majorly inside the fender, while the negative offset will create more of a deep dish.
Quick measurement reference – offset is measured in millimeters, not to be confused with backspacing.
What is Wrangler’s Wheel Backspacing?
Backspacing is the measurement of the wheel mounting to the inner lip or the back edge of the wheel. This measurement influences whether or not the back of the wheel in your Wrangler will make contact with any of the inner components, like sway bar links, shocks, and inner fenders.
Backspacing is different from offset where you can play with the distance by using spacers and adapters. Backspacing figures are set to the measurement of the actual wheel. This is measured in inches and not millimeters like offset.
How to Make Offset and Backspacing Work for Your Jeep?
Your wheels are going to come with default numbers out of the box where offset and backspacing is concerned. Also, you can enhance or decrease the distance to keep the wheels exactly where you want them in your Wrangler.
If you face a problem where the backspacing is too great and allows the wheel to come in contact with inner components, then you can increase the offset by using spacers.
This helps push the mount further, giving the wheel more of a positive direction, in turn creating more space between the inner components of the Jeep and the inner lip of the wheel. In this case, you get to keep the same backspacing by altering the offset to gain the clearance space required.
Now, if you feel your Wrangler’s wheel is sticking out a bit too much, you can reduce the offset to shave of some of the mounting part. The backspacing doesn’t change here.
It is important to note that reducing mounting face can result in an uneven surface which would be felt while driving. You should try to begin with a proper offset to avoid having the need to shave off offset.
Jeep Wrangler Aluminum Wheels
Most automotive manufacturers put in aluminum wheels. It was first used by Ettore Bugatti in 1924 on Type 35. There are several different types of construction for the aluminum wheels. But where Wranglers are concerned, cast and forged are the two most common methods.
Try to choose forged wheels since they are denser, lighter, and stronger than the cast ones (probably not as strong as Sentinel Prime’s shields in Transformers III though!). They tend to hold up better while off-roading being lighter than steel while having more material. They also offer better handling and fuel economy.
- Better heat dissipation
- Less likely to oxidize
- Enhanced on-road performance
- Higher risk of cracks than steel
- Certain type of cleaners can hurt it
- Difficult to repair
Jeep Wrangler Steel Wheels
Steel wheels or steelies are the inexpensive and strong bulls to move your Wrangler. They’re very popular for holding winter tires due to their low maintenance and price. While it’s not likely to crack, steel wheels can bend.
The good part – steel wheels can be hammered back into shape while off-roading to a point where it holds air. There are not many styles where steelies are concerned. You could always install hubcaps to make them look good though hubcaps don’t always look that great.
- Low maintenance
- Lower center of gravity
- Can be easily repainted
- Bad fuel economy
- Increases stopping distance
- Bad at dissipating heat
- Bad handling
How Do the Steels Measure Up in Terms of Durability?
Where durability is concerned steel and aluminum wheels offer varying levels of comparison. Steel wheels are denser and more resistant to damage as compared to aluminum wheels. However, aluminum wheels are powder coated and hold up really well in most weather conditions.
They also offer a better level of on-road performance as compared to steel wheels, which are more suitable for off-roading trails. The chances of damage in aluminum wheels is greater than steelies.
However, steel wheels are heavier and difficult to balance which makes them a slight issue for people who drive every day. They may be harder and stronger, but the painted surface is not scratch-proof and when exposed to the environment, it can rust and eventually lead to structural failure.
What are the Various Jeep Wrangler Tire Dimensions?
The most common upgraded tire sizes are 33”, 35”, and 37” for Jeep owners. Tire dimensions can be difficult to decipher since manufacturers use a combination of standard and metric measurements. This is what tire dimensions look like – Goodyear Duratrac sized at 315/70/17.
- In this, the first number ‘315’ represents the width of the tires in millimeters, which means Duratrac is 12.4 inches wide after conversion.
- The second number ‘70’ represents the sidewall’s height as a percentage of the width. So, if Duratrac’s width is 12.4 inches, then 70% of that is 8.6 inches, which is the sidewall height.
- The last number is ‘17’ which is already in inches to make the situation more confusing and represents the rim diameter.
Now, to get the final size of the wheel, you need to multiply the sidewall height (in inches) by 2 and add the rim diameter. So, in the case of the Duratrac this comes out to be:
8.6” x 2 17” = 34.2”
The final size is then just referred to as a 35” wheel.
How to Pick the Right Wheel Size for Your Wrangler?
Whether you rely on need or aesthetics to make the wheel choice, it’s important that you weigh in all the pros and cons before making the final decision. There are several components in a Jeep that can be affected by increasing the wheel size.
One of the basic problems is contact between the wheel and the Jeep’s fenders and other body components. You’ll encounter rubbing issues as you go bigger if you fail to lift and correct the suspension.
33” Wheel Size
This is the first step up in the world of upgraded wheels and is just slightly bigger than stock.
This size is best suited for green-blue trail levels and minimum elevation changes. You can use it for light off-road on snow/gravel terrain and dirt roads.
You may have to install a small 1”-2.5” leveling kit to avoid potential contact during articulation.
It’s great for everyday use since it doesn’t require any major Jeep modifications. This option will give you the best results if your goal is purely to enhance looks.
The 33” offers little (if any) clearance improvement over stock if you are looking for some off-roading action. You’ll also require “budget boost” or a “leveling kit” to give enough clearance between the Jeep and the wheel. Gas mileage gets slightly reduced.
35” Wheel Size
This is a popular and common wheel upgrade for Wrangler owners.
It is best for blue-black level trails. You can use it for moderate off-roading. More elevation changes will require significant articulation.
You will need to install at least a 2.5” lift kit which includes steering stabilizer, front track bar, bump stops, control arms, and brake line extensions.
There are more tire options to choose from and is great for day-to-day activities. It also has more ground clearance.
You will need a “budget boost” or a “leveling kit” just to mount onto the Jeep. Handling is affected on the 2-door Wranglers and gas mileage is also reduced.
37” Wheel Size
These are larger wheel sizes and more common for four-door Jeeps.
It is ideal for black level trails. With significant elevation changes, you can use it for heavy off-roading.
Larger wheels usually require 4” lift kits. You’ll also need to program the Jeep’s ECU and adjust the speedometer for the larger tire rotation.
It provides increased ground clearance which is a great advantage when on the trails.
You may need a large and expensive lift with more components depending on the actual wheel size. Your gas mileage will be noticeably lowered as will the handling.
The Bottom Line
You need to be careful while upgrading your wheels because there are several Jeep components that depend upon the size of the wheels.
Questions or concerns regarding your Jeep? Schedule your routine maintenance with us or let us address any concerns you may have. We’re here to help.
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