Everyone has a price, and new JK owners are no exception. When we get a new-to-us Jeep, we always want to know how to fit bigger tires under it to make it better off-road. When the JK came out and the Rubicon package offered 32-inch tall tires, we were sure that we'd be able to squeeze 35s under there with no lift. As it turns out, we were right-with some caveats.
The bigger wheelwells of the JK lend themselves to 35-inch tires rather readily, but if you just bolt a set of 35s to your Jeep, you'll be tearing up flares and possibly bending sheetmetal. How much you want to spend to fit the tires and keep them under control is up to you, but we figured we'd make it easier on you with this shopping list, based on what your budget is.
Trim your flares
Spend some time with a utility knife and cut your Wrangler's goofy dumbo ears off. By trimming about 3 inches off the plastic flare as shown, a two-door will have no problems clearing 35-inch tires. A four-door will be able to clear the 35s, but might end up with some rubbing at full flex.
Sure, you'll lose some uptravel, but a stock-height two-door can accept 35-inch tires with no lift and no trimming. However, the tires will eat the un-trimmed flares. Toss a set of longer bumpstops or bumpstop extensions in it like this kit from Off Road Evolution and you will be able to keep your tires out of your fenders. The company states that if you are running a four-door, you will need to trim the flares or lift it.
A spacer lift is suggested as a low-buck way to clear 35s by many lift-kit manufacturers. The Daystar exact-fit polyurethane coil spring spacers can actually lower interior noise levels by providing additional insulation between the spring and the frame. The kit comes with 13/4-inch spacers for front and rear and includes rear sway bar spacers to avoid exhaust interference.
The Performance Accessories 4-inch lift is a combo of body and suspension lift. It includes reinforced nylon body blocks, front spring spacers to level your Jeep, a CNC- machined steering extension, and urethane Gap Guards to cover the gap between the body and frame. You will easily be able to fit 35-inch tires with this simple-to-install kit. It's so far under $300, you can even have it shipped to your door and still not break three bills.
The SST mild lift kit from Readylift will lift the front of the JK 3 inches and the rear 2 inches. Tough powdercoated steel coil spring spacers work in conjunction with a rear track bar bracket. The kit also includes front and rear shock extensions to retain your factory ride and handling. Front and rear bumpstop extensions and all needed hardware are also included.
The flat-style fender flares from Bushwacker are the best-looking fender flares for the JK we've seen. They look better than the stock parts, include 50-state-legal LED side marker lights,and are made from 100 percent UV-protected TPO material. They are flexible so that a tree or rock hit won't mangle your sheetmetal, and they provide enough clearance for 35s.
For $600 you also have the option of putting a Rubicon Express standard lift kit under your Jeep. The kit includes new springs, an adjustable front track bar, front and rear cam bolts for caster and pinion angle adjustment, brake line relocation brackets, a rear track bar bracket, and extended rear sway bar end links. The 31/2-inch-lift kit can easily be upgraded to the company's Super-Flex system down the road.
You'll have to snag them on sale, but the tube fenders from River Raider can clear 35s and are available in either bare steel or GatorHyde finish. It resembles a textured powdercoat, but is far more durable. The fenders are made from 11/2-inch DOM tube and heavy-gauge steel plate. All the hardware and spacers needed for installation are included.
If you are planning to put some cash down for a long-arm system down the road and just want to clear 35s in the meantime, look at Off Road Evolution's RockStop AirBump systems. They are fully adjustable, heavy-duty, and you can use them to keep the 35s out of your fenders now. They will be an awesome match for later when you've gone full-gonzo with the lift kit, regardless of what size tire and lift you end up running.
These direct-replacement fender flares from Gen-Right Off Road will take all the abuse you want to throw at them, and they are stout enough that you can use them as bumpstops. Not that we'd advocate such a thing, but we've been known to do just that until the money came around to extend our bumpstops. They are available in either 3/16-inch-thick aluminum or 1/8-inch-thick steel. The aluminum flares pictured are under $1,500, while the set in steel will run under $1,000.