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Nuts & Bolts: Which Wheel Width?

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on May 21, 2016
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Photographers: Trenton McGee

Which Wheel Width?
I have a 2000 Jeep TJ with 33x12.50-15 tires. I am going to change wheels but don't know whether to go with an 8- or 10-inch-wide wheel. Will the wheel width make a difference in looks or performance? I think my current wheels are 15x12, and I think they make the tires look a little like balloons.

There really isn’t a performance difference between an 8-inch-wide wheel and a 10-inch-wide one. With 15-inch-diameter wheels we usually run an 8-inch-wide wheel with 33x12.50-15s or 35x12.50-15s. The narrower wheel causes the sidewalls to bow out a little, which helps protect the wheels from scratches and trail damage. Some people think the narrower wheel also helps keep the tires seated on the bead, but in our experience this has more to do with the profile of the safety bead built into the wheel than anything else. That being said, a 10-inch-wide wheel will certainly work. Also keep in mind that steel wheels often have a more aggressive safety bead than aluminum wheels. Steel wheels are less likely to crack or break if the outer lip gets hit on the trail, and they can usually be pounded back into shape if they do get damaged.

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