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Jeep Wrangler Tires and Wheels



  • I just bought a used 2003 Wrangler X....I'm a newbie to these multi-faceted man mobiles....for now. In anycase, my current tire size is the stock 215 75R15, and I'm thinking of upgrading to 31x10.5x15 without lift. Does anyone know what else needs to be done to ensure a smooth ride? I've heard the gear ratio will change and there is something we can do about that (a sensor in the transmission needs to be changed), but no one seems to know exactly what - - not even the JEEP Dealer!! Please elaborate if you know.....Thanks.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    31's won't be that big of a deal. 30's were available options from the dealer. Your gear ratio will not change, but your performance may be slightly impacted.

    There is a speedometer gear you can change out. It is based on your tire size and your differential gearing. Likely you have 3.73 gearing in your differential. There are several speedometer gear charts/applications on the web that will tell you what you need. Generally, with a 1" change, it won't be a big deal as far as accuracy.

    I'm not sure what the stock tooth count is for a 3.73-geared TJ. Your invoice/build sheet will tell your stock gearing (assuming it hasn't been changed).

    As a comparison, I have an SE geared at 4.10 stock. I was on 30's and the speedo was off (geared for 28" tires). I regeared to 4.88 and added 33's. My speedo gear is actually more accurate than it was with the 30's. :)

  • Thanks Paul,
    When you say "regeared", do you mean just changing out the speedometer gear? Or is there some way to re-calibrate the speedometer to meet the demand of the bigger tires?

    By the way, where can I purchase a speedometer gear?
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Regearing can take place in the differentials. THAT regearing will affect the perceived power. 3.73 gearing and bigger tires will make your Jeep feel slow and underpowered.

    Another regear can take place in the speedometer gearing attached to the transfer case. THAT regearing will not affect power. All that does is make your speedometer reflect correct speed. It works in conjunction with your differential gearing and tire size to ensure proper speed and odometer readings.

    Usually you can get speedometer gears from the dealer from $15 to 30, depending on the number of teeth you need for your tire/gear setup. Given that you only have 31's on there right now, the effects of the larger tire size on power and speedometer accuracy would be minimal. If you have a handheld GPS, drive with it and see how your speed is on the GPS vs the speedo. Save the $$ if you can. :)

    Just a note, Rubicons use a different speedometer sensor and it is NOT a gear. It is electronically set and a bit more complicated to do.

    Here is a writeup for changing the speedometer gear yourself. It is VERY easy.

  • we just bought our first jeep a 2008 wrangler and the stamped steel wheels have to go so my question is if i change wheels will i have a low pressure light staying on? thats not really acceptable how have other owners dealt with the problem. the people at the dealership dont really seem too helpful. they really dont seem to want us changing anything.
  • Will 33" tires fit on a stock '06 Wrangler?
  • So i take it no one has chenged the wheels on a Wrangler with the tire pressure monitoring yet!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Probably need to drill holes in the wheels to fit a TPMS or they just get moved from one wheel to another.

  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    I recently bought an '06 Wrangler Sport which is all stock. On the 2nd day I had it I experienced the DW. After the thrid day of owning it I took it to the dealer. Well this guy obviously thought since I'm a gal, I don't know anything mechanical. He was amazed that being a gal and 58 yrs old I'm actually driving a standard shift. I happily informed him that I drove semi for 10 yrs and have been behind the big wheel for a total of 23. That shut him up.

    Anyhow, they changed the damper at no charge do to the warranty but charged me $87 for rotate and balance.

    My boss called a local used Jeep dealer who explained the problem. Chrysler changed out the steering system and I need to install the Rugged Ridge Steering on it. He sounded very convincing. The only problem is that parts and labor will be $330.

    I've been writing to various consumer organizations in hopes that I can start the ball rolling for a class action suit. Chrystler is denying the fact that they are producing many faulty Jeeps that can one day result in a death. I want to do something before that day comes.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Stock Jeeps having DW is indeed rare, but has happened. Was this 06 brand new? Just curious.

    I have a 97 TJ and I've never had DW, though I've had some tire/wheel setups that were out of balance or round. That combo got relegated to the spare carrier. :) Other than that, even lifted 3" with 33's, I'm doing okay with NO death wobble.

    I have aftermarket swaybar disconnects, aftermarket trackbar (both JKS), and I have a Grand Cherokee (ZJ) tie rod with new ends. Even with all that change, everything is still running great. And I have the stock steering stabilizer on (which is more of a bandaid/mask than anything).

