So, you’ve got 35-inch tires and want to upgrade your Jeep with the bigger tires.
A question you might have is,
“Do I need a lift for the 35-inch tires, or can I put them stock?”
The answer would be that without the lift, you are compromising off-road performance which is one of the prime reasons people purchase a bigger tire.
Now the next question that might arise is that
“How much lift do I need for a 35-inch tire?”.
Well generally, a 3.5 – 6 in lift kit is recommended for 35-inch tires depending upon the model of the jeep, the backspacing, and offset values of the wheel. If on a budget, you can get away with smaller lifts such as a 2-inch lift kit and trimming off the fenders, but if you want the best possible off-road performance, we recommend at least a 3.5-inch lift.
Why should you lift your tires?
You cannot just throw on the bigger tires without any lift. Without the lift, you can run into all sorts of clearance issues.
You can still run 35 inches stock for on-road purposes without any major damage, but if you decide to go off-road you will cram the tires into the fenders causing damage to the body of the car.
You need the extra clearance between the top of the tire and the bottom of the fenders if you want to go off-road. Even on-road, the stock 35-inch tires might still rub on the under edge of the bumper which won’t cause any damage, but the noise can be an annoyance for you.
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Things to keep in mind before using a 35-inch tire
As mentioned before, you can’t really put on the 35-inch tires on a stock suspension if you want the best possible performance. There are a few things to keep in mind as you bump up the size of the tire.
If you go with a 2-inch lift instead of the recommended 3.5-inch lift, you may need to make room for the new tires to avoid the possibility of it making forceful contacts with the body by trimming the fenders to gain that extra clearance. Alternatively, you can buy flat fenders for the same purpose.
The vehicle will feel a lot more sluggish as you install the 35-inch tires as the increased weight of the bigger tires puts more stress on the engine, requires more power out of it, and will compromise the overall performance and fuel economy of the vehicle if you do not regear appropriately.
A simple formula for the new gear ratio for the bigger set of tires would be to take your old gear ratio, multiply it with the new tire size and then divide it by the size of your old tires. That will give you an appropriate gear ratio that you will require for the bigger set of tires.
New Gear Ratio = (Old Gear Ratio x New Tire Size) / Old Tire Size
As you upgrade the tires to a bigger size, the embedded system installed in your vehicle that gives you the information about the speed of the vehicle on the speedometer can become faulty.
You will need to install a calibrator when you opt for the bigger tires to get accurate information about the speed of the vehicle and the overall shift points of the jeep.
Carrying the Spare
The 35-inch tire is heavier and obviously bigger in size compared to the regular stock/donut tires.
Chances are that the 35-inch spare won’t fit onto the factory mount for the tailgate, and even if it fits, the extra weight of the tire will put a lot of strain onto the tailgate deforming it over time.
In that case, you will require a tire carrier to carry the spare. Tire carriers mounted on the tailgate put most of the weight of the tire on their own hinge joints and protect the tailgate from getting deformed.
Braking Distance and Acceleration Time
The more rolling mass i.e., the bigger the tire, the more force you would need to apply to slow it down.
The theory checks out when you compare a 31-inch tire with a 35-inch tire in terms of braking distance.
The smaller tires offer considerably less braking distance (about 7-10 meters less) as they come to a halt as opposed to the bigger 35-inch tires. Likewise, the acceleration time (the time it takes for the jeep to go from 0 up to highway speeds) also increases with a bigger set of tires.
You will have much less power and less control with a bigger tire on-road as opposed to a smaller one.
The footprint of a bigger tire is a little bit wider and a lot longer than a smaller one i.e., bigger tires have a bigger contact patch with a road which in layman terms means more rubber on the road.
This makes it comparatively difficult to rotate the tire resulting in hard turning and slow steering.
Fitting a bigger tire with all of the modifications required for the vehicle i.e., the suspension lift, cutting the fenders, changing the differential gear ratio comes with a big cost on top of the money required for actually buying a bigger set of tires.
So, you really need to decide whether the off-road performance is actually worth it for the cost of the bigger tires.
Why should you use a 35-inch tire?
Better traction and footprint
The chief reason for getting a bigger tire is to get further off-road and gain better traction. A tire with an aggressive tread pattern as well as a bigger size gets you a larger footprint.
A larger footprint means a bigger contact patch with the road which is responsible for the vehicle’s stability and getting you through the off-road steep rock steps, big muds, and deep ruts.
Extra Ground Clearance
Another reason for getting a bigger tire is to improve the clearance underneath the vehicle.
A larger tire will get you that extra bit of height from the ground to your differentials that can get you out of tough spots where the smaller tires just don’t cut it for you.
Generally, a 2-inch increase in tire size increases the ground clearance by about 1-inch.
Now that wouldn’t sound much at face value, but it can be the difference-maker in you getting stuck in the mud or not.
Bigger is always better when it comes to tire size and off-road performance.
But without prepping a vehicle for the bigger sized tire, you are losing out on performance, durability, and fuel economy.
A suspension lift is a key component when it comes to prepping the vehicle for the bigger tire as it gets rid of clearance issues that can lead to body damage.
Of course, bigger suspension lift kits are not exactly cheap but often you can get away with smaller lifts with trimmed fenders without breaking the bank.