    The steering setup for a Jeep has always been a questionable design and a LOT will depend on the draglink and trackbar being parallel. If they are parallel, more than likely it is an issue with one of the joints in the setup (tie rods, track bar ends, drag link connection, or even possibly bad ball joints on the steering knuckles (which I would NOT suspect on a 2006).

  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    No, I bought it used with 24,600 miles on it. I've read where others have had the same problem and the owner of X-Treme Jeeps of Tampa (FL) is a friend of my boss. He explained that I have to go back to the 'rigid' steering that Jeeps had before the changing of design.

    It hasn't done the DW since Chrysler changed out the damper but as you said, that is merely a temporary 'fix'. After the last time is did the wobble I have become a bit frightened of it. I have yet to read where someone has had an accident during the DW and I sure don't want to be the first.

    My friend also has a '97 with a 3" body lift kit and larger tires. He reports that he never had the problem and he even takes his off road quite a bit.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Mine goes offroad a bit too, though not as much lately. :)

    Instead of going with a factory setup, you MAY want to consider some aftermarket steering setups. Currie makes an EXCELLENT one and may be worth doing. I'm a firm believer that the auto companies have great designs, but the aftermarket improves on them even more.

    3" body lift? UGH. A body lift will not really alter the steering geometry a bit other than the steering shaft to the steering box. I'd suggest a 2" budget boost and 1" body lift. It'll look a lot better (smaller gaps between frame and tub) and IMO be safer than the 3" body lift.

  • jim225jim225 Posts: 11
    I also experienced the death wobble a few times over the last year in my stock 2003 Sport that I bought new. It has never been off-road, hardly ever been dirty, and only has 13,600 miles on it. I had a Ford Festiva that I drove harder than my Jeep! Anyway, I was convinced that the problem was tires because the car alway started to shimmy at 50 to 60 mph. I did replace the steering damper and this seemed to help but not for long and the wobble was still there. This week I went in to buy new tires but asked for a check of the track bar first since I understand it can cause the problem. The track bar did have a very, very small amount of play in it and I had it replaced still convinced the problem was tires. I've driven the car for a couple of days now, hit all of my favorite bumps that set it off in the past and not only does the wobble seem to be gone but the "tire" shimmy as well. I'm not sure why the track bar would fail on a car that was hardly driven but hopefully I've got my practically "new" Jeep back.
  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    You mentioned "aftermarket steering setups" and I was wondering if you mean what my bosses friend at X-Treme Jeeps of Tampa, FL told me ......... go back to the 'rigid' steering. Forgive my ignorance here.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    When you said "rigid"I thought that was a brand. I know of no steering upgrades for the Jeep from the factory other than using components from other Jeep lines. I have a 98 Grand Cherokee tie rod (thicker and more solid), but that is it as far as OEM parts go that I've replaced.

    There are vendors out there like Currie.

    It is an upgraded tie rod and drag ling setup.

    There is also an option called HiSteer by a company called ORO. But this is mainly for offroaders to move the tie rod assembly up higher to avoid rocks and such.

    The Currie setup is supposed to be pretty good.

    That said, IF the problem lies with the trackbar setup and being loose at the axle end, the Currie setup won't fix this.

    Here is a picture of the steering components identified clearly. THOSE are the components you want to look at to resolve the death wobble. SOMETHING is loose somewhere, you have bad tires, or some bushings are worn out. While you shouldn't expect it on a newer TJ, it can happen.


    You can see that the trackbar and drag link are pretty much parallel in the pic above. THAT is key for death wobble prevention. If they aren't fairly parallel, you will have problems. (BTW, those sway bar links are aftermarket. Stock will not look like that).

    Hope that helps some. I've diagnosed a few loose spots on people's Jeeps and solved the cases I've come across, but it is a LOT harder over the net.

  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    Okay then, let me ask you this ..........

    1- I don't see the damper on your picture, therefore I assume your steering is set up different than mine. Correct?

    2- If I do the checking for loose nuts, tec how will I know that I'm not tightening something that may be an adjustment?

    You see, I really don't have the money to take this in for others to work on it. I suppose I will need to eventually though because it's beyond me.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    The steering stabilizer (dampener) just isn't pictured or it is behind the drag link. That is not my Jeep. That is from's website - a GREAT site for basic DIY maintenance and upgrades.

    My steering setup is stock with the exception of aftermarket swaybar disconnects (like those shown in the pic), aftermarket track bar (made by JKS), and a tie rod for a Grand Cherokee (since it is thicker and stronger). Geometries are 100% the same though.

    For checking the loose nuts, have somebody sit behind the wheel. Start the Jeep. Have them slowly steer back and forth at your command.

    1. Check the joints for the trackbar (frame and lower passenger axle). If there is any movement, they need to be tightened down.
    2. Check the tierod ends. If the do anything OTHER than rotate the bar a tiny bit (ie there appears to be play), tighten em down.
    3. Check the drag link ends. If it is loose at the steering box, tighten as best you can.
    4. If you can jack up your front a bit so wheels are off the ground, do that. Then grab the top and bottom of the tire and see if you can 'rock' the wheel back and forth. It may have a tiny bit of play, and that is normal. If it seems excessive, your ball joints may be toast.
    5. While it is jacked up, grab one end of the axle and see if you can 'rock' it forward and back. If you can move it excessively, your control arm bushings may be worn and may need replacement.

    Most likely, you'll find one of those to be the case.

    As for tightening down, a torque wrench is a GREAT investment and you can find them at harbor freight fairly inexpensively. You can also pick up a Haynes manual from places like Autozone for about 20.00. I'm not mechanically inclined when I started, but now have no problems working on my Jeep at all.

  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    Thank you for the tips. I do have a torque wrench that I bought from Harbor Freight about 5 years ago. I'll do the checks you listed. Hope you'll be around because I think I'll be needing a crash course in Jeep fixer-uppers.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    I'll be around. I could give you my email if that would help. I posted it in the regular Jeep Wrangler forum in response to a new Jeep for a teen.

  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    Yes, I would really appreciate it if you would give me your email address or direct me as to where I can get it. I have lots of questions about this. I owned only one Jeep before back in the early '70s and that was a CJ-6 with a 350ci, 4bbl carb. I really loved that thing but had to sell it since I was doing more and more highway driving at the time. My son (about 3 1/2 yrs old at the time) and I used to do a lot of off road antics and mudding. That Jeep had nice tight steering and was very stable. Of course it was larger than what they have now-a-days but I'm not complaining about that. LOL

    Anyhow, I want to learn as much as I can about this newer one. I sent off for a repair manual but it only goes up to 2003. I didn't think they had changed much up to '06 so I ordered it.

    Before I go on, I want to explain that I'm merely an old woman (58) who tries to do my own wrenching as much as possible. In my younger years it was more fun than anything else but these days with the prices repair shops charge and the awful rip-offs, I find I am in 'need' to do my own work when I can. I hope this fact (that I'm a woman) doesn't turn you off on helping me out.

    Later on I want to learn how to make my own cold air induction system hoping to gain a little more horsepower and maybe save a tad on gas useage.

    I do want to tell you that I appreciate your offer. Thank you!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Why would your age turn me off of helping? I ain't exactly young. :)

    my email is skimblzbvs at yahoo dot com. That's the email I use for this stuff. If you got the haynes manual, I think that is the right one. I have the factory service manual for your year as well, but those kinds of repairs are probably more than you need to worry about. I can help ya as much as possible. When you contact me, I have a few things you can try.

  • ricleericlee Posts: 8
    Why would your age turn me off of helping? I ain't exactly young.

    I'm hoping the manual will be here by tomorrow. I'll let you know. Thank you for your email address. I'll send you an email so you have mine as well.
  • I've read way to much about the Deat Wobble the past couple of days. This is my first Jeep. It's a 2007 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. I haven't done a single thing (alteration wise) to it since I bought it brand new from the dealer. I've had it since Jan. 07 and the "wobble" has started. Of course, I'm still under warranty and the dealer has ordered me a new damper to "repair" the problem. I'm only 8K miles away from the warranty expiring so I want to make sure everything is taken care of. What do you suggest I do if the damper will only mask the problem for a short while?
  • jim225jim225 Posts: 11
    I had this problem after only 13,000 miles on my 2003. Jeep service said the steering damper was bad and I replaced it. Although this helped, the problem was still there. I went to buy new tires since they always seemed like they were out of balance but asked the tire dealer to check the track bar first. Quite a few people have commented on this site about it being the problem. The dealer found a small amount of movement in the track bar which shouldn't be there, replaced it, and the car drives like a new one. It doesn't shimmy, the car now feels solid, and so far the wobble has not returned. I suggest having this checked which is easy to do for a technician. The dealer did tell me that there is a new steering damper out for the 2003 which was over double the price of the original which makes me suspect it might have caused the track bar wear. Anyway, good luck in finding the problem.

  • Jim, Thanks for the input. I'm taking the Jeep in tomorrow to check out the track bar.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    It isn't just the track bar you should check out. Any joints or steering components should be considered.

    1. Control arm bushings - if they are worn, you may get play in the axle.
    2. Tie rod ends - ensure greased, intact, and no lateral movement (may have some rotation due to the joint type).
    3. Track bar - check BOTH ends (frame and axle)
    4. CV joints - jack tire up and check for motion top to bottom /\ kinda thing.
    5. Draglink/tie rod. make sure that connection is secure as well.

    If the problem has cropped up, you should also ensure your tires are properly balanced and have even wear.

    IF you replace the steering stabilizer/dampener, I'd suggest at least getting a good aftermarket one, like Old Man Emu or something. That stock unit is so so. That will be my next acquisition.

    As an FYI, I'm on 33" tires with NO death wobble at all. Aftermarket track bar (JKS), and a Grand Cherokee tie rod (stronger). I did swap out my control arms back in August to newer, unbent ones. I did notice my trackbar loose at one point, but the only issue I had from it was loose/sloppy steering.

    If you look at this pic, you can see the primary components for the front suspension. Any of those points being loose can create havoc.

  • What is this death wobble your are refering to?

    I have a 98 Jeep and i think I might have it. It wobbles violently every once in a while when going 40-50 mph until I reduce speed to about 20mph. There is no indication when it is going to happen.

    Also, I just bought rims off an '08 Jeep X Unlimited and I want to make sure that the bolt pattern on the new jeeps are 5 x 5. I want to get the right wheel adapters to make them fit on my '98.

  • I just bought 17" rims with Goodyear Wrangler 255/17R tires. will they fit under my 98 Jeep with out a lift? I know I will have to get wheel adapters for the 5X5 bolt pattern but I am afraid it will rub the flares.

    Any help would be appreciated

  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Not certain, but the larger wheels should clear the brake calipers and such. I haven't tried it, so no clue as to whether it will clear. You may have issues with turning but I don't know the backspacing on the new wheels. With wheel spacers, you should be okay. Just do NOT use the shim kind of adapters. SpiderTrax is all I'd really recommend.

    And it sounds like you have Death Wobble too. I'd fix THAT before changing your wheel configuration.

  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    What is this death wobble your are refering to?

    It's an uncontrollable shaking of the whole vehicle which originates from the front end.
    You are unable to stop the vehicle from changing lanes and you'll invariably end up in the median or the ditch (or even the E.R. :surprise: ).

    It's scary, your life flashes before your eyes, and it carries a very real threat of an accident, hence the term 'death wobble'.
    It's not just a bad vibration or shake, and accelerating, braking, or decelerating won't make it go away.
    Thankfully it's also very rare, though it happens enough to be a recognized phenomenon, and most commonly occurs in Wranglers and Dodge Rams.

    If you were to experience it or observe it happen to another vehicle I doubt you'd ever forget it!
  • rselfrself Posts: 9
    i have built a few jeeps for off road and from experence the death wobble is caused by bearing assembles going bad.or bad tires. and it happens at about the same speed each time and sometimes it could be from the frame being bent on the jeep
    but i would spend the 300 dollars and replace the front bearings a front stabilizer shock wont help you it is for off road and to keep the stering from breaking your arm when you put the front tire in a bind or hit something.
  • I have an appointment with Domonick at Xtreme Jeeps in Tampa (FL) next Monday. I checked with the dealership and found out my Jeep was put in service on April 25, 06, so I'm hoping if anything the warranty covers, I can get it now without having to shell out big bucks now or later.
  • rselfrself Posts: 9
    you could run 31-12-50 if you dont have a lift. you will need a 3.3 inch lift to run 33s
  • rselfrself Posts: 9
    your best bet would be bfgoodrich all terrain ko. and the size would go with is a 31-10-50
  • rselfrself Posts: 9
    my jeep has a 3.5 lift and it drives great on and off road i run 33-12-50 and bf goodrich are good tires on and off road and my lift was 2500 dollars but you could find one for 1000 or so. it depends what you want to do with the jeep if your going for looks,trail riding a cheep one will do but if you are going rock crawling you need a good lift.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    You may want to at least qualify that. The 31's are not a problem. The 12.5" width MAY be a problem. If they are stock wheels, backspacing is likely 5.5" and they WILL rub while turning. Adjusting the steering stops a bit will help, but ideally wheel spacers or new wheels with a lower backspacing would be implemented.

  • I have a 2008 4door jeep wrangler jk unlimited. I take her offroading all the time. I have size 265X75Xr16 mudding tires on it now. I am planning on getting a 4" to 6" lift kit on it in the next month or so. My questions is Will i need to buy new rims/wheels for it to put 33" tires on it. I belive that the 16" rims it came with are to skinny, any help? Also I was told that if i put anything bigger than 33"s on it I will loose alot of horsepower and have more breakage. Is this true?
  • Please Help!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    You can wheel with the same tires, but honestly it is going to look really stupid with a 4" to 6" lift and stock tires. :) Think of a roller skate.

    Here's a pic of my TJ with just a 3" lift and 1" BL running stock 30's. Imagine a bigger lift with yours. :)


    The lift really isn't going to help you a whole lot if you are keeping the same size tires. Your low point will still be the axles. Offroad, you'll still get good articulation with a decent 4-6" lift, but again, your tires will still come in to play.

    However, if you want to go to 33's you'd be MUCH better off. My wheel is an 8: wheel, but I now have 33x12.5" Mud Terrains on it. A skinny wheel is not necessarily bad for offroad. It provides a good lip for the wider tire. Here's how mine is now.


    Now keep in mind, if you air down your tires for offroad, you don't want to air down TOO much or you'll lose the bead. Airing down is good for better traction, AND it will help keep branches, sharp rocks, etc from puncturing a piece of rubber at full inflation. You DO lose some height doing this, but the traction gain is well worth it.

    Hope that helps some.

  • Hi, does anyone know where I can purchase a rear transfer case slip joint elimination kit? My conversion has left me with short rear drive shaft, 17" long and a drop from tran case U to rear U of approx. 7-1/2" . I was told one is available. Thanks much, Stish
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Lots of choices:

    Pretty much any reputable online 4x4 shop will have em. Go with a decent maker like Advanced Adapters.

    You will likely also need to get at LEAST adjustable rear upper control arms to rotate the rear pinion up a bit bit to more appropriately line up the angle with the driveshaft. There are lots of writeups online about SYE (slip yoke eliminator) setups.

  • I have a 2008 jeep wrangler x I have not done anything to it. I was wondering what size tires and wheels I can put on it with out haveing to lift it?
  • I have an 06 Sport with, yuck, hubcaps! I wanted to get new rims and tires and wanted a second opinion if they will really fit. I don't go off road but do a lot of highway driving so I'm not going taller.

    wheels 15x8 with 3.68 backspacing

    tires 265/75R15

    Am I OK here?
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    3.68" BS seems kinda high for a tire of that dimension if I'm reading it right. I have 33x12.5" and have 4.25" and would prefer to be at 4". In case you didn't know, the higher the BS number, the more 'tucked in' a wheel will be. So a 5.5" BS wheel will be tucked nicely (stock wheel) whereas a 3.75" BS wheel will stick out a bit more.

    They should fit just fine, but may stick out a bit more than you want them to. It will be noisier as less tire will be muffled by the fender, and I guarantee you will be kicking up more water/dirt/grime on the highway...

    Not advising against it, just advising on what you can possibly expect.

  • I've been so concerned about the tires rubbing I didn't think about how far they would stick out. Guess I'll look around for something with a little more backspacing.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    More backspacing = lower number.

    Less backspacing = higher number. :)

    If you go with something about 3.75-4" you should be good, even if you go up in tire size a bit. 3.68 just seems a bit odd to me.

    Here's 4.25" of backspacing with 33x12.5" tires.


    3.68 would stick out about a half inch more, but keep in mind my tires are 12.5" wide (wheels are only 8" wide).

  • Seems like everywhere I look the backspacing is somewhere between 3.25 and 3.75. I guess I'll just suffer through wet elbows when ever I run through a puddle with my arm out the window. Even though I think I've seen them all, can you recommend a web site for rims? I've been trying to get a 15x7 or 15x8 in a black gloss finish.

    Thanks for the help!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    WAY too many to specifically mention any in particular. You looking for alloy or steel?

  • I've narrowed my choice of rims down to a couple. They're gonna have to stick out a bit but I can always get bigger fender flares if it's a problem. Now I have a bit of confusion on tires. As I understand it, 31's will fit without a lift or modifying the fenders, but it sure seems close to the top of the current plastic fender flare. Will I have any problems with them rubbing going over bumps? Also, with either 30 or 31 inch tires, what issues will I have with the spare? Am I looking at buying 5 tires either way I go?
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    30 or 31's won't be a problem with stock suspension/height. If 31's look closed, you may have older springs and they are sagging a bit.

    30/31's will fit the stock tire carrier w/o issue. 32's and 33's may be a problem width/height wise if you are on stock wheels. An aftermarket tire carrier would likely be your safest bet in protecting your tailgate.

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